Updated on May 8, 2013
My “grand plan” when preparing for people to come over is to get as much as I can done in the days before, so on the actual day all I have to do is tidy up a bit and fix the meal. I say my “grand plan” because it is sometimes too lofty a goal, but when it works, things go much smoother on the day we are having people over.
3 Things To Do Ahead Of Time
1. Clean The House
There is no need for perfection. I think it is a good practice to make our homes comfortably clean for guests. We should have it clean enough to where guests feel comfortable but not so perfect that they don’t feel welcomed to sit down and relax.
I actually feel encouraged when I go into a home that is not “perfect” because I tend to buy into the notion that everyone else has a perfectly clean house all the time but me. So it is a good reminder that there’s no such thing as a superwoman.
2. Grocery Shopping
It helps to have all of your grocery shopping and errands done in the days before hand. Nothing eats up time more than running errands. Once in awhile I will forget something on my shopping list and have to run to the store at the last minute to grab it, this always puts me behind, then I’m running around, franticly trying to finish things up. Double check the day before to make sure you have everything.
3. Yard Work
Picking things up in the yard, like toys or kitchen utensils (I assume everyone has those in their yard like we do :)) can be done ahead also.
4. Extra Touches
I don’t get to do this all the time, but I like to add extra special touches to make guests feel welcome when I can. Ideas might be: flowers for inside and out, candles, scented oils to burn, name place cards, bandaids.
Bandaids, you ask? Yes, there have been lots of times guests have needed a bandaid for one reason or another. With lots of little ones our family goes through bandaids quickly. Its happened on more than one occasion that a guest needed a bandaid and we were out, then I feel bad my guest is bleeding and I can’t help them. So now I try to always keep bandaids on hand.
One more thing that is helpful to do before your guests arrive, especially if you haven’t had people over a lot, is to think about how you are are going to serve the food and where everyone is going to sit.
Decide if it will work best to have everyone sit down at the table and serve the food from the table or do a buffet. It works well to serve the food at the table when all the guests can sit comfortably at the same table. Otherwise it is better to do a buffet and have everyone go through a line to get their food, then sit down to eat. When I do a buffet I usually serve the food on the kitchen counters or an extra table.
If you are doing a buffet, figure out ahead of time where you will have the food and drinks and be ready to give your guests instructions on how to go through the line. I have found it works well to have the plates and silverware first, then main dish, side dishes, salad and bread followed by the drinks. I usually put a stack of napkins at both ends of the table so extras are handy for people to grab.
The more you can prepare ahead of time, especially in the days before, the more enjoyable your experience in entertaining guests will be.
Join us tomorrow for part 4 in our series where I will share tips on preparing for hospitality with your children.
What do you like to have done before company comes over? I’d love to hear in the comments section.