Hospitality

November Tenth Two Thousand Fifteen {Hospitality}

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Fellowship is a word that describes an act that human kind has engaged in for centuries. Gathering together, breaking bread, sharing company and enjoying social construct is all something that we as social creatures seem to crave doing. As stated in my last post, I feel it is your (And my own) duty to be as hospitable as possible in all circumstances. As a Christian it is my duty, as well as for those of you who wish to follow a more mid century traditionalist lifestyle. This is a key factor. It makes sense that if you enjoy getting together to share time with friends and family, that you would likely host an event or get together at some point, and hopefully enjoy doing so.

Please remember that God wants us to do all things with a joyful heart. When Jesus was hospitable enough to make countless miracles happen, He did not sigh, or roll His eyes. He did it with joy because He loves us. God wishes the same for us.

My eyes opened a bit to this very subject last Friday when I invited a good friend of mine and her boyfriend over for dinner. Less traditional than I, she had made the comment that she could honestly say she had never been to a dinner at someone’s house before except for family around the holidays. She was very happy and had an amazing air of hospitality about her even though she was attending supper at my home. She offered to help with dishes, and although she was a picky eater, complimented my food greatly. Her boyfriend also came prepared. Being allergic to cats (And we have many…) did not decline and he made sure to bring his army of Benadryl and tissues along. Despite being groggy, he enjoyed his time with us. Everything went smoothly. We enjoyed time fellow-shipping, laughing and talking. All in the comfort of our home and not having to spend money at a restaurant.

So, if you want to open your home and attempt a hospitable get together, perhaps a cocktail party or dinner party: here are a few tips for success that I hope will help you. I’ll run through them in order in hopes this may make the most sense to you all.

{Hosting a Get Together}

I want to start at the very basics. I believe it is important to decide exactly what you are hoping to do with your event. The entire situation from how you prepare to how you invite your guests will depend on this single factor. Now, I cannot cover all types of events, so I am going to go with an informal, and formal event in hopes to give you a decently rounded idea that you may form your own method upon. Once you decide exactly what type of event you wish to throw, You can start the planning process!

{Invitation}

 I am a sucker for hand written and mailed invitations. And I firmly believe it is proper to send out such invitations for formal or exquisite events. Hosting a special event should appear formal in all aspects and sending a text message, Facebook or e-mail message just doesn’t seem to come across as though you should dress to the nines and head over for a night of fine cocktails and educated conversation. When hosting a formal event, try your best to send out hard copy invitations with a bit of class and sophistication. Spell out every word and please do not abbreviate. We have intelligence and I think that it’s important we use such from time to time if not always. Your guests are going to form an opinion at the very mention of your event, so it’s best to start off strong.

In the situation of a less formal, short notice gathering, a phone call should be provided before that of a text message or internet correspondence. We have lost touch with voice in this generation and I feel sad to imagine how great an invention the telephone was and how we ignore it. We should continue to embrace the telephone and what it has done to bring the world together.

In your invitation, you will want to state the specifics. Please do not assume your guest will bring anything unless they ask, or it has been specifically stated that it is a pot luck. I find that pot luck’s are only best when in large groups of 10 or more people. If you are inviting a small group of 10 or less over for a dinner party, it is good etiquette to assume you will be providing the whole meal. I don’t mean to sound crude, but if you lack in finances, you shouldn’t be hosting elite expensive parties anyways. Never approach your guests about bringing an item unless they offer. And even then I would hesitate unless you are very close. That being said, it is also alright to hint at a dress code. The words “Black Tie Event” or “Business Casual Supper” are great ways to hint at a dress code without sounding too bossy. And remember, not everyone understands the ways of olde. Some people will not pick up on these hints, and that is okay. You can’t be held responsible for the way other’s present themselves. After you have decided on the type of event you wish to host, have your invitations sent out with plenty of time for people to plan. You do not want to be the cause of stress for last minute schedule conflicts. Some people like myself feel very guilty if told last minute about a party. We really do want to come!

{The Hostess’ Outfit}

I believe that what we as hostesses wear is very important, and I always start planning this second because it is a way of taking care of myself to ensure I am equipped to care for others. If you are having a large formal event, It is always habit to dress absolutely perfect. I am guilty of this. But what will you do when you spill a pudding trifle down the front of your silk evening dress? Opt for a beautiful yet trustworthy outfit so that during all your serving, drink mixing and cleaning up after others; there’s no room to be upset over a ripped seam.

