It Feels Good to Plan for Guests after almost Two Years of Social Distancing
Getting a jumpstart on the holidays? It’s that time of year. I invite you to read “Best Artificial Christmas Trees You Can Buy Online This Holiday Season” in Better Homes & Gardens, where I share my own tips for selecting the right size and shape tree for your home. It’s never too early to plan for the festive season.
Before we jump full swing into Christmas, I must say I just love fall. First of all, I’m thrilled with the change in the weather. Although it can feel like summer at any time of year in Houston, the cooler days and nights are a treat. I also relish the time to plan for the holiday season. I know we are all looking forward to more together time this year after having to curtail many plans over the last year.
I generally like a traditional meal but I enjoy adding a few twists. I’ve done apple-based cocktails, chocolate pecan pie, a pumpkin ice cream, interesting blends of mashed potatoes and various turkey prep. I always experiment with stuffing. I just love it! It’s fun to use different ingredients — from East Coast favorites like chestnuts or oysters to Southern specialties such as pecans and sausage and even chilies or apples from the West and Northwest.
This year my mother said she wants to host. Last year, we were at our house so we will make the short trip to Austin. I think she will order in at least some of the meal to make things a little easier, especially with us traveling. However, I am always in charge of the wine and I like to make pies so I’ll bring at least two. It’s not Thanksgiving without pumpkin and pecan! I like to add a little Bourbon to my pecan pie. As I mentioned, sometimes I make it with a chocolate base too. Jon loves that. My husband is really a chocoholic! I go pretty standard on the pumpkin pie, using the recipe on the can. However, I always make freshly whipped cream. I recently made a dessert that called for maple whipped cream. We all really enjoyed the touch of maple flavor rather than sugar and vanilla in the topping.
My mother has a large dining table that she loves to set with her grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s china but if we have a bit of a crowd, we’ll eat outside under the oak trees on her picnic table, if possible. In 2020, we enjoyed two holiday meals al fresco – Thanksgiving and Christmas! The weather was ideal for both of them so fingers crossed!
I’m dying to try this recipe I just saw in Better Homes & Gardens. It’s a pull apart version of stuffing and rolls. Sounds perfect for a Thanksgiving picnic!
We will stay at a hotel for the holiday but I expect we’ll have some visitors at Christmas. I assume I’m not the only one who hasn’t used their guest rooms much lately? Even if you have frequent visitors, it’s always a good idea to check the guest room before visitors arrive. I encourage you to read our “Designing a Welcoming Guest Room” blog post, too.
If your guestrooms have been empty like mine have, be sure to freshen them up. Open windows, turn on fans and air them out. Wash and replace linens and towels . Even if they were clean, they get stale if they sit too long.
While you are working on the bed, fluff the decorative pillows and then check the sleeping pillows. Do they smell fresh or stale? Are they lumpy or fluffy? I see some pretty sad bed pillows in my rounds so if they can’t be refreshed with a wash and a tumble in the dryer, maybe it’s time to replace them.
Speaking of decorative pillows, the trend these days is to have a long body pillow or elongated lumbar across the front of your bed. If you haven’t bought one yet, maybe now is the time to add a fresh pattern or color to your guest bed.
Since it is cooler at night, it’s always nice to leave a freshly washed robe in the closet. And, please be sure you leave some space in the closet for your guest to hang at least a few items. Move your items out if it’s super-crowded or organize the closet so there is a little space for your guests. They don’t want to feel like you don’t have room for them.
Another nice touch is a fluffy throw for the foot of the bed. If your guest gets cool, he/she can use it at night or cuddle up with it during the day if there is a chill.
Add a scented candle or spray with a room scent for a special touch the day before. I like to leave a glass and a carafe, a bottle of water and a small basket of snacks with a few napkins. With travel schedules and dietary needs, it’s nice for your guest to be able to have a nibble outside of mealtimes if desired.
My mother-in-law in the Seattle area always leaves the latest regional magazines. It’s fun to see what’s going on in the area and you can use them as a guide for outings and dining choices.
In the bathrooms, even if they sit unused, wipe down the surfaces and spray a little disinfectant around the area. Replace old toiletries too. These things do expire! Be sure items are full enough for use. I hate when there are only two drops of shampoo and a third of a roll of toilet tissue. Be extravagant and add a new roll and a fresh container of soap and shampoo. You can also use those little travel sizes that you pick up from hotels. Just don’t forget: if they are old, they can separate and get pretty icky. I found some in a drawer I had for YEARS! I emptied them all and recycled the containers.
Better yet is to buy pretty refillable containers. I use Puracy, a natural hand soap from Austin, that I buy in a pouch (shown above) and then use it to refill all of my hand soaps around the house.
Just thinking about Thanksgiving plans and holiday guests inspires me. Until next time, find your own inspiration or call us and we’ll help you discover it.