Unexpected guests. We’ve all had them. And I don’t know about you, but it always seems that they show up on the days when my fridge echos when I open it. So what do you do when you are faced with a 15 minute window of prep time before someone gets there? Or even worse, the unexpected ringing doorbell! Follow these fool proof steps to being prepared for company at any moment:
If you have a few minutes of advanced notice:
- Put on a bra – Whether you’ve been working from home all day or just came in from the office and ripped it off as soon as you hit the bedroom. Find one and put it on. This is very important, especially if you are a Curvy Cook. Trust me.
- Own a Swiffer – I don’t care if you have a $900 vacuum, own a Swiffer. It takes half the time to give the floors a swipe with that genius little contraption. When you are pressed for time, you don’t need to be doing a deep clean, you just want to pick up the clumps of pet hair that have been sticking to your socks for the past 2 weeks.
- Clorox Wipes – One swipe with these beauties and you have a cleaned bathroom counter and toilet in 2 minutes flat. They also work great on kitchen counters.
- Closets are your friend – Get a bag, throw all the clutter you have around in it, open the closet door, drop the bag, close the door. End of story.
- Ovens are the closets of the kitchen – Dirty dishes, pans on the stove from last night, kids sippy cups crusted with old juice, pile them up, open oven, put them in, close oven. End of story.
If you have no notice at all and the doorbell is ringing:
- Put on a bra – Same rules as above apply, I don’t care that it means they will wait at the door for a minute. Get those girls contained.
- Be welcoming – Even though drop-in guests can be unexpected and sometimes a little annoying, always be a courteous host. Invite them in, ensure them they are not intruding, and offer to sit for a while. You may not feel like it, but your friend or family stopped by most likely because they were in your area and thinking of you. No matter how you cut it, it’s always sweet to be thought of and wanted to be seen. So be nice to them and get over yourself.
- Don’t apologize – Most likely, your pop up guests know that they are dropping in on you and that your home is not in “I’m having a party so my house is spotless” mode. You live there every day and we are all busy. Dishes in the sink, some pet hair, and a full garbage can are probably the exact same things they just left at their own homes too. Don’t apologize a million times for not knowing that you had to pick up and just focus on finding a place for them to sit on the couch next to the pile of clothes you were folding.
Now, as you know, my mother has the magic kitchen where anything you might want for a snack, or a drink, or a meal just kind of appears. However, right now in my own fridge I have 2 containers of unrecognizable leftovers from some day a week or more ago, half a cup of sour cream, enough milk for tea tomorrow morning and half a loaf of wheat bread. That doesn’t bode well for a great meal. So when you realize that this sentence has to come out of your mouth, relax and look to the pantry…
“Oh, you’re hungry? Hold on, let me just whip up something to eat.”
- Keep crackers and cheese handy – Crackers are on sale at the store almost every day. Stock up on a few boxes so that when people stop in, you have a little nosh. Same for blocks of cheese. They last for months if they are unopened, so keep a block in the fridge and you are ready just in case. Even if you don’t have anything fancy, offer a package of fruit snacks or a handful of goldfish crackers. The kids won’t miss them.
- Always, always, always have pasta and a jar of sauce – I don’t care how bare my pantry gets, I always at any time have about 5 kinds of pasta and a few jarred pasta sauces in there. No matter what. Now, is it even better if it’s your own canned sauce? Absolutely. But a good jar of premade sauce can be doctored and added to in a pinch and you just fed your hungry friends, who now think you are Superwoman. The Barefoot Contessa doesn’t need to know that Classico made the sauce and not you.
- Frozen veggies save meals – Keep your freezer stocked with a few bags of diced onions, spinach, broccolli, and brussel sprouts and you will have the makings of a quick meal in no time. Sautee them up in a pan with some olive oil and spices and throw them over the pasta for a quick primavera.
- Own a water filter system – I don’t care if it’s a Brita, Pur, or just filtered water in the door of your fridge. Don’t give tap water, it’s just not cool.
- Keep tea and coffee in your pantry – Even if you don’t drink it, throw a few tea bags or a small bag of ground coffee in your pantry. Put them in a ziploc if you don’t use them often. Even if people decline your offer to make some, you will be able to give them the choice and they will appreciate it, even if they don’t take you up on it.
In the end remember that it doesn’t matter what your house looks like or what the food was that you ate. It matters how you have made people feel in your home. Even if you didn’t expect them that time, you want them to WANT to come back when you invite them the next time. Smile, chat, have some tea, and say good night. Then silently curse them for interfering with your all night pinterest marathon after they have happily gone home with a smile on their faces and a belly full of food.