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How to Entertain House Guests

How to Entertain House Guests

Do what you can to make your guests feel they will be well taken care of while they're staying over

Follow these useful tips to have a successful and stress-free weekend with house guests.

Do you ever find yourself completely stressing out the night before house guests arrive for the weekend? There’s a laundry list of things to do, aside from the actual laundry, and not enough time to finish it all. We’ve all been there. I love it when friends and family come to visit us for a few days, but between planning meals and daily activities to cleaning the house from top to bottom, it can also be the most stressful experience imaginable.

A few of the things I’ve learned, as with many things in life, involve planning ahead. From homemade meals to little flourishes to add to your guest room, we’ve got the checklist you need to be the best host for weekend house guests!

Clean Up!

Ideally, we would all be able to maintain a clean house the majority of the time. But realistically, if you’re like me, it’s a small victory to have all the dishes done at the end of the day. If you have the time and energy to keep a clean house, good for you. If not, here are a few tips for the week before your guests arrive to help minimize your last-minute work load.

  • Make sure your own laundry is done and out of the way. You’ll feel more organized and put-together.
  • If you have five rooms in your house, start five days in advance and clean one room a day. Vacuum, dust, organize, and disinfect any surfaces. Do the bathroom your guest will be using and the room they will be sleeping in last so they are the freshest.

To get more tips from Menuism, head here.


50 Activities to Entertain Your Houseguests

The reason you invite guests to stay with you in your homes during the holidays, or any other season for that matter, is that these family and friends do not live close by and you would like to enjoy an extended visit with them. Once you have caught up on the latest news and gossip and admired how much their children have grown, then what do you do?

The best way to keep the visit from becoming tiring after the excitement of the first day has passed is to build activities into your plan for entertaining houseguests. Activities can get everyone who needs a bit of diversion out of the house and leaves behind those who perhaps need a little quiet time to recharge.

Take a look at a list of 50 activities you can do with your houseguests, most are organized by season. Some of these activities will be best with children, some will be adult only, but you can choose those that best suit your guests. Most of these activities cost very little money, which is something you will want to consider, especially if your guests have incurred large expenses traveling to your home. If you do propose an activity that is expensive, be sure to clear it first with your guests before you purchase tickets and give them less expensive alternatives so they can decline the expense gracefully.


Hosting overnight guests: 10 easy tips to help your visitors feel welcome

A s you’re reading this, we are hosting out-of-town guests in our home for a few days. Some people where we live kindly refer to us as a “bed and breakfast” because we have so many guests pass through our hallways – and we love it.

We don’t have a lot of room, but we do our best to make room for anyone who needs a pillow to rest their head for the night. We take seriously our family’s mission statement, “Live Simply – Grow – Honor Relationships – Celebrate,” and we feel like making our home a haven for all who enter is a small way we can honor our relationships.

Yes, it’s a bit exhausting to have extra people within your walls, and yes, it does provide more work – for a time. But really, we truly love having guests. They usually play with our children, which everyone enjoys, and it provides us a nice break from the hum-drum of daily life. Hosting guests doesn’t have to be a pain – it can be something you look forward to.

Here are 10 ways you can help visitors feel more at home:

1. Be yourself. Truly. Most house guests aren’t expecting a perfectly immaculate house, and if they are, there’s no point in loading your shoulders with the pressure to try. The best kind of guests are there to see you, not you on stage.

2. Let your guests be themselves. Really mean it when you say, “make yourself at home.” If you’re willing to have guests, be willing to let them put their feet up on your coffee table. This is within reason, of course – don’t let manipulative people treat you like a doormat.

3. Provide extra toiletries. We have a basket of basic essentials that we bring out for overnighters, and we leave it on the guest bathroom counter for them to help themselves. It’s nothing fancy – just toothpaste, soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, and unopened toothbrushes. I stock up on some of these items when they’re on sale, and this is also a great use for those travel-sized freebies from hotels.

4. Make things easy to find. When they first arrive, have all their needed towels either out on the bathroom counter, or on their bed or night stand. If they’re early risers – earlier than you, anyway – leave out some basic breakfast goodies for them to help themselves. Don’t forget the dishes and silverware, too.

If they arrive after a long trip, put a little basket of refreshments on their night stand. A simple bottle of water, a package of nuts, maybe a banana, and a little welcome note can really make them feel welcome.

5. Keep coffee and tea on hand. Even if you don’t drink it, a coffee drinker is always thankful to have the means to make a cup of joe in the morning. It doesn’t have to be anything high-end if you don’t drink it, but make sure it’s fresh.

6. Create some simple extra touches to make your guests feel welcomed and attended to. Place an inexpensive flower in a small vase on their night stand. Provide a great-smelling candle and a book of matches. Make sure there’s an alarm clock available, too.

