Getting ready for overnight guests

March 26, 2019

My mom and sister came in recently from Colorado for a short visit to see my new grand baby. They were only here for three nights, so I wanted to be able to spend as much time with them as possible. Not time in the kitchen preparing food.

Two of our children live out of state, and whenever they come in for a visit, it's the same thing. I want to plan ahead so that I can spend every possible moment with them, talking or playing board games, going to a movie or walking around our little downtown. Not having to run to the grocery store or cook.

Even when I have guests just for dinner, I try and prepare as much as I can ahead of time. Who wants to be stuck in the kitchen when you can visit?

So I try to get as organized as possible ahead of time, planning out all the meals, and buying all the ingredients needed. I also make sure to have ingredients available for guests to make their own sandwiches or snacks, and buy anything extra I know they'll like (diet Dr. Pepper for a dear friend, almond milk for my DIL).

 I select recipes that can be cooked up ahead of time. If there will be family staying over for longer than a couple days, like at Christmas, I'll plan out all the meals and freeze them -- breakfast casseroles and muffins, stews and lasagne, bread and cookies. It's easy to pull out and add a salad or fruit.

So for this most recent visit I just had two dinners to plan and a brunch. My mom and sister were coming in very late on a Thursday evening, so Thursday I did my cooking and baking. 

I made a beef stew for Friday night. I always make stew the day before we eat it anyway, because it always tastes better the next day. We were babysitting that night, so it was easy to carry the pot of stew over to my daughter's house. I brought along bakery rolls and some fruit and dessert.

Then I made this one pot Middle Eastern chicken dish for Saturday night.

This also tastes better made ahead because there's time for all the flavors to meld. I love this dish. It's got olives and apricots and cinnamon and all kinds of yumminess in it. I normally serve it over couscous, but because we have some gluten-free family members, I made rice.

I added an easy green salad and some naan bread quickly warmed in the oven.

It was our daughter's birthday that night so I made a cake that I also was able to partly do ahead of time.

I baked up a doctored devil's food cake (adding sour cream and mini chocolate chips). I wrapped the two layers up on Thursday. Then on Saturday I just needed to make the ganache (heat up heavy whipping cream and add with butter to chocolate chips) to spread over two layers. The other two layers (I split the cake into four layers) I spread with seedless raspberry jam. The recipe called for a homemade raspberry filling, but again, I wanted to make it as easy as possible.

This cake was so delicious! It's definitely going to be making future appearances around here.

The weekend before my mom and sister came we also had overnight guests. I had made a big recipe of breakfast casserole ahead of time, divided it into two dishes, and froze them. I pulled one out for that weekend, adding fruit and muffins. The second one I was able to pull out when my mom and sister were here.

Another thing that's nice to have set up is a coffee station. I've changed this a bit now as spring is here, and we're not really drinking hot chocolate anymore. But here I have hot chocolate mix and peppermint flavored mini-marshmallows, cinnamon sticks, and flavored syrup for coffee. The Keurig and electric kettle are just to the right of this tray, the coffee and tea cups in the cupboard above, and tea bags in the drawer beneath.

This makes it easy for guests to help themselves.

Although I like to make as much as I can from scratch, there's no shame in buying prepared foods!

Book club was last night, and I didn't have time to make anything or go to the store. I remembered I had this triple ginger cake from Trader Joe's in my freezer. I popped it on a pink Target cake plate. It was delicious.

I also had some eggs so I made up a quick plate of deviled eggs. My friends usually bring treats as well, so I was all set.

The less fun part of getting ready for guests is cleaning the house!

Since The Massive Decluttering of 2018, it has gotten easier to clean my house. But it still needs to be done. I try and keep on top of it so it's not such a huge job when people come over. I also have someone come in once a month for a few hours to help out.

Clean sheets on the beds, and clean towels and soap in the bathrooms. And we're ready.

I am not Super Woman. Far from it. I know my limits, and know that I can't run around like a crazy woman. Planning is key. And with so many in our family out of state, times together are few and precious. A little planning ahead of time helps guarantee I can relax and enjoy their visit.

How about you? How do you get ready for guests?


  1. Since everyone lives close, I rarely have overnight guests. I have been a Flybaby for nearly twenty years so that helps. Meal planning is not my thing. I really have to work at that. So was everyone smitten with the little one? I can imagine that Great-grandma thought he was wonderful.

  2. Your food photos made my mouth water. I'm sure that your guests enjoyed their visit. I'm trying to find my motivation to do some spring cleaning...

