Entertaining Leisure

Top Tips for Easy Entertaining

We really enjoy getting together frequently with friends, and while I know that having people in your home can be daunting, the benefits make it worth it.  I’m going to share tips that not only work for me, but obviously for many of my friends who are welcoming and wonderful hosts with minimal effort.

Our family and many of our close friends do not live in Arizona, so we’re always happy to host gatherings here and have the guest room at the ready.  I want that experience to be as stress-free and as enjoyable as possible as well. More on overnight guests on another post.

I’m no Martha Stewart, so you won’t be getting any expert opinions here, but I think entertaining is important.  As you get older and don’t spend as much time with work colleagues or with childrens’ activities, it’s really important to build a social network.  In fact, there is a Harvard study ongoing for 80 years (!) proving the correlation between community and happiness and good health.  I just love Harvard studies and this one has been going since the Great Depression.  One of the lessons we learned when we relocated to Arizona was the importance of moving to a very active community where we could make friends quickly.

Red Wine, White Wine, Sparkling Water, Nuts & Holiday M&Ms

So we agree that our social lives are very important as we age, let’s open ourselves up to entertaining with ease.  I’m not going to lie, having a party, even a small one, can be a lot of work and a lot of expense.  I no longer have the energy to do a lot of that kind of entertaining, but we do a lot on a smaller scale and even spontaneously.  That’s the kind of entertaining I’m focusing on here.  Not every gathering has to look like Pinterest – it can be so simple and yet successful.

What is your top reason for not entertaining? For many folks, getting the house company-ready is the first barrier to inviting friends to their homes.  I’m naturally a tidy person, and I’ll admit that I have my house cleaned every other week (which makes my b-i-l doubt my knowledge on housekeeping), but I can be comfortable opening my doors with just five minutes’ warning and here are some ways how. 

Removing Barrier One: A Tidy Home

Pretty Baskets

I have a pretty basket on my coffee table where I can stow reading material, remotes, coasters, just the usual clutter from using a room.   I have a pretty basket in my family room where magazines and flyers go.  I have pretty baskets and organizers in my bedroom for my electronics, glasses, etc.  You get the picture.

Early Morning Chores

Every. Single. Morning. I get up and do light housecleaning.  I tie in those chores with scooping poo out of the cat boxes and feeding the little darlings.  I fluff and puff the living room and family room, straightening pillows and throw blankets.  I clear any leftover glasses or dishes from the evening before.  While my tea is brewing I put away any dishes that dried overnight or unload the dishwasher.  I give the countertops a good wipe down.  I start the robot vacuum and let her do her thing.  It’s amazing what she gets up considering I run her every day in addition to regular vacuuming.  If the weather is cooperating, I open up doors and windows to let things air out a bit.

I also have an attitude that if someone is looking at my dust, they might not be my true friend.  Ha!  We live in a dry climate and dust accumulates daily – as does cat hair in my house.  Some areas are never going to be perfectly clean for long and I’m ok with it.

Because I know some people are allergic to cats, I always let them know before their first visit so they can take their medication. If possible, I schedule those friends for patio time and I vacuum the furniture last thing before they arrive.

Kinsey and Mandy

The Bathrooms

Clorox wipes to the rescue!  Before company comes, I give the toilets a quick swish with cleaner and a brush and then wipe all the surfaces with Clorox wipes.  That is one area I don’t want my friends to spot a problem.

Front Entry

Like many people, we come and go through the garage and don’t use our front porch regularly.  It’s easy to be completely unaware that a windstorm came up overnight and blew all the neighbor’s leaves onto our porch or that a gigantic spider made a nice web over the screen door.  I run the vacuum over the area if it needs it and give the area a little wipe down.

Now, in my opinion, the house is ready for guests.

Still not comfortable with people in your house? The A/C or plumbing is out? Remodel going on? Here’s another idea – plan a get-together somewhere outside your house.  How about a mountain picnic or lunch in the park or evening at the hot tub?  You might want to know your destination to make sure there are the proper facilities, but it’s easy to enjoy destinations with friends as well. Put some ice in the cooler, load up some French bread, cheese, meat and fruit and head out.

Removing Barrier Two: Access to Easy Food and Drink

Now, again, I’m not a fussy cook and I almost never bake, nor do I keep baked goods in the house.  But there are a few things I keep on hand for last-minute guests, or for that matter, planned guests.  And, here’s the trick.  Many foods do very well in the freezer and will be fresh when you’re ready to serve them.  

Nuts.  I keep packages of different nuts in the freezer.  When I want to add to a salad for my lunch or set out a bowl for snacking, I just take them out.  Serving as is works just fine, or 30 – 60 seconds in the microwave makes them warm and even more delish. 

Chips, Crackers and Pretzels.  These bagged snacks freeze extremely well and are not so easy to access when tucked into the freezer. When company arrives, take a bag out of the freezer and just serve.  They taste perfectly fresh and aren’t frozen or even really cold for long. 

