Holiday Hospitality

Hospitality Tips

If you are hosting guests for the holidays, I have a few ideas for showing them hospitality. When guests- especially overnight guests- are in your home, they want to feel welcome. They were invited, but do they feel like you really want them there? If the answer is no, you aren’t doing your job as host. And they’ll probably never tell you, so I am sharing my ideas for making guests feel welcome at the holidays.

For daytime only guests:

  1. Greeting: Take a few moments to actually greet your guests at the door. I know you are undoubtedly busy in the kitchen making dinner preparations, but you can take 30 seconds here and a minute there to say hello to the loved ones you’ve invited into your home. Smile, hug and then get back to your prep work.
  2. Seating: If you are hosting people for a holiday meal or party, make sure everyone has a place to sit. Most likely, you have a guest list. If you have opened your party (or dinner) to guest + one, ask your invitees to let you know if they are bringing someone, so you can make sure there is a place set for them at the table. Or at the very least, they aren’t having to stand or sit on the floor.
  3. Help: If a guest asks if there is anything they can do, give them a task. For some people, feeling useful is all they need to feel welcome. For others, it may be a relief to be in the kitchen with you because they are uncomfortable being with people they don’t know that well.
  4. Clean the “public” areas of your home before guests come over. I’ve heard so many times “if these people are your real friends, they are there to see you and not worry about how clean your house is.” Sure this is true if they’ve popped over unannounced. If you’ve invited people to your home for a holiday party or holiday dinner and your house is a messy disaster, your guests may feel as though you weren’t really sincere in your offer to host.

For overnight guests:

All the above tips still apply to overnight guests, but I have a few to add.

  1. Clean and put together the guest bedrooms. Nothing says “I was hoping you wouldn’t show up” like an unprepared bedroom. Make sure there are clean sheets on the bed and the room is free from clutter and dust. If you have a separate heating/cooling system for the guest rooms, make sure it’s turned on.
  2. Stock the bathrooms. Your family and friends do not want to feel like they are packing for summer camp. Make sure the bathroom your guests will be using is fully stocked with toilet paper, hand soap, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, and plenty of clean towels. 
  3. Have options for entertainment, but be flexible. Having a deck of cards, a few board games, or a few puzzles on hand can make guests feel like you thought about them and what they might do during down time, but be flexible if they have other ideas or plans too.
  4. Have some snacks readily available. You’ve planned the meals, but have you thought about snacks? Make sure there are food items that are ready to eat and visible to your guests so they don’t feel awkward about asking for food between meals. It’s also a nice touch to have a little basket in your guest rooms that have some bottled water and some small snacks in case your guests get the munchies after everyone is in bed.
  5. If your guests are traveling with infants or toddlers, you might pick up some inexpensive sippy cups and toddler sized utensils so the parents don’t have to pack so much. You could also borrow a portable crib so the little one has a safe place to sleep. I’m certain someone you know has one they would be willing to loan. If not, you can probably find a used one at a garage sale or online market place for very cheap.

QuickTip Tuesday: Walk for Weight Loss

Walking is a great way to lose weight. It is the one exercise that is the easiest to stick with. You know what else? It’s free. You can do it indoors or outdoors. You can do it on your own schedule, at your own pace. And if you stick with a balanced diet that has the appropriate amount of calories for you while walking 30-60 minutes a day at a brisk pace, you could realistically lose 5-10 pounds by Christmas!

Walking indoors? If you have access to an indoor area to walk, that’s great. If you don’t, you could use these workout videos. They look like lots of fun!

Foodie Friday: November Menu

I am sitting here listening to my youngest daughter sing the same few lines of a song from The Greatest Showman and thinking about how much I am loving our mild fall temperatures. I love Fall and all the flavors that come with it. And no, I am not talking about pumpkin spice lattes. I do love pumpkin. But I also love apples and pears and butternut squash and sweet potatoes. My middle school English teachers would absolutely cringe reading that last sentence!

But my life isn’t always about having the perfect, seasonal dinner. Today I went home  at lunchtime to put my chicken, green beans and potatoes in the slow-cooker so that we would have dinner waiting for us after our marathon of after-school activities. My husband just called to inform me that I never plugged the thing in! So, dinner is effectively ruined. I am telling you this so you might be encouraged. Those of us who blog and “social media” all of our wonderful plans and dinnertime success stories, we have days where we fail too. Tonight will be a grocery store deli night even though I planned and shopped and prepped for a healthy, home-cooked meal. It happens to everyone.

