The pop-by is one of the most wonderful parts of the holiday season, but for many, it can be one of the most stressful. For me, it usually means opening the door partway, trying to decide whether or not to let the people come in and see my cluttered living room. If, by a rare chance my house is clean, the polite thing to do is invite them in, have a chat, and offer them something to eat. But having something festive to eat at the ready is unlikely for me, seeing as having a clean house is nothing shy of a miracle.
So, here is an idea for when friends stop by at the last minute. I call it The Emergency Entertaining Kit.
To make one, find a container that will fit well in your pantry, in a place that is out of reach of little hands and hungry teenagers.
Focus on non-perishable items, but hit the grocery store for items that will refrigerate for the entire month, such as blue cheese or oranges.
Stock up on:
- dried fruits
- jarred olives
- small cookies
Read the labels of everything you buy to make sure all the ingredients in the food are words you can pronounce. When food is made with whole ingredients, it’s a better quality item, and chances are, it will taste better.
Come home and fill your container. If a tray will fit in the box, include it, but if not, just store it on the shelf so it’s in reach when you need it. Place all non-perishable items in the container. Add in napkins, small serving pieces, and a festive tablecloth.
Bake a favorite holiday dessert, and freeze it. As fun as all the store-bought goodies are, it’s nice to include something homemade. And if it’s frozen, the work gets done ahead of time. My family always has a freezer full of their favorite Philly Cheese Pound Cake. It’s versatile and freezes beautifully, and they use it all the time for unexpected guests. For the recipe, you can see it here: Philly Cheese Pound Cake
When guests arrive, assemble the food on the tray, and set it out for guests to help themselves.
There are endless possibilities.
For a teatime drop-by, I found some stick-shaped shortbread, amaretti from Italy, and these fantastic Honey Spoons.
For something more savory, I assembled jalapeno stuffed olives, some pear jam, savory cookies, and small selection of cheese.
If your guests have more of a sweet tooth, give ’em what they want. This tray includes more amaretti from Italy (because the wrappers are so pretty), chocolates, mandarin oranges, raw cashews, fruit jellies dusted in powdered sugar, and fruit juice sweetened cranberries.
With this kit in my cupboards, I can relax and focus on keeping the house clean, so that I can focus more on my friends. And when they stop by, I’ll be ready.
What do you/would you stock in your emergency entertaining kit?