Not to Impress, But to Bless
Entertaining overnight guests is not something that I have done a lot. A couple of times we hosted members of a traveling choir. My sister and her family lived in a different state for several years, and they stayed with us when they came home for a visit. And I have told you that my son Ryan and his family have lived in three different states in the past five years. So our experience in hosting overnight visitors is limited and I can probably sum up everything that I know about this topic in one post.
Plan and cook ahead.
When having overnight guests for a period of days, I find it helpful to have a meal plan and work ahead. I don't want to spend all of my time in the kitchen, so planning meals ahead is a necessity if I am going to have the time I need for Scrabble games and catch-up chats and sipping coffee and holding grandbabies!
I make a rough plan for the number of dinners I'll need, and do anything that I can do in advance.
Then the girls and I will have a big cooking/baking day and we'll make casseroles and side dishes and bake bread and muffins and a dessert or two.
The day that the guests are arriving, I can spend a little more time in the kitchen, so that meal may require more cooking and preparation time. The bonus is that it keeps me busy as I anxiously wait for the travelers to arrive.
I cook breakfast most mornings, although we do rely on the made-ahead coffee cakes and muffins and cold cereal sometimes. I usually cook a hearty breakfast on the morning that they leave, so that they can travel longer before needing to stop.
The plan is flexible, of course, and we're more than ready to change things up, or not use some items at all. But dinner at the ready is like money in the bank when you want to enjoy your visitors!
Plan for some pampering.
Kati offers her room for a mini suite. It is our largest bedroom, and it has a double bed, a cozy chair and a window seat, and the most floor space.
When I change the bed linens, I mist them with linen spray. We lay lots of big cozy comfy blankets down for kid beds.
We hang a multi-hook on the laundry room door for towels, and stock up on toiletries and lotions.
Provide a snack basket.
What about after dinner or late night munchies? I don't want to plan too many goodies, and I certainly don't want my visitors to be too shy to ask. So the past few times that we have had overnight guests, I have filled a snack basket. In the weeks before the visit, I pick up snacky things (cookies, crackers, nuts, granola bars) and put them in. Each night, we bring out the basket and set it in the living room for anyone to take or leave.
Since I have shared a recipe each Saturday during the month of October, I am going to share one of my make-ahead main dishes.
~ I use my own homemade spaghetti sauce which has meat, so I omit both the ground beef and the oregano in this recipe.
~ If you're going to make this ahead, assemble (except for the remaining 3/4 cup of mozzarella) but don't bake. Thaw in refrigerator 24 hours before you will serve it; bake as directed.
What are your tips for hosting overnight guests?