So, here’s to a November with no dinner disasters! Find the recipes on my November Menu Pinterest Board.November 2018 Menu

November 2018 Menu

Christmas Gifts and Kids

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** My oldest riding the Polar Express, December 2014

 

Do you have children to buy for at Christmas? Think hard before you buy them another toy. Most kids in our society today have more toys than they can actually play with. Many of the toys my own children received at Christmas three years ago were broken by January. And guess what: They didn’t really even care.

What do kids really need at Christmas? They need experiences and time with the grown-ups in their lives. They need chances to be creative. They need space to be active outside. They need opportunities to learn a new skill in a fun way.

  • Here are my top ideas for non-toy Christmas presents for kids this year:
    Memberships. A season (or annual) membership to the zoo, children’s museum, or similar venue is a great gift for kids of all ages. And if you are not the parent, a good companion gift would be a “coupon” to take the kids to these places to give the parents a few hours to themselves.
  • Monthly subscriptions. Subscriptions to kid magazines or monthly activity boxes are a gift that renews itself over the year. There are so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming, but still an awesome gift for kids. There are subscriptions available for art kits/lessons, cooking boxes, science experiment boxes, book boxes…. the list goes on.
  • Movie passes.
  • Art supply kits.
  • Tickets to an event, such as a concert or ice skating show.
  • A day of fun- like taking them ice skating or snow tubing.
  • A calendar filled out with fun things you will do with the child.

And of course, kids might need other things like clothes, mittens, jackets and you might want to buy a toy. Just think very hard about the number of toys you are buying for a child and how well the toys will hold up to play, or how long they will actually hold the interest of a child. Many licensed character toys will be out of style shortly after the holiday season ends.

In short, give the children you love the gift of time with you. My own kids are getting a zoo membership (renewed from last year), and a subscription for a monthly cooking box. I know they’ll love it!

QuickTip Tuesday: Halloween Safety

Image result for american red cross first aid appWanna keep your kids as safe as possible this Halloween? There’s an app for that. There are several, actually. I’m just going to tell you about 2. The first is The American Red Cross First Aid App. This free app gives instructions and information on delivering first aid right on your phone. There are videos, interactive quizzes, and step-by-step advice. Halloween is a fun, but dangerous night for kids. There are costumes that include long hemlines, face-covering masks, and lots of walking in the street. Accidents are bound to happen. Be ready to react to them with this app.

The second app is Life360’s Family and Friend Locator. This is great for families with older kids who might want to go out trick-or-treating without mom and dad in tow.

Image result for life360 family locator

Parents can keep track of their kids using this app and let the kids have a little freedom on Halloween night. This only works if the parents and the kids have a device with the app installed.

When you fall off the horse… or the wagon

I started a new workout routine on October 1st. I have been really hit and miss with exercise as of late, but I was feeling extremely motivated. I decided I would try to do an actual schedule:

Mondays: run one mile, then 20-30 minutes of yoga
Tuesdays: run two miles
Wednesdays: run two miles
Thursdays: strength training
Fridays: rest
Saturdays: long run- building up from 2 miles because that’s all I could do that first week.

I did really well on week one. Did pretty good week 2, but then my daughters came down with a stomach bug and I missed the Saturday run. No big deal. Then I got the stomach bug and I missed the Monday workout and the Tuesday workout. Now it is Wednesday, what do I do?

I did the Wednesday workout. Here’s the thing: there’s no point in worrying now about what I didn’t do earlier in the week. Or last week. It was just as hard to get up and get outside this morning as it was on October 1st. It was like starting over. But sometimes that’s what you have to do. If you have a fitness goal and you get derailed by life, you get started again by simply starting again. Is it easy? No. Is it fun? No. But it’s worth it. Believe me. When I got back from my two mile run/walk this morning, I told my husband that every minute of it was awful. But once I was finished I felt good. Really good.

QuickTip Tuesday: After-school Snacks

I don’t know about your kids, but mine are always starving after school. I want them to have a quick snack that will help stave off hunger until dinnertime without filling them up too much. I also want this snack to be at least somewhat healthy. My older daughter has really taken a liking to those pre-made snack mixes you can find in the cheese aisle. Those are great! I feel good about her eating them. There’s cheese, a little chocolate, and nuts or tiny crackers and the portions are small. BUT they can be pricey.

With a little planning, we could fix up our own DIY version of this for less $$.