Last week I mentioned that we did some spontaneous entertaining, and a few of you were so impressed with my ability to be so flexible and prepared. First of all, I will clarify that we simply invited a friend whose wife was out of town to join us for an easy meal of pasta and tossed salad. I didn’t even serve dessert!
We don’t do that often, but I do make an effort to always leave the house in a way that wouldn’t embarrass me if someone showed up unexpectedly. Here are a couple things that make entertaining not so intimidating.
#1 Keep your home presentable by implementing morning and evening routines
Your house does not have to be spotless and pristine from top to bottom when you entertain. That’s why there are doors that can be closed to hide the laundry room, playroom or office! Just set up and maintain routines that keep the main areas of your house as presentable as possible.
In my approach to entertaining, I strive to give my guests two main feelings when they enter the door – “I was expecting you” and “Make yourself at home!” A couch covered in unfolded laundry doesn’t say “I was expecting you,” and it certainly is difficult for someone to make themselves at home on that couch!
#2 Deal with main zones before company arrives
If you do end up with last minute guests, don’t worry about reorganizing the linen closet in the 10 minutes before they arrive. Just hit those main areas – vacuum a rug, empty a few trash cans, turn on some lamps and make sure there is a clean, dry hand towel in the bathroom.
Kids can be helpful with this too, depending on their age. Have them divide and conquer while you head to the kitchen or greet your guests!
#3 Offer snacks before the meal
If you need a few minutes to get things going in the kitchen, set out some simple snacks for your guests. In my recent entertaining situation, I set out a bowl of grapes with some pretzels and hummus alongside a stack of pretty paper napkins and small plates.
I always do this for holiday meals – it keeps people occupied and gives me plenty of time to get things going without worrying that everyone is starving to death. I’ve found that easy snacks are the best options. Baked dips and hot appetizers are fun, but they kind of defeat the purpose on your end.
What’s your best entertaining secret?