Phone guests. With a last-minute gathering, the phone is your best chance of reaching guests in time. This way you also can ask family members and close friends if they’d mind picking up a bag of ice, bringing some extra napkins or something else that pares down your to-do list.Get food to go. Forget cooking — the last thing you need is to fuss over the stove. For parties, think takeout sushi, frozen cream puffs, pasta salad, precut fruit and slabs of cheese. Arrange it all on your own dishware, and it won’t look as though you’ve cut a single corner. If you’re having a holiday dinner and can't get your usual turkey, buy whole chickens or Cornish hens to roast. Or build the menu around something less traditional, such as fish or pork.