I like to consider myself somewhat of a domestic goddess. The type that’s in training, anyway. Around the holidays I start with good intentions. I mail out holiday cards early and prepare menus for homemade food and treats for holiday meals. Every year I say this is the year I will have all of my ducks, hams and turkeys in a row. This is is the year I won’t forget anything. Then the doorbell rings and unexpected, yet welcome, guests arrive. How did I not plan for this, I wonder, in all the glory of my holiday organizing? But this time, it will be different. Because I will be prepared, and you can be, too.
1. Fresh-Baked Goodness: One for You, One for the Freezer
Whenever I bake a batch of homemade cookies I make a double batch of the batter. Half of the cookies I bake and the other half I freeze. I roll up the second batch of cookie batters into uniform cookie balls and freeze them on a waxed paper lined tray. Once they’re frozen, I place them in a bag or an air-tight container. When unexpected guests arrive I stealthily turn preheat the oven right after I put a kettle of fresh water on to boil, for tea.
2. Coffee, Tea or Kiwi?
As part of my post-morning ritual, after the family has left the house for the day I empty out the coffee grinds and set up the coffee for the next morning. Should unexpected house guests arrive, I will be ready. I also pick up extra boxes of tea with holiday-infused flavors including cardamom and cinnamon. Around the holidays, I also by single-serving decaffeinated coffee and herbal teas to accommodate unexpected guests.
During the colder months, I don’t mind spending a little more on fresh fruit, to ensure my family receives the vitamins they need. From fresh strawberries to apples, bananas or kiwis I can always make up a quick fruit plate for guests.
3. Practical vs. Pretty
No, this is not a neighborhood glam war that I’m starting. But it is revolutionary. I was tired of looking at the bill organizer and papers which had taken center stage on the shelf above my kitchen island, while my pretty teapots were stashed away and hidden.
I found a new home for the bills and reorganized them into a daily binder and tucked it away. Now four pretty tea pots, a variety of sweeteners and a stack of square dessert plates sits on a pewter tray. The kitchen is much more inviting and I don’t have to fumble around for china when unexpected guests arrive.
4. Shortcut to Table Settings
I like to be able to pull off a Wonder Woman-like transformation in the kitchen. I turn the true hearth of our home, the kitchen table, into a warm and festive place. By picking up a few carefully-selected solid-colored table cloths, I can decorate for any holiday. Red is versatile, as are brown, yellow and black. I also buy a selection of holiday-themed napkins, candles, table decorations and paper plates. For some reason, unexpected guests feel more comfortable letting you serve them something delicious if they don’t feel like they’ve put you out. Paper plates to the rescue!
5. Keeping It Clean
The most difficult challenge of being prepared for unexpected guests during the holidays is worrying that the house is not clean enough. I take the time daily to clean the kitchen and bathroom as they are the two rooms unexpected guests are most likely to use. Running a quick vacuum through the family room and sweeping the stairs also keeps the house looking ready for company.
This year I will be ready, so go ahead and ring the doorbell.