I love to entertain, and when it’s overnight guests, which also happen to be family members, that’s even better. One of my favorite things in the entire world is being with my family, and we had both children, their spouses, and Little Miss here for the long July 4th weekend. As a bonus, my brother-in-law and nephew, who are ending up a road trip from Alaska, spent a few days here, also. Our last bit of company left yesterday. Although it was a lot of work, I was in heaven and thoroughly enjoyed all of the cooking and cleaning. Some people just panic when it’s time to have out-of-towners stay a few days, but after years of experience, I have a check-list of six tips for hosting overnight guests that will make the experience stress-free for the hostess.
CLEAN IN ADVANCE – Someone told me once that people don’t notice if your house is clean, but they notice if it’s dirty. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know that I want a clean house when our guests arrive. Let’s say our guests are arriving on Friday. I’ll do the heavy cleaning on Wednesday. If I notice that something needs a repair, a paint touch-up is needed, there are a few dirty windows, or something needs a spot cleaning, then I have time to do it. Waiting till the last minute to clean just doesn’t work for me. I want the cleaning bucket to be stowed away and my house to be sparkling when the door bell rings.
PLAN THE MENU AND DO THE GROCERY SHOPPING IN ADVANCE – I like to sit down with a pen, notebook, and cookbooks and plan each meal for each day. If it’s just bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, I write it down because that will require bagels from my local shop and cream cheese from the grocery. As I am making my menu, I have a shopping list right there, too. I write down each ingredient that I need to purchase, and I also check my pantry to make sure everything is in full supply. I also have a list of the shops I will need to visit. For instance, wine will require a stop at the wine shop (we can’t buy wine in our grocery stores here in Kentucky.) To simplify shopping, I sometimes use my store’s app to shop online and pick the things up later. However, when I’m about to entertain, I would rather physically go to the store and make my own selections. Plus, I might see something in the store that I forgot to add to my list.
FILL SOME ROOMS WITH FLOWERS – It’s so nice to have a large bouquet of flowers in a main traffic area in your home and a few smaller bouquets in your guests’ bedrooms and in the powder room. My local market gets their flower shipments on Mondays and Fridays. I always try to buy flowers on those days so they will stay fresh longer. (Each bouquet has a sell-by date on it just like a gallon of milk does.) Since I have already done my cleaning and big grocery shopping by then, I have time at the last minute to stop in and buy fresh flowers and to make an early morning run to the bagel shop. It’s all about the details, and those last-minute details make entertaining a little more special.
PLAN YOUR WARDROBE – I even like to plan my wardrobe in advance. I always make sure that all of the laundry is washed and ironed before our guests arrive, and since I know which activities we will be doing, I select the clothes I will be wearing in advance. When we have overnight guests, I like to be dressed and ready for my day as soon as I get up each morning. That gives me time to get the Keuring ready, empty the dish washer, fluff the pillows, bring in the paper, change the water in the fresh flower bouquets, set out the plates, and breakfast items, etc. Having my outfits planned in advance saves me a step when I need to be doing something else.
SCHEDULE ACTIVITIES AND RESERVATIONS, BUT BE FLEXIBLE– I research things that are going on around town and buy tickets in advance. Ditto for restaurants. We have a new and very popular restaurant that makes an excellent brunch. As soon as I knew we would be going there after church on the July 4th long weekend, I made reservations. Be prepared to be flexible, and consider your guests’ interests and restrictions when planning what you will be doing. For instance, I made reservations to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the local Thoroughbred Center. However, we had to be there by 8:45 in the morning, and I knew Jordan, Yankee, and Little Miss would not arriving until after midnight the night before. Getting a sleepy toddler up and out the door that early was not a good idea, so I canceled the reservations. Instead, we walked to the farmers’ market mid-morning and discovered on the way that the library was having children’s activities in the park. Also, a local coffee shop was having a big birthday celebration near another park. By being flexible, we had a lovely morning, and we were all happy. It all worked out so much better.
HAVE A PLAN B FOR BAD WEATHER – It’s great to have outdoor activities planned in the summer unless the weather forecast predicts rain. Always have a back-up plan. Know which movies are playing in your area, and what’s going on at the local museums. Also, have some board games and puzzles ready. Two that we love are Cranium and Quiddler. Sometimes all it takes is a deck of cards and a good game of rummy to make everyone happy.
So, that’s it for my suggestions. I stand by them and am pretty sure that you follow them, you can make entertaining in your own homes a little easier. If you have any to add to the list, we would love to hear them.
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