7. Provide reading material. Collect a few magazines and put them in an easy-to-reach basket near their bed. Maybe even select a good book of short stories (short stories are good, so that guests can actually finish what they’re reading, as opposed to a long novel). If there’s something you’ve really wanted your house guest to read, now’s a great time to oh-so subtly leave it on the night stand, waiting to be read.

8. Depending on the reason for their visit, you may want to provide information about where you live. If they’re in town on vacation, provide some brochures about tourist spots, a map, and maybe something unique about where you live for them to enjoy while they’re in town – a book from a local author, a travel guide, or a CD from a local musician.

9. Let them help around the house. Don’t put them to work, of course, but I’ve learned after having 25 overnight guests this year alone, people will be more relaxed and feel less like an intruder if you say yes to their inevitable question, “Can I do anything?” Let them do something small, like set the silverware at the dinner table, or stir the soup bubbling on the stove. Chat with them while you work together, and take that time to get to know more about them.

10. Keep your immediate family’s time sacred. This can be challenging, depending on the situation, but do your best to still spend some quality time with just those in your household. This is especially true if you have small children, who don’t always understand why Mom is busier than usual, or why a new person is sleeping in their playroom. It doesn’t have to be anything major – simply continuing with the usual bedtime story, or snuggling on the couch and asking about her day – can keep little ones content and less likely to act up for attention.

Do you like having guests in your home? What’s the hardest part about it? Share your hosting tips that work well for you.


2. Stage the Room

If you want your guests to feel like particular care has been taken, you will also take the time to stage the room as part of your preparation. For instance, some hosts say that they like to leave a bottle of water by the bed and some mints as or chocolates their special touch. Because people will often become thirsty during the night, a bottle of water close to the bed is the very minimum that.

Also, if your guests are from out of town, you may also leave a guidebook of the area in the room or a list of suggested things to see. This is a terrific addition to any guest’s bedroom since it will not only give them some useful material to read late at night, but also help them with planning their next day.


Easy Entertaining with House Guests

We recently had the opportunity to entertain house guests for the weekend and the McCraveys, Hobgoods, and Newmans take the prize for being the best guests in the whole world. I have always heard that you treat your family like guests and your guests like family. Our new family members took it a step further. They cooked, cleaned up and generally left us in better shape than they found us.

Debbie Hobgood showed me how to make the best breakfast burritos and how to make extra for freezing. It is always fun to have people drop by to visit with us and our guests. I think that the secret to easy entertaining is to be "laid-back" and enjoy the variety of personalities. There are a few other things that help, so lets talk about entertaining houseguests and the tricks of the trade that make it easier.

There are no hard and fast rules for weekend guests and their hosts. Some people like to be entertained every minute. Others have no plan and simply want to enjoy your company. Regardless of their preferences for activity, there are some things that are certain to please everyone. These include extra blankets if it is cold, a fan to help beat the heat, good reading lamps, current magazines, a clock and new toothbrushes, toothpaste and other goodies just in case someone forgot something.

I will just go ahead and tell you that Danny Crowder also had house guests for the same weekend and he put baskets with wine, snacks and other treats in each guest room. Of course, he is always over the top and you have to be careful with doing things that well. You could end up running a bed and breakfast! The whole trick to enjoying your company is hidden away in your well stocked pantry and refrigerator. You don't want to spend the whole weekend in the kitchen so do as much as you can in advance. If you don't have an accurate time of arrival, plan a meal that can either wait indefinitely or be prepared in a hurry. Give your guests a minute to relax and unwind with a cool drink before the meal.

Basically hostesses fall into one of two categories. The first loves help in the kitchen, the second is the one who cannot stand to have others working in her space. Luckily, I am the first kind and I prefer house guests who do just about everything for me. They feel at home when they feel needed! Let your guests know about breakfast plans for the morning after. Have hot coffee, cold juice and diet sodas and you can probably give everyone a happy wake up call.

It is always fun to invite friends over to meet your guests. Sunday brunch is the perfect time to do this. Brunch menus offer opportunities for creative food combinations. On Sunday mornings, no one is usually in a hurry and can enjoy the festivities. This is your chance to set a pretty table. I like to use real dishes but paper plates are also attractive. Don't feel like your home has to look like a Las Vegas resort to entertain company. Your company came to see you ? not your house.