And Ladies, I stress this always, please wear an apron. But never while you are eating.

If you are hosting a less formal event, such as back yard bar-b-ques or a sports related get together. Slacks are acceptable if that makes you comfortable. If you want to wear a dress, I suggest something made of easily washed fabric.

For both types of events, if possible, wear your hair up. You will thank me later. Same goes for any dangling jewelry. Save this for attending events. Again, you will mutter to yourself that I was right if you ignore my advice. I have lost an earring in cake frosting before when it got tangled in my hair.

{Menu}

Here is where the entirety of hosting gets tricky. Being 90% Vegan, I have a hard time attending certain functions knowing that I have some dietary restrictions. Most know me well enough and have been gracious to provide alternatives to courses and meals I won’t consume. For this I am thankful. It is your duty as a Hostess to provide an out for the situation that may arise of a guest having a food allergy or intolerance. Most of us know our guest list pretty well. So it is easy to plan around that of your close friends. But what if someone you invited has a dietary restriction you do not know about? With a little bit of reading, you can learn a lot of ways to cater around those with allergies or dislikes.  My husband has a childhood friend who has Celiac’s Disease. This means that he cannot consume any form of wheat or gluten. I make sure to always stock a hard cider or two for him if he attends an event (Beer has gluten), and to properly set aside food for him so that it doesn’t come in contact with gluten of any form. My extra time put into making sure he does not die (And yes it is that serious.) Has been met with utmost thanks that I find him and his wife remembering my odd little dietary requests. Funny how that works? Simply put, if you have an inkling that someone may have an allergy or intolerance, ask them separately and in private before planning your meal.

Your meal should involve multiple courses if you consider it a formal event. And no finger food save for hors d’oeuvres.  A less than formal even may have one course, or be a pot luck and have finger foods. For the latter, you need not worry as much about table setting. For the formal event, You will want to set your table. I will cover this in another section.

The only things that are acceptable to get a head start on for any dinner party i.e. baking the day before are your desserts. Pies, cakes and confections in most cases keep well and some even need a day to set and firm. So please take this into consideration when planning your dessert and see if planning ahead will save you plenty of time the day of.

{Preparing Your Home}

 I am going to cross reference an earlier post when it comes to cleanliness. I did speak on this topic in one of my very first discussions on this blog. As I said it is acceptable to miss some details when entertaining unexpectedly-BUT I find it in poor report to host any formal get together, or planned get together in a dirty, unkempt environment. This being said, if you have planned an event, do clean your home. Be sure that all things are provided, that any clutter is dealt with and the environment is free of anything that may cause issues for your guests. My home is full of allergens. With cats, dogs, antiques and a parrot, I notice those prone to allergies a little stuffy even when my house is immaculate. Or what I assume is as immaculate as it will ever be. I know some women chasing the tunnel dream of domestication work outside the home. And therefore when preparing to entertain they may only have one evening to prepare. And for this, give yourself grace. You have another job, for us housewives, this is our job and so naturally we should make it our duty to excel.

Sometimes even for us housewives, things happen and get forgotten. You will find all the little shortcuts to rescue you someday. But for now, if I have to say anything, my opinion relies on the fact that if I have to choose mopping the floor or a home made pie. You bet I will skip mopping and make that pie. I will still broom and spot clean as quickly as possible. All women will learn what their priorities are.

I enjoy concentrating on the things that I feel matter most to women. There is an exception to every rule, but as it seems, Women are the more easily put off by certain things. Speaking from experience, poorly kept restrooms are a large issue for me. So when I go to an event or party, a well kept bathroom is very key for my comfort. A few things I notice are:

What soap is set out for use of washing my hands? I do not enjoy using the same bar soap others have used and so I make sure I always have liquid dispensed hand soap for my guests.

Having a mechanic as a husband, our hand towels have stains. I have a special hand towel for guests. This saves them from finding axle grease under their fingernails unexpectedly.

Hair of any kind collected in the nooks and crannies of toilets and sink fixtures usually is a huge issue for me. And I have pets so I make sure everything is hair or fur free.

