I have decided to throw a triple, family birthday party on the spur of the moment. The problem; the party will be tomorrow evening. It didn’t start out this way. Originally, we thought we would go out. Then there were issues with fluctuating work schedules and trying to make sure that all three honorees would be able to attend.

So, tomorrow it is and my evening has been a shopping and phoning and cooking blur. But it is coming together nicely. A friend suggested that I share my plan with you, so here it is.

Last minute invitations are handled by phone.

The menu needs to have a few finger foods and the main course should stand up to floating guests. For this party, with random ages from 8 to 88, we are having pigs in blankets, chips and dip, and punch for starters. Smoked beef brisket, barbecue chicken, cole slaw, potatoes au gratin, garlic bread, and various condiments for the main course, and my magic double chocolate German cake with freshly whipped cream and coffee for dessert.

Do everything you can in advance, from setting the tablescape to chilling wine-in this case it will be 7 Deadly Zins as it is perfect with barbecue- and have a few party favors for the children.

Then delegate!

My husband is preparing the meat. My gifts were wrapped at the store-thanks Anne for that suggestion! And my cake is sinfully delicious and easy. Here’s the recipe: Double Chocolate German Cake

Prepare a chocolate sheet cake from a mix. Poke holes all over the cake. Heat a pint of heavy cream just to bubbly, do not boil. Add a bar of fine chocolate, about 3.5 ounces, broken into pieces and stir until chocolate melts. Sweeten with sugar to taste. I usually only add about 1/4 cup, but make it to your preference. Then pour about 2/3 of that mixture over the hot cake, letting it seep through the holes. Top with 2 cartons of prepared coconut, pecan icing, the kind used on German chocolate cakes. Then drizzle remaining chocolate over the top of the icing in zig-zag lines. It is sinfully delicious, simple, and moist, with a hint of hot fudge cake. Your guests will love it and it can be made in advance.

I shredded the cabbage, carrot, and yellow bell pepper for the cole slaw, but will wait until tomorrow to dress it so it won’t get soggy. I made the dip, tea, and punch, and purchased a few other beverages, including a bottle of champagne for the one having a twenty-first birthday.

I also picked up a pizza for dinner tonight and purchased breakfast items from a bakery so that I won’t have to fuss in the morning with fixing breakfast.

I have several go-to menus for impromptu parties. Some of our friends love my coq-au-vin, while brunch brings out the dainty tarts and fussy salads. But family get-togethers lend themselves to hearty meats cooked outdoors and creamy sides. Yum! I can hardly wait!

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