First, let me be clear...we had a ball with LoveAphid, Fig, and Grandfather Sanders...it was a wonderful, wonderful visit. They arrived at our house at lunchtime on Monday and headed to the airport at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday evening, giving us a full three days together. I can honestly say, we've never had such a smooth visit with anybody. I'm convinced that it was because we, as the hosts, did a much better job of preparation and planning than we've ever done before. To that end, I thought I'd share with you the things I think made this visit so successful and not at all hectic or stressful.
Menu Planning and Preparation - I might not be good at regular weekly menu planning, but I put a lot of thought into the menu for this trip. Since our guests were staying in a motel close by, I didn't plan breakfast, but I planned lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks. A few weeks before the visit, I asked LoveAphid if there were any food issues or desires she or the guys had. Once I knew about likes and dislikes, I went from there.
I planned sandwiches for our lunches and made sure I had luncheon meats, condiments, and other fixings. To lessen my pressure, I bought sandwich rolls from Costco rather than making a ton of rolls. We had a couple types of chips and tons of fruit (apples, oranges, and bananas). Tea and water were the drinks for the week. Easy peasy, but hearty and guilt-free.
I planned three dinners and had one of them pre-made in anticipation of a busy afternoon on museum day. On the first night Superman made daeji bulgogi (spicy Korean pork) and Tuesday afternoon I made fajitas with fresh tortilla chips. I had spaghetti and meat sauce prepared the week before so we could have a big spaghetti dinner with a nice salad and some of my cheese bread. All I did was pull the sauce out of the freezer before we headed to museum and it was ready to be used when we got home.
I also had the desserts pretty much done ahead of time, with the exception of Cheesecake Brownies (which we made Monday evening).
Putting thought and planning into the meals in advance of the visit freed us from the "where should we go out to eat this time"" or "what does everyone want for lunch/dinner?" dilemmas. I enjoyed eating at home rather than dealing with a lot of restaurant meals for a big crowd....and it saved everybody a lot of money.
Cleaning and NOT cleaning - I cleaned the house a lot before they arrived. I made sure we were dusted, vacuumed, and the works. Then, I let it go and did very little cleaning while they were here. Oh, I cleaned up after each meal and didn't let thinks pile up, but other than that, I completely let it go. A thorough cleaning ahead of time and letting go during the visit made me a better hostess, truly, and everyone felt completely at ease.
Scheduling - This should probably be called NOT scheduling. With meals planned, Game Night scheduled for Tuesday evening, and Wednesday afternoon dedicated to Museum day, I decided that was enough scheduling...I scheduled nothing for Monday afternoon, Tuesday before Game Night, Wednesday evening, or Thursday day before they left. That left us free to go with the flow...video games could last as long as they wanted, a trip to Target or a cool fabric store was not a problem, and the kids could still play outside with their friends, etc. Having a few things scheduled gave us a loose framework, but nothing that made the time hectic. Scheduled free time was the perfect thing to counterbalance the scheduled activities.
All in all, I truly don't think we could have had a better visit. The tears in my eyes when we said good-bye, the kids saying, "I'm going to miss them a lot!", and Superman saying, "That was a really great time!" all show just what a terrific time we had.
So, LoveAphid and Fig, we have just one question: When are you coming back?