We are fabulous at entertaining. Wow, that sounded snarky… Oh well! If you got it – flaunt it… and we got this!!!
It is easier than you might think, with practice.
I am reaching into my apron pockets to share with you some of the little extras we have done to make our guests forget the long drive it took to get here.
In 2 years of entertaining, we have learned that organization is key.
To ask me to go to town because I forgot something is like asking for a kidney. Yes, I just said, “go to town” – that’s what you call it when you are 25 minutes from the nearest stalk of celery. We live in the country, in the backwoods, but not so far that we buy our dinner at the gas station. Not that there is anything wrong with that…
Being organized means less stress, nobody needs a stressed out hostess, most of all, not the hostess. I am a list maker – mostly because I forget things. Once I made a dozen deviled eggs and forgot about them until our guests had gone… the dogs were happy. That taught me to keep the menu posted on the side of the refrigerator for constant reference.
Now, Let’s Pick those Apron Pockets…
- Theme – I love a theme! It just makes the day flow better. The food, drink, music and activities all revolve around a theme. Here are 3 of our favorites:
Fire & Ice Day – Start the day with flaming Banana’s Foster for breakfast and Hot Wings for lunch, ice down your shirt when you least expect it, and an evening bonfire!
Stars & Stripes Day – All Americana!! What could be better than good old-fashioned Potato Salad, a Hamburger on the grill with Apple Pie a la mode for dessert? Top the night off with Fireworks and StarGazing.
Amigo’s Day – Delicious Mexican Cuisine and Margaritas with a dash of Latin Music – you might even see some Salsa Dancing!
- Drink of the Day – Most our guests stay 2 or 3 days, to keep things simple, we offer a drink of the day, changing it to match the daily theme. My advice is to stay away from the type of drink that relates to the “Goodnight Irene” – getting stupid and passing out is not that fun.
- Fresh Flowers – Want a warm welcome? How about some fresh flowers? We pick wildflowers from our fields and display them in a simple mason jar on the nightstand. We like simple, you won’t find a “Vaahz” at the Lodge.
- Powder Room Towels – let’s face it, a towel is only fresh for the first person to use it. I get bundles of cheap white washcloths at Walmart and place them next to the sink, after each use, just toss them in the galvanized hamper when finished. BOOM – everybody gets a fresh towel! You can get a pack of 18 for under $4.
- Bug Jars – Remember the kids! Save old jars – poke some holes in the lids, slap on a label and with a chalk pen write the child’s name on it, because no child wants to lose track of their bugs! Lightning bugs are a favorite. If you are not from Missouri, you might know them as “fireflies”.
- Snack Tin – Keep healthy mom-approved snacks within reach for the kids, I include tokens that are good for popsicles. (I use tokens because popsicles would melt in the tin). I know YOU knew that, but this blog goes out to the general public – think of it as my warning label for those others. You know, the ones who have to be warned not to use a hot curling iron on their eyelashes…
- Playlist – keep the music going, but keep it low enough so people can visit, it is fun to match it with your daily theme.
- Outdoor Plates/Utensils/Napkins – Okay, it is time to get real… Seriously – Using “real”, not paper or plastic is no problem if you have a dishwasher. Aunt Ethel’s potato salad would have never fallen off her floppy plate onto the patio if real plates were used. I buy real plates and utensils at garage sales & thrift stores. Cheap Cheap Cheap! It is even better when they are all mismatched! We drink from Mason Jars and use cloth napkins, well, not exactly “napkins” but the same type washcloths we use in the Powder Room – the white washcloths sold in bundles from Walmart because we are just thrifty like that!
- Mason Jar Drinks – these are perfect, I make them ahead of time, seal them and write on the lids with a sharpie to identify the contents, plunge them in an ice bucket and guests pick what refreshments they want.
- Fresh Wet Napkins – remember those Individual Powder Room towels and the outdoor napkins? Use the same type of washcloths – soak in a bit of warm water and fresh lemon slices to clean that BBQ sauce off Cousin Joey’s eyebrow! Wet just works better.
- Sunscreen/Bug Spray – I keep a steady supply of both handy.
- Itinerary – okay I know this sounds a bit over the top – but I have learned from experience – If you want things to flow without stress – have an itinerary – sure, you don’t have to follow it exactly, but if you need an idea, there it is, right there on that itinerary!
- Keep Extra Stuff Handy – We keep spare life jackets, fishing gear, beach towels, travel size toothpaste & toothbrushes. Our guests will find an extra sweatshirt in the closet if the evenings get chilly while star gazing or making smores by the firepit.
- Fresh Line Dried Bedding – At the end of a fun day – Crawling under the fresh air dried sheets not only smells amazing but the feel is something they will remember.
- Practice Effect – I thought about keeping this one in my pocket – but since you took the time to read to this point, I will share our biggest secret….
You know how when it is time to light the grill and your husband is off shooting the breeze with the guys… and you can actually hear a thunderstorm approaching – no wait, that is the rumbling of stomachs all around you? You start stressing that dinner will be at midnight!
We have learned that the host and hostess are in sync when you make the same menu each time you have company. That’s right the same menu… by the 3rd time you make Creole Low Country Boil – you both know exactly what needs to be done and when. So dinner is on time and everyone is happy. A bonus tip is that your grocery list will always be the same. Seriously, if you entertain much and the visitors are different each time, no one will ever guess that you just had these same meals last weekend and will have them again next weekend.
- Communication – send guests a note letting them know what to expect so they can bring swimwear, etc. Also, be sure to ask about food allergies or issues.
When everyone leaves, fix yourself a well-deserved cocktail, you can get all those dozens of white washcloths washed & dried tomorrow.
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