I have truly enjoyed entertaining house guests these past two months. Since we live in Florida near the water, we have guests who look forward to a change in scene and for some, to get away from frigid weather up north. Our guests have included my son and daughter-in-law and our two precious grandchildren, also a best friend from cold, snowy Ohio and a celebrity with his sister and personal assistant. It was fun and enjoyable simply because of the pre-planning and organization that I enjoy doing.
This is how I take the hassle out of entertaining overnight guests:
- Planning – Put together a plan for meals to be served including breakfast, lunch and dinner far in advance to allow sufficient time to shop for groceries and have the right food on hand.
- Food Preparation – Prepare most foods ahead, freeze or refrigerate.
- Breakfast – this meal tends to be more difficult to prepare in advance. Have on hand cereals, yogurts, protein powder to make smoothies, fresh fruit, eggs, bacon/sausage, pancake mix, frozen waffles. Preparing omelets and pancakes makes breakfast special and my guests enjoy watching this activity. Also, I have on hand a few additions so that my guests can personalize their omelet. I use Pillsbury frozen buttermilk biscuits, they are very easy to heat and serve with eggs.
- Lunch – sandwiches are the quickest and easiest to prepare. Have on hand a variety of deli meats, tomatoes, dressings. Package salad mixes work well along with a variety of bottled dressings. I prefer Bolthouse Farms dressings, a nice variety of flavors made with a yogurt base. Leftovers from dinner the night before also works well including fried chicken, cold sliced roast beef from grilled London Broil or a beef roast served over salad greens topped with dressing.
- Dinners – meals that can be made ahead include casseroles, tomato sauce, either with meat or marinara style, fried chicken breaded with Panko bread crumbs. I do the breading early in the day and refrigerate till ready to fry. Fry an hour before serving, and place in a warm oven (150?). This gives you additional time to set the table, prepare a salad and visit with guests. I also prepare breaded veal cutlets and fry in extra virgin olive oil or bake until brown. An easy meal is serving the cutlets with lemon slices, a vegetable and a salad. Also, the cutlets can be served cold the next day in a sandwich.
- Morning Coffee – if you have an auto-timer coffee maker, prepare coffee the night before and set to the time guest awake. Have cups, sweetener, and cream set out for guests to help themselves until breakfast is prepared.
- Eating Out – Choose restaurants in advance that your guests would enjoy and make reservations, if required. Plan ahead when you are going out to eat.
- Preparing the House – turn down bedding if guests arrive late in the day to welcome them to a comfortable sleep. A little treat on their pillow (Godiva chocolate) and a fresh flower in a bud vase on nightstand is a nice touch.
- Place an alarm clock in the bedroom.
- Have adequate hangers in the closet and provide drawer space. Find a space to store luggage.
- Bathroom – should be equipped with fresh soap at the sink and in the shower along with a shampoo and conditioner you like. Have an extra supply of towels stored in a convenient place for guests to reach. I use Downey fabric softener for a nice fresh fragrance. Since traveling by air these days makes packing some toiletries difficult, have on hand in the guest bathroom small bottles of lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, small size package of aspirin/ibuprofen, Band-Aids, even a spare hairdryer can come in handy. I also like to include a small package of TUMS, as it’s easy to over indulge when on vacation.
- Extra rolls of toilet tissue – (a must), also a box of tissues, cotton wipes and q-tips make guests feel at home when easily placed in their bathroom.
- Magazines and books in bedroom.
- Television/radio in bedroom, if possible.
When Children Come To Visit:
- Books – have an adequate supply appropriate for the age of the child.
- Entertainment – Puzzles, crayons, paper, scissors, Silly Putty will entertain a child for hours.
- Small variety of toys – have a large basket to store the toys, making cleanup easy.
- For convenience use frozen children meals. They also enjoy chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, bagels, waffles, canned soups and fresh fruit. Check with parents for beverages the child enjoys including juices, snack drinks and milk (i.e. nonfat, 1%).
- Kids Love Desserts – ice cream, cookies, snack food (again check with parents for suggestions).
I have found planning in advance has made my time with guests relaxing and gives me more time to spend visiting with them. Now, if only someone could tell me how to keep Freddie from demanding everyone’s attention, then I will truly be hassle free!