We had sliding glass doors on the front of our house. I walked out of the kitchen and caught a glimpse. There she was, one of my guests 20 minutes early! I took a quick look at the table, just to see everything piled up that I had hoped to top it with minutes later. My hair was still in a top knot, there was food bubbling on the stove and all sorts of “unreadiness” everywhere I looked. Full of smiles, she walked in excited for the night ahead, while I wished I felt just a tad more prepared for her arrival. Thai culture gave me a crash course on spontaneous guests because time was just a suggestion, and drop-in visitors are valued. I learned quickly that while there was value to learning to love this type of visitor, I wanted to figure out how to be just a bit more confident in welcoming them.
We all have our stories of “Oh crap, they’re here!” No matter how much we prepare, these types of guests are inevitable. I realized that the more and more these guests stopped in, I was pulling out the same kitchen essentials to set up a make-shift “gathering in 5” type setup. I eventually started to joke, “Hurry, I need my Oh Crap kit!” It was then that I realized there is something about this that could actually change the way we welcome guests on the fly. With confidence, without the pit in our stomach. With a bit more “Oh, come on in!” instead of “oh…” you got it!
Just like a first aid kit, we recommend having these items on hand before you need them! They each have a purpose for various parts of this hospitality emergency. The kit works because it pulls together practicality, ambience, and a set station for guests to interact with that can be set up wherever you need it! Whether it’s your kitchen island, your living room coffee table, or your back porch, use this kit to pull together a gathering to either buy yourself some time or simply enjoy it from here! Here are the pieces you need:
Your vase will show guests where to gather! Think of it as the “x marks the spot;” where you plant it is now the official “we will gather here” spot! I recommend setting it up somewhere away from other preparations or in a space in your home you are confident gathering in. Everything else will be set up around it. While a gorgeous modern vase can be a centerpiece on its own, we also recommend that you clip some greens from your yard, fill it with a supermarket bouquet or some artificial flowers. Are you looking for a vase to add to your kit? We recommend starting neutral with a glass or cream vase, so that no matter what you fill it with, it will come with beauty! As you grow your collection, add pieces that represent your style with golds, light blues, or whatever matches your home! Then you can pick your vase based on the season and what you are able to fill it with that day.
Often when guests stop in that means…we didn’t have time to clean the way we probably would if we had just a tad bit more notice. We have another article to walk you through a 15 minute quick clean, if you have that much time! If you don’t, I’m going to give you good news. Fresh scent gives a tone of cleanliness to any space! People connect clean smells with clean atmosphere, which is good news for the last minute guest. In the area where you are gathering, light a candle or diffuse essential oils and watch it work like a charm! As I have discussed this topic with our community, I realize that many people can be sensitive to scents. If you find that that is true for you, you can blow out the candles, open the windows and just let some fresh air make its way through. A genius member of our community also suggested that if you know your guest is sensitive to scents, you can allow your food to work for you by throwing in a batch of cookies as well.
Do you need to buy a candle or diffuser to have on hand? I have been buying candles based with essential oils, as I find they are easier on crowds who are prone to headaches and also just for overall health. With diffusers, there are so many ornate, beautiful options that can compliment the style of your home decor.
Do you have a platter you connect to on a soul level? A platter that makes you smile when you see it, the one you default to? That is what you need as a part of your kit! These are the pieces of serveware that you can top with pizza rolls or hummus and veggies and it will make it all look beautiful! Our motto for serveware is that it should make your gathering effortlessly beautiful. Oftentimes, hosts buy for function but not design, which can lead to frustration with the end food display. It doesn’t have to be more expensive, just more intentional. Having a platter like this as a part of your kit will not only make the overall display beautiful but truly, you can turn an average snack or frozen appetizer into something more celebratory just through plating.
Are you looking to add a new board to your kit? We recommend that each kitchen has a black, white, and wood platter option. Each of these highlights food in a different way and allows you more flexibility when considering things like theme. Pick one and build over time. While you can find statement boards at many of your favorite stores, we’d love to invite you to buy one through our collection at Home by Gather.
Nothing is more effortlessly beautiful than a glass pitcher! Fill it with lemons, water, or even tea, and elevate a simple beverage! I am a sucker for a beautiful craft drink for an event, but you know what else I’m a cheerleader for? Infused water with whatever you have in the fridge! I am known to throw together a mixture of whatever herb I have with …whatever fruit is calling my name! Whether it’s apple, cinnamon stick, and rosemary, or lemon, cucumber, and mint, these simple water additions shine bright in a clear pitcher. While plastic pitchers have their place, for this think a simple pitcher with class. I have searched extensively for options and found that truly you can spend the same price on something purely functional as you will for an option with a bit more design.
Store all of these pieces together for easy access and even faster set up!
Keep baguettes in the freezer and tapenade in the pantry; when guests arrive simply slice and toast the bread in the oven and serve for a classic, delicious app.
When I bake cookies, I always try to bake extra for the freezer! Whether you do that or keep cookie dough on hand, these tips also make for a crowd-pleasing last minute food option!
How’s your Kit? Does it need some help?
Take time this month to get what you need to turn your angsty “Oh Crap” into a confident “Oh, come on in!” 🌿
Your FREE meal time-planning guide is coming to your inbox soon! Cheers to sitting at the table with a smile on your face instead of coming with that last dish 15 minutes late, again!