  3. Yes I do prepare for guests so that I can spend the maximum time with them and not in the kitchen. We have two of our daughters and their little families visiting soon so food is been prepared and frozen. Such a good idea to have a drinks station for ease.

  4. I too like to plan ahead and make dishes ahead of time like you. The chicken dish looks amazing and I love anything Trader Joes. It doesn't always have to be a fancy dessert and I agree with you. I have a cleaning lady that comes every other week and that helps out a lot.

  5. You are the perfect hostess, my friend. Everything looks oh-so-wonderful and tasty. I am like you and try to prepare everything, or almost everything, ahead of time. I don't like to be in the kitchen when guests arrive {{smiles}} I am sure you had a delightful time with your loved ones - what a blessing.

    Love and hugs to you!

  6. I so enjoy your postings about how you manage your time Deborah.
    That dish looks like a wonderful and tasty make ahead meal, I would think that it would enhance in flavor over night.
    Your coffee station is simply delightful! I would love a station like that but I just haven't the room.

    I too like to prepare ahead of time for engagements, being organized is something I find great pleasure in.
    Since my balance issue entertaining has become more of a challenge for me, so I have to get all my ducks in a row days ahead or it's one big mess, especially with me, myself and I.😉
    I bet having your home decluttered makes for easy and time consuming cleaning.

    So nice to visit with you ~
    Happy Day to you 🌷

  7. Same thing with me - I like to be all ready and then spend time with my guests. Like you, I always have muffins or some kind of cake in the freezer that is ready to go. I like to have dishes that are in the oven or crock pot and no fuss. We are having company for brunch this week....making Monte Cristo Sandwiches in the oven - so no standing over the stove while guests are here. Pairing that with a green salad with fruit and lemon dressing, potato chips ( if any dish even resembles a sandwich my dear husband must have chips)...and will round that out with some chocolates and some cookies I made last week that I will pop out of the freezer. Like your cake - put something on a pedestal dish and it looks special. We are new Costco members, so I am anxious to find more thing to have in my freezer. We also downsized and simplified, so cleaning is quick and easy. One question for you ever get "remarks" for being so organized and having everything ready. Sometimes people say things that make me feel I am TOO ready. Just asking...don't really care. Love having people come for any many people do not invite people into their homes and prefer to meet at restaurants. Dining at home is much more relaxing. Blessings to you and your gift of hospitality to family and friends!

  8. Hi Deb - wow, you truly are the hostess with the mostest! And I mean that in the most respective possible way.

    How I get ready for company and overnight guests (such as this Easter dinner with overnights, husband's side)? Panic, dread, digging Trying to find the drive and energy and stamina to make it work, and I am not sure I will find it.

    You have inspired me though. I need to plan more ahead this year. I am not sleeping and am soooooooooooooooo tired these days.

    Big hugs. ♥

  9. I enjoyed hearing about the meals that you are able to prepare ahead of time, so that you can spend all the time you can with your family or guests. The raspberry chocolate cake looks soo amazing! What a great idea to make it ahead of time and wrap it to keep it fresh. Our home is so tiny that we don't often have guests, and if we do, many times the fun revolves around the food and everyone ends up in the kitchen socializing and visiting, lol! I hope you had a wonderful time with your mother and sister enjoying the sweet grandbaby, what an exciting time for all of you! Blessings to you :)

  10. As life has changed over the years, mostly I now meet friends over a coffee, sometimes for lunch, both at a cafe. I do miss the sharing of food that has been home made. I have adult children and grandchildren who are superb cooks, and I love going to their homes to eat.

  11. I have two families out of province. So yes, planning and preparing ahead of time is key for me too. I always cook their favourite dishes ahead and freeze them as well as any treats they might enjoy. It's still a lot of work but I try to get it done. They always appreciate my efforts which is nice. I love a chocolate cake with raspberries. It's perfect for a birthday! I'm sure the new addition was loved on and fussed over. Nothing quite like a new baby to bring a lot of joy to one's heart and home. Happy Spring, Deborah! xo

  12. I really like your coffee station. The birthday cake looks yummy!

  13. I am a nervous wreck when company is coming...I need to learn to chill! It's amazing how different dishes from different parts of the country are. I see recipes from people up north or out west and they look good but I would probably never find the ingredients here in the deep south. I know you enjoyed your family coming for a visit, and I am sure they enjoyed those delicious meals you planned and cooked for them.

  14. Good advice to prepare ahead. Do you have a link for the Moroccan dish.😬


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