“You learn something new every day.” As much as we have entertained guests, I am always gaining new insight, adding "weapons" to my entertaining arsenal. We recently had eight overnight visitors in addition to our family of six. We do have dedicated guest spaces and four EZ beds which makes such a venture doable. But at times, we require one or two kids to give up their rooms. My first lessons come from this.
1. Give your child plenty of time to get his/her room in order. If it is still too cluttered, just grab a trash bag or box, fill it up, and stash it until the guests are gone. There’s no shame in that.
2. Buy a set of guest sheets. Maybe your mom was like mine with the guest towels and soaps. Now I know why these existed. She wanted something nice for the company without having to restock every time someone came to visit. The night before our company arrived, I discovered that the same is true for sheets. When I saw the condition of one of my kid’s linens, I was too embarrassed to let strangers sleep on them. So, with no time to order something online, I found myself shopping at the last minute for another set. My problem was that I needed XL twins. These are easy to come by in the fall when college students are preparing for dorm life. But in April it is like trying to find a snowball in the Bahamas. Fortunately, good old Walmart came through.
3. Ask for help. No one can do it ALL, especially when that includes parenting, working, volunteering, did I say parenting? So, if you need help, even if it’s for an hour, ask for it. The day everyone was arriving, I had an untimely parent/teacher conference. The hubs suggested that I call someone to do a little cleaning, so I did. On a day when every hour was precious, this was a huge help. Since it was for such a short time and limited scope of work, it was not expensive either. As an added bonus, my better half came home and pitched in. I couldn’t do this hospitality stuff without him, not sanely, anyway.
For this group of eight, we served dessert the night they came in and breakfast the next morning. Here are some things to consider.
4. Make something that will either hold or can be put together quickly if you do not know exactly when your guests will arrive. Don’t be afraid to mix homemade with store bought. It’s all about presentation. I made the balls of pound cake in a cake pop pan. I also dipped the strawberries myself in Ghirardelli melting chocolate, which is super easy but looks impressive. Everything else was purchased. Scooping ice cream ahead of time and refreezing it helped make serving quick once the company got settled.
5. Try to have the breakfast items prepped the day before. Multi-tasking is overrated, especially on a busy school morning if using an unfamiliar recipe. The morning in question I was distracted and did not mix the coffee cake in the right order resulting in lumpy batter, a rookie mistake. Fortunately, it was a forgiving recipe and worked well, despite me.
6. Have a go-to recipe, or better yet, menu. I did use one of my standard crust-less quiches but wanted to branch out with the coffee cake. I came across my friend, Amy’s recipe. It was more delicious than I had remembered and is going on my company rotation. She gave me permission to share it with you but wanted to be sure I gave props to her source, the Stoneridge Bed & Breakfast in Lexington, Virginia.
Raspberry Cheese Coffee Cake
Beat on medium until creamy:
8 oz. cream cheese
½ C butter
1 C sugar
¼ C milk
½ t vanilla
In a separate bowl combine:
1 ¾ C flour
½ t baking soda
1 t baking powder
¼ t salt
· Add flour mixture to cream cheese and beat on low until well-blended.
· Spread batter into greased baking 9x13 pan.
· Dollop with 1/2C raspberry preserves.
· Swirl with a knife.
· Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden.
· Cool slightly and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Tip: These cut better if cooled a bit.
So, there you have it, tips and a recipe to add to your entertaining arsenal. You got this!