I told you earlier about the fabulous breakfast burritos that I learned how to make. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Using the leftover hash browned potatoes and fried ham from the previous morning's breakfast I diced the ham, added the potatoes and heated this together in a large cast iron skillet. We had children present so I didn't add peppers or onions to the mix but this would certainly add flavor. (We had fresh pico de gallo using the peppers and onions!) For 24 breakfast burritos, I used 18 eggs and scrambled these in with the ham and potatoes. After this was done, we tore off 24 squares of aluminum foil (about 12" square) and put a flour tortilla on the top square, sprinkled it with grated cheese and added a generous spoonful of the egg mixture. Let the tortilla absorb the warmth for a moment and then rolled the mixture in the tortilla and then the burrito in the foil square. We repeated this for the rest of the tortillas and put the rolled and wrapped burritos in a large oblong pan and put it in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes to give the cheese time to melt and let the burritos get good and hot. As people were ready to eat, they just had to grab a burrito, or two, and make themselves at home. We had a few leftover but they didn't make it past Monday breakfast at our house. You can also make these in advance and freeze them for future use.

By now, you are probably wondering why we all had house guests for the same weekend. Kayla McCravey and Levi Hubble got married! Their out of town guests were fun, the bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, and the weekend was a huge success. I hope you have an opportunity to entertain house guests soon and have as much fun as we did.


Choose the Menu Carefully

Backyard barbecues usually mean communal bowls of chips and dips, a pile of ribs or large pot of pulled pork that anyone can help themselves to, and a cooler filled with cold beers, bottled water, and a carton of lemonade. Due to COVID-19, the community-oriented, help-yourself-style of serving is a thing of the past. "Self-service where guests handle spoons and tongs is not acceptable in this climate," says Lloyd. Instead, he recommends having pre-plated meals for each guest in order to minimize the direct contact that people have with the food𠅊nd each other. If you do want to serve food buffet-style, place protective barriers over any exposed food and have hand sanitizer readily available for guests in line. "The safest way to distribute food [buffet-style] is to have one person designated to serve and for that one person to have meticulous hand hygiene," says. Dr. Hochman.

For your barbecue menu, plan to serve individual bags of potato chips prepared burgers, hot dogs, and pulled pork sandwiches on individual plates that guests can grab one at a time and serve potato salad and other salads in small plastic cups. Personal sweet treats that fit the bill include our Cardamom-Scented Peach-Apricot Cobblers, this Cherry-Raspberry Semifreddo, or Basil-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelຎ.

Experts also advise against using the same plates and cups for second helpings in order to prevent spreading germs. Instead, use compostable and recyclable dinnerware to reduce the environmental impact of paper waste.


House Hunters and Entertaining

How much entertaining do these people do on House Hunters? I want to know. This post is for the WordPress Daily Prompt and couldn’t be more perfect about the annoying people on House Hunters and the things they complain about or find vitally important to their shelter.

This room would be perfect for entertaining.

We need a large kitchen because we love to entertain.

There isn’t a space for entertaining.

It’s gotten so bad that I’ve made a drinking game out of it. You drink whenever someone says entertain. I mean, you could have House Hunters Amish Edition or House Hunters Meth House and you would still hear Farmer Miller state they need a place for reading the bible….and to cook the meth. I always thought they needed a Trailer House Hunters. How funny would that be? There would be a pit bull chained to one of them while the second lacked plumbing and the last one? Well that one had a built on car port. But I digress.

And I don’t even like entertaining. You have to clean your house, buy food, cook food, decide on the activities and lastly, you have to clean yourself up. Too much work! Before I got married and would register for the wedding, it was all about entertaining. The registry consultant would hand you glossy brochures showing beautiful young couples around a perfectly set table. A few guests were raising their long stem wine glasses while a few guys had their new beer mugs. Everyone’s laughing and simply having the best time of their lives, all because they are entertaining.

You want to know what my entertaining looks like? This is it, in a complete nutshell:

“You can come over but my house is dirty and I haven’t showered.”

Boom! Now how many of you have said something along those lines to a friend or relative? And I know many of you have because that’s the warning I get when I go over to a friend’s house. It’s a mutual understanding that as long as you provide wine, your attempts at entertaining is adequate enough.

What do you guys think? Do you seriously (don’t lie) love to entertain or are you as annoyed as I am with the entertainers of house hunters?


Bookmark These Garden-to-Table Recipes for All Your Summer Gatherings

In my fantasy, it’s a midsummer evening, 70 degrees in southern California. I head out to the garden to pluck some heirloom tomatoes for that night’s rigatoni, copious basil leaves for sprinkling on top, and while I’m at it, an armful of dahlias to go in the handmade vase that sits in the center of the table out on the lawn.

No doubt part of my daydream lies in the sheer joy of gathering friends together, after a year without that simple pleasure. But it’s also rooted in the idea of doing it all effortlessly, finding joy in the creative process, and letting go of any ideas about “impressing my guests.”

