Last minute visitors used to really stress me out. I wasn’t ready! We didn’t have wine! The bathroom wasn’t clean! But after more than a few folks decided to “just stop by”, I’ve become better at learning how to go with the flow and pull off a last-minute entertaining session with ease.
Say Hello and Offer Them a Drink
Somewhere out there the French Emily Post is beaming with pride because I’m about to share this piece of advice: Always offer your guest a drink within moments of entering your house. Seriously, say bonjour, give them the double cheek kiss, and ask them if they want something to drink. This is not only good French manners, but is also good for your guest. They are either parched after a long trip or ready to relax and enjoy a good chat with you over a drink.
In most cases, a glass of water will do. Depending on the time of day, coffee or tea could be appropriate. Since most of my friends like to get a little pompette like me, I almost always throw in a choice of beer or wine in my list of drinks available. Which brings me to my next point…
Stock Up and Be Prepared
Just like a good girl scout, a hostess with the mostest is to always prepared. This means keeping your pantry stocked with items that you can grab and go.
Food-wise that means a selection of nuts (cashews and pistachios are favorites in our petite maison), dried fruit, and little snacks like potato chips or crackers. For the drinks, it’s simply coffee, tea (both caffeinated and herbal), water, wine, and beer. Our wine cellar, aka cabinet in the dining room, is always fully stocked thanks to regularly trips to Trader Joe’s.
In the event that we run out of something, the monsieur and I spring into action. I distract our guests with some gabbing while he runs off to the convenience store to pick up a bottle of Coca Cola or a six-pack of beers. Since this entire whole process only takes about ten minutes, his absence is barely missed and the party goes on without a hitch.
The Magic of Little Bowls
Now that you’ve got the pantry stocked and are party ready, my last tidbit of advice is to buy some tiny, little bowls. These come in all types of styles and are super affordable. Personally, I love these modern snack bowls from CB2 and the colorful, patterned ones at West Elm. I’ve also seen cute ones at Target, Crate and Barrel, Pier 1 Imports, Cost Plus World Market…everywhere really!
What’s so magical about these bowls anyway? Well, when someone stops by unannounced, all you have to do is hand them a drink, set out the snacks in the tiny bowls, and BOOM. All of a sudden, your tabletop is looking might coordinated and très sophistiqué. It’s almost as if you planned it!