Friday, July 8, 2005

Easy Entertaining for the Unexpected Guest

The doorbell rings. The door opens and you find an unexpected guest stopping by for a quick visit. Refreshments, at least a drink, is a must. The thought of serving the usual coke or ice water for the millionth time is enough to make your head spin. And how about something to nibble on? Saltine crackers and animal cookies somehow seem like you’re providing snack time for a preschooler. How can Martha Stewart make quick entertaining look so easy and prepared? You obviously don’t have the time to starch and iron the special table covering that is packed away in your linen closet. And you don’t even want to think about constructing a new table cloth out of Martha’s idea of odds and ends.

Preparedness is essential in almost every situation, but it is always nice to show off your hospitality skills when you have a guest over to your humble abode. Here are some tips for keeping the unexpected company wondering HOW you did it!

The first thing to do to be ready for the unexpected guest is to find the items that are suitable for your style of entertaining. Serving tea with crumpets on a lace tablecloth is a bit on the overly fancy side for most people. Something in-between would be ideal. What compliments your unique style? Perhaps a glass of iced tea with a slice of lemon to eat out on your porch - perfect for a spring or summer day. Have a pitcher of iced tea and a lemon ready in your fridge. When a guest arrives, pour it into a more decorative dispenser and serve with a plate of sliced lemons. How about a quick cup of coffee or tea with a chocolate dipped biscotti on the side? Coffee or hot tea would be good for an early morning or evening visitor. Make sure that you enough coffee on hand for an entire pot of refills. It is best to serve both the tea and coffee with real cream. Keep the cream in stock and dispense with an attractive sugar and creamer set. Something light and easy is key to a quick assembly.

Presentation is not a must, but it does add to the atmosphere. Have a place in your home set aside for the unexpected visitor. A living room is ideal since it is a place that is usually not in use by most families on a daily basis. However, a cleared dinette table with a simple tablecloth and a vase of flowers, a potted herb or a house plant will do just fine. Remember to keep the presentation similar to your decorating taste for the prepared, yet not overdone, look.

Music and Candles are also a nice extra. Music should also suit your taste, but should be in the background so that you can still engage in a conversation without having to talk loudly. Always keep a CD that is suitable for the unexpected company in your CD player so that you can just push the play button when the doorbell rings. Candles add warmth and a nice fragrance to your house, whether company is present or not. Candlelight is perfect for a relaxed atmosphere. A light fragrance is best as to not overpower. Try a variety of scents prior to entertaining so that you can find the perfect scent for your house. Maybe a French vanilla coffee, blueberry muffin, vanilla bean or raspberry tea scent would be right for you.

Remember that entertaining the unexpected guest should be easy and stress-free for you. Always be prepared and then sit back and enjoy your company. Good luck and have fun entertaining!
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