This sense of ease and joy is what I always hope to feel when I gather people together at home—though sometimes I’m more successful than others. And it’s why I was immediately drawn to Valerie Rice’s new cookbook, Lush Life: Food & Drinks From the Garden, out next week. Rice lives in Santa Barbara, and her sprawling gardens, chicken coop, and stunning Mediterranean-style home are not only straight out of a Nancy Meyers film—they’re the setting for the menus she brings to life throughout her book. Each recipe feels celebratory but is simple enough to make any day of the week, proving that a beautiful summer night is cause enough for celebration on its own. I got an advance copy of the book, and Rice was kind enough to share two of my favorite recipes for summer entertaining with us ahead of its release!

Scroll on to make her recipes for Blood Orange Margaritas and Avocado Slaw, and peep a few scenes from her book below. You can pre-order it right here!

“Eat and drink what’s in season and you’ll never grow bored, your menus will be less complicated, and everything will taste better.”

It’s Valerie Rice’s motto, and though the seasonal recipes throughout her book are perfect for family meals all year long, I’m especially drawn to her summer recipes for entertaining, paired with cocktail recipes and wine advice.

Her book also re-ignited my desire to plant an edible garden at home—an idea that you guys might remember was in process last year—but got put on hold when we found and purchased a beach house last summer and all our creative efforts were diverted there. However, Valerie’s gardening tips have challenged me to at least get started — maybe I won’t get around to my full vision of raised beds this year, but I can at least plant some big pots of herbs to add seasonality and freshness to our meals all summer.

On her inspiration for these her signature blood orange margaritas, Rice says, “Tart, delicious, and so beautiful, blood orange season is something to celebrate… if you live in a warm climate as we have in Santa Barbara (where the days are warm and the nights are cool), buy a tree and plant it in your yard. If you’re tight on space, grow a dwarfed variety in a large pot. You’ll know the citrus is ready to be picked when the peel looks slightly red like it was dusted in rust.”

These Blood Orange Margaritas are the perfect way to celebrate summer (whether or not you have a citrus grove at home.) I’ll be mixing them up next week for Cinco de Mayo, along with these other summer recipes for entertaining. Click here for the full recipe from Lush Life: Food & Drinks from the Garden.

From Rice: “This slaw has been a consistent hit at my house for years, whether it’s for a party for fifty or a regular at-home Taco Tuesday night. You can use whatever fresh radishes and cabbage you have on hand. I use a handheld mandoline to slice the carrots and radishes thinly. You can make it a few hours in advance—I even love it the next day.” Click here to get the recipe for this Avocado Slaw from Lush Life: Food & Drinks from the Garden.

Images and recipes from Lush Life: Food & Drinks from the Garden by Valerie Rice, Prospect Park Books 2021. Photo credit: Gemma and Andrew Ingalls.


Don’t let your kids play with tablets or gaming consoles the whole day. Take them to the playground. Most playgrounds are free and open to all. The adults can get their caffeine fix while the kids run around the place. If the playground isn’t available, you can go to an open court. Don’t forget to bring a ball that you will use.

You can visit a sanctuary or a preservation area to see some animals. You can look at different species of animals and see how they act when in their natural habitat. It’ll make you appreciate how unique each animal is. You can also visit aquariums and oceanariums if you’re into underwater creatures.


How to entertain house guests

Guests usually take the train from London, and before we pick them up I remind Hugh that, for the duration of their visit, he and I will be playing the role of a perfect couple. This means no bickering and contradicting one another. If I am seated at the kitchen table and he is standing behind me, he is to place a hand on my shoulder, right on the spot where a parrot would perch if I were a pirate instead of the ideal boyfriend. When I tell a story he has heard so often he could lip-synch to it, he is to pretend to be hearing it for the first time, and to be appreciating it as much or more than our guests are. I'm to do the same, and to feign delight when he serves something I hate, like fish with little bones in it. I really blew this a few years back, in Normandy, when his friend Sue came for the night and he poached what might as well have been a hairbrush. Blew it to such an extent that after she left I considered having her killed. "She knows too much," I said to Hugh. The woman's a liability now and we need to contain her".

His friend Jane has seen some ugliness as well, and though I like both her and Sue, and have known them both for going on twenty years, they fall under the category of Hugh's guests. This means that though I play my role, it's not my responsibility to entertain them. Yes, I offer the occasional drink. I show up for meals, but can otherwise come and go at my leisure, exiting, sometimes, as someone is in the middle of a sentence. My father has done this all his life. You'll be talking to him and he'll walk away - not angry, but just sort of finished with you. I was probably six years old the first time I noticed this. You'd think I'd have found it hurtful, but instead I looked at his retreating back thinking, We can get away with that? Really? Yippee!


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