How To: Be Prepared for Unexpected GuestsMonday, June 16, 2008
There you are, sitting on the sofa enjoying the company of a good book and a cold glass of lemonade when the phone rings. A friend wants to "drop by" and stay for a "couple of nights". That's okay, right? You wish you hadn't answered the phone. Unexpected (read: uninvited) guests happen. And when they do, up goes the blood pressure. There are things you can do to be prepared.
The four main things you need to concentrate on are: Having food for your guest, having a place for them to clean up, having a place for them to sleep, and tidying up the public areas of your home.
Feeding Your Guest: It is unlikely that your guest will not be sharing at least a couple of meals with you, so it helps to have ingredients on hand for some simple, but delicious, meals. Keep these ingredients in a special place in the pantry or fridge so that you and the rest of your family knows not to eat them.
For a snack, cookies and snack mix served in pretty dishes look smore impressive than it is. Keep an assorted box of teas on hand to please everyone.
For lunch or dinner, Homemade Macaroni & Cheese served in individual remekins and garnished with some fresh parsley is elegant and yummy after a long trip. Pair it with a simple salad and add a bottle of a light-bodied wine, like Reisling, to refresh a weary traveler.
For a hearty breakfast after your guest has had a relaxing night of sleep, serve pancakes with gourmet fruit syrups. The night before, mix the batter and pour it into a squeeze bottle. Making the pancakes will be faster and far less messy. Cut strawberries into small bowls and sprinkle with sugar to release the juices.
Whether or not you have an official "Guest Bath", you guests need to feel welcome to use their designated bathroom. Keep a small box handy with interesting scented shampoos and soaps, a pretty soapdish, and a candle. Keep a couple sets of towels (white Turkish cotton always looks crisp and feels great!) set aside for last minute visitors. Make sure there is plenty of space on the counter for their toiletries. And don't forget to put an extra roll of toilet paper out where they can see it! My mom has a cute bucket next to the toilet where she stores a couple spare rolls so that no one will go digging in her cabinets!
If you've ever had to search for matching bed linens in a rush, you know it can be immensely frustrating. Save yourself some stress by folding all the sheets neatly and tucking them inside their pillowcase for the next use. Up your domestic god(dess) cred by putting out a delicate bowl of chocolates and a single bloom in a bud vase on the nightstand. Reading material is always appreciated, so put down a few different magazines. Supply some substantial hangers (i.e. "No more wire hangers!!!") for hanging clothing and your guests will feel like the walked into a spa!
The thing that always takes the most time when preparing for visitors is cleaning, but if someone is on their way over you don't have time to scour the baseboards. First things first: Get all of the clutter out of sight. Focus on the areas that you guest will be in- the living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. I love open shelving, but it is not conducive to hiding messes, so having cabinets with doors is a must. Make sure all counters and mirrors are wiped down. Give the toilet and bathtub a quick scrub, too. Hit wood pieces with a shot of wood polish to make them shine. Finally run the vaccuum throughout the house. Light a few candles here and there and you're ready to play Host(ess) of the Year! See, that wasn't so bad!
A Note to the Last Minute Guest: Your host or hostess has been working hard, so don't forget the say thank you!