Most importantly, do you have a plunger in sight or easily accessible? Everyone plugs a toilet now and then, and sometimes it’s best for our pride to take care of it ourselves. Leave one out, tucked behind the toilet or maybe in an easy to find cabinet. This will save your guests any shame of having to admit and ask for help.

{Serving Your Meal}

{Formal}

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I have included two diagrams on how I prefer to set a table. Now if you need to give up a few things for space purposes, move your napkin beneath your forks, move the cup and saucer onto the salad plate or away as most like to drink hot beverages afterward and only include one glass for wine or other beverages. In earlier centuries upper class households had servants to take away the plates as they were used. Be prepared to do this yourself so that the table does not become cluttered or unclean with used dinnerware. If you have children, it is not out of the question to teach them to remove the plates for your guests. Teaching them to have a humble servant’s heart will pay off greatly. It’s also a kind gesture to reward them afterward. Such rewards will cut out grudges or unwillingness.

Some prefer to serve plates already dressed with the meal. This is a good tip and very traditional. It will impress your guests. Less formal or family gatherings it is acceptable to dress your plate by passing it around the table as is customary in more westernized cultures.

For Hostesses I would like to remind you to remove your apron while eating. Always serve your husband first unless he asks otherwise or his Boss is present. He is the head of your household and should always be designated as such. Even when my husband and I dine just the two of us, I always do him the honor of dressing his plate. He usually insists on going back for seconds himself and does me the honor of dressing my second plate.

{Entertainment}

It is not unheard of nor foolish to have entertainment after a meal. I find it good taste to have any further festivities after stomach’s are full and everyone is jolly. This allows your guests to have a more sensible and open mind instead of a cranky grumbling stomach. This can be chosen by whatever form you wish, but I always suggest keeping all activities PG and Family Friendly.

{Night Cap}

 The most important part of the night or evening is making sure you are prepared for guests to overstay their welcome. Especially in cases where alcohol is served. It is your duty to care of any inebriated persons, whether that means preparing a place for them to spend the night, or keeping them company until they are sober enough to leave. Never rush anyone, drunk or sober out the door. Making people feel unwelcome is not a kind trait.

I usually only offer leftovers to those that stay until the last. This way you are not bombarded with requests for left overs you cannot comply with. Sometimes I do not offer them at all. This can be judged on your basis. But it is kind to give your extra food to someone you know who may appreciate it, but never in front of other guests. This is to avoid anyone feeling favored or less special.

{ The Aftermath}

My best suggestion when dealing with the cleanup of an event in your home is to do all your dishes before you go to bed, and pick up any trash. You may be exhausted, but part of being hospitable and a good wife or hostess is to have some self motivation. Leave the next day for any last details, and when you are able to sleep in a little you will thank me for pushing you to do the brunt of the work before bed. Nothing is worse than waking up to a sink full of dishes and no pans to cook with.

If you’re like me, you have mastered the art of cleaning and cooking all at the same time. If you haven’t learned this, I have a few good suggestions but I will cover that in a post about cooking some other time.

I hope this broad overview has helped some women or given ideas to some that you may have not thought about previous. I would absolutely love to hear any tips you may have or something you feel I should mention. Discussion is key and very healthy. So I would greatly enjoy chatting with some of you ladies more or less seasoned in hospitality than I.

{My Week So Far}

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So much time has been spent on the farm preparing for winter. We have been blessed the snow has held off this far. Cutting wood for heat in the shop, winterizing pasture waters and pig enclosures and getting the last harvest of apples from the tree has been highly time consuming.

In other news, my hormonal cockatoo, Chloe has chosen my husband as a mate. On top of having 5 medications forced into her daily, she has come to resent Mommy very much. The bruise on my arm is from a rather nasty bite I received when trying to remove her from “our husband.”

Not much time has been spent focusing on domesticated chores and such, because of how busy we have been. Once the snow falls, things should slow way down and give us time to return to normalcy. Or so we pray. I also taught my husband the correct way to make a pie crust. We did become lazy and decided not to weave lattice the top. It turned out very delicious and was demolished in two nights.

{List of things to do this week}

  • Organize Laundry Room
  • Clean Coat Closet
  • Shampoo Living Room Carpet
  • Make Vet Appt. for Marlii.

I hope you all have a blessed week and thank you for reading!

XOXO Sweet Baby Cadillac

{{All photos herein are owned by the Author. Distribution, usage or editing of any of these photos without expressed permission is punishable by law}}

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