Fancy cookies.  I’m pretty careful with this one because I can eat a bag in a sitting, but I like to keep a small bag of Mint Milanos or Belgian wafers in the freezer.  They seem simple but fancy and it’s nice to have something sweet. I’m also known to purchase M&Ms in bulk and if I can keep my hand out of the bowl, they make a fun snack.

Crudites. We almost always have fresh cut veggies living in a divided container in the fridge.  They are a fantastic snack for us and make for a fast and easy veggie tray when entertaining.

Fresh Cut Veggies in their Divided Container

It has been my experience that friends being together has more to do with fellowship and less to do with gourmet treatment.  So, if popping a bowl of corn is all you can do, do it!  No need for complicated and fancy – enjoy your time together.

Remove Barrier Three: Worry about Using Good Serveware, Drinkware, Linens

Over the years I have bought pretties at garage sales and I use them for serving.  I buy boxes of wine glasses at Costco.  The point is that I have pretty things, but I don’t spend a lot of money on them and if someone breaks something, I’m not upset about it.  At the end of the visit, everything can go in the dishwasher because it’s not so precious it has to be hand washed.  One year I asked my sister to make cocktail napkins from cute fabric she had.  I now always have cocktail napkins on hand and never have to purchase.  I cannot tell you how many compliments I’ve had on them and they were so simple to make.

Use your beautiful stuff.  I have so many adorbs appetizer dishes given as gifts over the years.  You bet when someone comes over, I use those and not the Corelle.  I have a stunning cheese board and when I put a few simple items on it, I always get tons of compliments and it looks so fancy. Here’s a picture of it being used as a taco bar.

Cheese Board

And, if you have cute aprons, be sure to don one.  It’ll keep your outfit clean and makes you feel good.

Remove Barrier Four: Needing Extra Supplies, Decor, Cookware

If you need something extra and something you won’t use regularly, borrow it.  A friend of mine borrowed my crockpots recently.   Another friend has high tables which work great for large crowds outdoors and we have borrowed them. Another friend loaned me these expensive pumpkins for a party centerpiece. It makes everyone feel good to know they are getting extra use and extra joy from their things.

Pumpkins on Loan

Remove Barrier Five: Complicated and/or Expensive Recipes

We try to keep the menu pretty simple, especially for last-minute plans.  It seems like everyone has dietary restrictions and it’s best to let them work out those issues for themselves. We might stop for a rotisserie chicken and a bagged salad if there isn’t anything easy to throw on the grill or heat in the oven.  We often have each household contribute what they have on hand and we always come up with a well-balanced meal and not so much work for any one person.  When your friends offer to bring something, let them.  I’ve found that whatever they are offering to bring is probably something they are really good at and might actually enjoy.

Let everyone participate in meal prep and clean up.  Our kitchen isn’t very bit, but for some projects, like homemade pizza, the more the merrier.

Remove Barrier Six: I have Nothing to Wear

I find that most of my friends look adorable and will wear a dress or beautiful outfit when visiting friends, even casually.  So, if I want to wear sweats, I make sure that is clear that we won’t be dressing up and please feel free to come in sweats or even jammies.

Adding to the Fun


I absolutely love to DJ when I’m relaxed with a full tummy and a couple of glasses of wine.  It’s so fun to make a playlist and have it ready.  Otherwise, I scramble around a bit on YouTube and find some oldies everyone can appreciate and maybe play a bit of “Name that Tune.” With streaming devices and excellent Bluetooth spreakers, there is no need for a CD library or whole-house stereo wiring.

Streaming Music and Bluetooth Bose Speaker for Perfect Background Music

Movies or Games

We have a few card games we like to play and know the rules to so we’re not trying to figure them out on the fly.  We also play dominos or board games with our friends.  We check out DVDs from the library and if we have a new release nobody has seen we’ll put that on.  It’s important that everyone knows what’s on the agenda, or after visiting, appetizers and dinner, there won’t be enough time to play or watch.

Mi Casa es Su Casa or “Let it Go!”

I typically will get everyone their first drink, but after that I let them know they are responsible for refilling their own glasses.  I also keep a pitcher of water and water glasses handy so guests can moderate their alcohol intake.  Next, all that’s left is to relax and enjoy.

This has been such a long post, I’ll update later this week on what I’m reading, what I’m eating, and what I’m doing.

California’s Problems

We have many loved ones in California who are affected by fires, evacuations, power outages and high winds.  If you are a praying person, please remember anyone going through it, along with emergency personnel, animals and homes when you whisper in God’s ear.

Many blessings this week.

2 Comment

  1. You’re a wonderful host, and it’s nice of you to share your strategies. One huge barrier for me is my stinking stainless steel kitchen. I just leaned the squeegee makes quick work of smudges.

    BTW, those cats look a little skinny.

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