Hosting Friends in Your Home – Tips and Tricks

Hosting Friends in Your Home – Tips and Tricks

I genuinely enjoy hosting in my house.  It provides frugal entertainment for everyone.  I often hear people say they can’t host because they need more space, their place is messy, or they feel the need to go all out for a meal and it’s just too much work.  However, it can be a lot more fun and a lot less work than you realize.  I really enjoy cooking dinner and pairing it with a board game as a way to break up the week, and we’ve frequently hosted weekend gatherings as well.

The Basics

  • Don’t try to fit more people in your home than is reasonable.
  • If there are kids/pets coming, consider a designated area for them.
  • Put on background music (I’m partial to Pandora)

Making More Space

  • Do you have access to more space that you didn’t even realize, like an apartment common area?
  • Look for expandable dining tables
  • Look for folding chairs or stools that can be tucked out of the way when not in use.
  • Be creative and flexible with your space. You can set up snacks or drinks on the dining table and move the dining chairs to the living room around the coffee table/couch for more seating.  If you are in a dorm, you can set up snacks on your desk and give people pillows to sit on the floor.  You should always make room for the important things in life.

Last Minute Cleaning Tips

  • Make sure any glassware is clean (and dust-free if you haven’t used it in a while) and quickly rinse or wash if needed. That is the one thing anyone who cares about you actually cares about.
  • For the bathroom: Clean the mirror well – it instantly makes the bathroom look cleaner. Set out a new hand towel.  Clean the toilet and the sink.  Close the shower curtain.  Done!
  • Close doors to any rooms you don’t want guests seeing/entering.
  • Use a laundry basket to walk around and pick up anything out of place or that you don’t want guests to see. You can put the laundry basket in a closet or a room behind a closed door until after your guests leave.
  • Make a quick pass with a Swiffer duster wand.
  • Wipe down the surfaces you will be using (if needed).
  • Run a vacuum over the area quickly. A good vacuum sucks everything up really fast and leaves the floors free of hair, dust and dander.  Spot clean any spills if needed.
  • If guests can see the kitchen, wash any dishes or put them in the dishwasher and wipe down the counters. If you are really in a crunch, you can also hide dishes in the oven as long as you aren’t cooking with it.  Just remember to take them out before you turn the oven on again.

Easy and painless and only 15 to 20 minutes.  Even easier if you have help! Don’t be afraid to ask for an assist.  Figure out what your comfort level is and how much time you want to make, but remember guests are coming to see YOU.  If they really care about how clean your house is, it might be time to find some new friends.

Food Ideas

  • It’s ok to ask others to bring beverages. It saves you money and guarantees they will have something they like.
  • You at least want to have snacks. Popcorn, pretzels or chips are cheap and easy.  You can ask others to bring snacks or desserts as well.
  • If you are only doing snacks or appetizers, aim for afternoon (1-4pm) or later evening (7pm on) gatherings depending on your and your guests’ normal meal times. Make sure you let your guests know to eat beforehand.
  • You can try a meal potluck where each person brings a side. I’d recommend this for a weekend if everyone works.  I’m not partial to this, just because I feel like it’s hard enough to coordinate an evening after work without guests being delayed due to their own food prep.

When Cooking a Meal

  • Do as much prep beforehand as possible. Choose meals that are easy.  I recommend using recipes you know.  I’m partial to whatever frozen meals are on sale at the grocery store.
  • Know your cooking times, and know your guests. For weeknights, if your guests are always promptly on time, you can plan to eat 15 minutes to a half hour after arrival and plan your cooking based on that (worst case, someone is late and you use a microwave).  If some of your guests are often late, consider a cold dish, a dish with a shorter cook time that you can start to cook when they arrive, or consider using a slow cooker.  You don’t need snacks before a meal if you’re planning to eat shortly after everyone arrives.
  • I prefer “family style” dining. I like to pass around a salad bowl first while the food is finishing and then I put all the food out directly on the table (or if space is limited, pass it around and then bring it back whatever is left back to the kitchen counter in case someone wants a second serving).  My guests use their dinner plates for both the salad and the meal.  Horrifying, I know, but they’re coming to see me.  We all know it’s not for my cooking.
  • If your cooking goes downhill fast, just laugh it off and throw in a frozen pizza.

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