How To: Always Be Prepared For Unexpected Guests

111308-guests.jpgThanksgiving, a dinner party, an out of town guest is one thing. You know in advance how many people are coming over beforehand and have days, even weeks to prepare. But, what about the friend who calls when she's in the neighborhood, the neighbor who rings the door bell, the work buddy who stops by at dinner time? We like to have an open door policy. Here's how we keep from going insane...

  • Can I get you something? Trey Russell, who was profiled in this week's Los Angles Times Home & Garden section, is always prepared to offer guests some tea. Create a tray of your own: cups and saucers, sugar cubes, some good tea and packaged cookies. Just add boiling water and voila!
  • How about a drink? Use the same principle to create a bar station for guests who prefer something stronger. A minimal bar might include vodka, a good single malt scotch, a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine; keep sparkling water, citrus fruit, and a juice or two in the fridge. If you entertain frequently, consider creating a signature cocktail to offer your guests. Keep nuts and other nibbles in your pantry or freezer that can be pulled out at a moment's notice.
  • So, do you want to stay for dinner? A quick dinner can be as simple as pasta with bottled marinara sauce (both of which can find space in your cupboard) and some grated parmesan (keep a container in your freezer). Stretch an already cooked dinner by serving it over pasta or by serving smaller portions. Head to the Kitchn's cupboard challenges (Eric Ripert and Sheila Lukins have recently rose to the occassion) to get some ideas on how to manage a meal from an near-empty pantry.
  • Sure, you can crash. If you have a guest room, make sure the guest bed's always made up and that there's a clean towel. Friends of ours buy towels for their guests in a different colour to differentiate it from their everyday towels and keep them in the guest room.
  • My house is a mess. A cleaning routine can make inviting guests in a possibility rather than a pipe dream. If your home is more than a few minutes away from being presentable, consider joining us in the cure to clear the clutter or try some of these tips

How do you handle unexpected guests? Share your tricks, and your stories, with us in the comments.

[image: Tracy & Rex's Southbay Home]