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Posts Tagged ‘Food allergy’

As Thanksgiving Nears, Ten Ways To Be A Gracious Host

In business, food, parenting, travel on November 22, 2010 at 1:32 am
New welcome mat from my parents

Image via Wikipedia

Being invited to someone’s home — as many of us will soon be for the holidays, whether for a party, a meal or a few days — is supposed to be a wonderful thing, a gesture of affection and hospitality. As we all know, it can also lead to sulks, sighs, flounces, shouts or worse.

Herewith a few rules for the host:

Make it fun. Really. Too many people stress themselves out to create Martha Stewart-esque perfection, determined to get it right, or else. I love to entertain in style, with candles and linen napkins, but if my guests aren’t having a good time, there’s not much point. Great music and soft lighting help. Delegate as many tasks as possible and allow plenty of time between the house-cleaning, food shopping, prep and cooking — and your meal or party. A pooped-out host(ess) is no fun!

Offer a wide array of beverage choices. Pellegrino, lots of lime and lemon slices, fresh ice, freshly-squeezed orange juice, V-8 juice and brewed tea make a nice break from sugary sodas or liquor. (Most fruit juices contain way too much sugar for those trying to lose weight.) If you’re serving tea or coffee, it’s great to have half-and-half and skim milk available as well.

Determine food allergies — but set your limits. This is really tricky in an age of vegans, gluten-free adherents and people choosing to follow any number of exotic diets. I once prepared a great salmon dish to have my 25-year-old guests sniff “I don’t eat fish.” Yes, we made them something else, but they haven’t been invited back since.

Be clear about your expectations. If the cat will rush into busy traffic if a door is opened, make that known. If you won’t tolerate anyone else disciplining your children, say so. If the apartment door must be double-bolted upon exiting to be secure, tell your houseguests, preferably a few times.

Write stuff down. If you have guests with you for a while, a written list of tips can’t hurt — where to find the coffee, whether you compost or recycle, the location of the nearest pharmacy or grocery store. Most people hate to snoop or nag, and everyone runs their household a little differently.

Anticipate disaster. If you really don’t want a red wine stain anywhere, don’t serve it. If your best crystal is irreplaceable, don’t put it within anyone’s reach.

Stock your medicine cabinet. No one wants to come unprepared, but emergencies happen — aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, bandages, sanitary supplies, extra razors or toothbrushes are all very much appreciated by needy guests.

Don’t assume your guests know how to (safely) operate any of your technology. Explain clearly anything they might find confusing. This might be anything from your remote to your coffee-maker to your music system.

Let your guests know it’s OK to do their laundry (if it is) and have extra soap on hand. If they’ve been on the road for a while, or have little kids or work out often, it’s a relief to be able to keep up.

Make houseguests truly feel at home. Nice towels, a few new magazines, a box of chocolates, a pitcher of ice water and some pretty fresh flowers in their room will make them feel pampered. If you really don’t want people around, don’t invite them, or limit their stay. They can feel it. Fake or forced hospitality is a misery for everyone.

It's A Dinner Invitation — Not A Diner Menu!

In food on November 22, 2009 at 5:43 pm
Dinner party with Synne and Mike

Image by Elin B via Flickr

Great New York Times rant today about the total PITA that some spoiled guests have turned into these days. If you’re someone who loves to cook and to entertain, there are few things more annoying and depressing than the hand-flapping dictum “We don’t eat…”, preceding a princess-y list some people now subject their hosts to before deigning to eat a free meal lovingly prepared.

A few months ago, which really put us off our game for a while afterward, we prepared a terrific salmon recipe from Gourmet. “We don’t eat fish,” the 30-ish married couple, she a friend since she was once of my students years earlier, announced as they sat down. Um, well, that’s actually what’s for dinner. Eat more vegetables and bread, slurp down a little extra wine, and deal.

Your host/ess has worked long and hard, happily, to make an evening s/he hopes will be pleasant and convivial. Turning up your nose at those efforts is just plain rude.

We had a slightly older couple over for dinner this weekend for the first time, always a slightly nervous endeavor these days in light of such fussiness.  I asked my standard question before planning the menu about their food allergies or really strong food dislikes. “We eat everything,” she said. And, bless ‘em, including seconds, they did.

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