Wednesday, October 24, 2018

More Simplified Hosting Tips

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Although Monday's post covered a lot of things that make having overnight house guests easier and make your home more comfortable for them, I have a few more tips to add on how you can simplify hosting even more, particularly for quick happy hours or holiday get-togethers.  We often have people stop by for football games on Sundays or for cocktails during the week after John's done with football practice.  Since I don't get much notice for these type of gatherings, it's hard to host people if I'm not prepared ahead of time for impromptu guests.  But I also don't want to be wasting time in the kitchen, when I could be spending time with the people who came to see me.  So here's what I do to keep it as simple as possible, but still throw a great happy hour.

Always have easy appetizers on hand.  I made a list of the easiest and also the favorite snack foods of the people who regularly stop by.  This includes Triscuits and cheese, pretzel rods, chips and salsa, and mini break and bake cookies.  I also have some frozen items, like pre-made spinach dip and croissants, that can be ready in just a few minutes in the oven if I have a bigger crowd over.  When something runs out, I note that on the list so I can pick it up next time we're at the grocery.  I keep this list in Evernote, where I also made a list of the dishes that I serve them in, which brings me to:

Remove food from the package it came in.  I love the serving dishes we have from Crate and Barrel, but any sort of dish will do.  Serving chips in a bowl instead of the bag they came in instantly makes it look like you put a ton of effort in, when you really didn't.  The same goes for salsa, pretzels, any little appetizer you're serving.  I also love tiered serving trays for this.  They make everything look adorable.

Keep basic beverages stocked.  We don't stock every liquor or type of pop under the sun.  If a guest is particularly picky about what they drink, I find that they generally bring it themselves.  For everyone else, we always have American beer, red and white wine, champagne, and vodka.  There's also water, coffee, tea, and some sort of clear pop like Sprite.  These options will suit 99% of people who stop by.

Make it easy for guests to serve themselves.  Guests will help themselves if you make it easy for them and make it obvious that they're welcome to.  This takes 'make and serve cocktails' straight off your to do list.  We keep cups right on the bar car, beers in the fridge or a cooler, and leave out wine and liquor bottles with bottle openers and an ice bucket.  This also applies to the food options.  For appetizers, I put out little napkins and occasionally small plates, so guests know to take whatever they like.

Keep a generic playlist on your phone.  I find that classic rock is the easiest crowd pleaser.  We have a Bose speaker that connects to my phone over bluetooth, which also means that anyone else can connect to it if they really want to control the playlist.  A lot of people love this, they love picking the music.

Have a lot of clean seating options.  By clean, I mean stop throwing coats and tote bags over all the places a guest could sit down.

Keep cleaning supplies in the bathroom.  When you get word that people are stopping by, you can grab the all purpose spray and microfiber cloth and quickly wipe down the bathroom.  People also like to gather in kitchens, so it's a good idea to clean up in there too.

Relax.  People are at your home to see you and spend time with you, not judge your home while you're exhausting yourself in the kitchen.

How do you simplify hosting in your house?

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