Accommodate holiday guests, make food stress-free

As the holiday season approaches, so do a lot of out-of-towners. And some of them might even be staying at your house!

Are you ready for them? Or are you asking yourself, "How am I ever going to make them comfortable?"

Well, it's really pretty simple. Just figure out what it is that would make them feel at home in your home, then do it. Indeed, the art of hospitality begins the moment guests walk through your front door, but if you've done your homework, everything will be just dandy.

It helps to think about your own experiences on the road. What makes you feel welcome in unfamiliar spaces? What kinds of amenities were provided?

For starters, your guests will appreciate it if you:

  • Clear out a set of drawers for their clothes, as well as some closet space with extra hangers.
  • Make sure there's a decent reading light by their bed, along with some entertaining reading material.
  • Arrange a clear, uncluttered path to the bathroom; install some plug-in night lights in the hall and bathroom sockets so they can find their way.
  • Think about the small details that will make your guests feel welcome and special, and not worry that they're imposing. A chocolate truffle and little bag of Northwest hazelnuts waiting in their room, perhaps?
  • Provide extra pillows and at least one extra blanket because everybody has a different internal thermostat.
  • Assemble a butler basket in their room or in the hall containing a lot of different sample-sized items — deodorant, toothbrushes, mouthwash, toothpaste and disposable razors — that might not have made it into their suitcases.
  • Stock the medicine cabinet with sleeping aids, antacid, anti-diarrhea medicine, etc., so a frazzled traveler can find some comfort without having to talk about it.
  • Find out food preferences or avoidances ahead of time and stock the fridge and pantry accordingly. It's also a good idea to provide a tour of the kitchen to show them where everything is located before going to bed. If you think they'll be up before you in the morning, show them how to work the kettle or coffee maker and where the mugs and teacups are.
  • Fill them in on your family's morning routine so they can adjust accordingly.

With all of that handled, you should be able to relax and enjoy your company, particularly if you've planned some uncomplicated menus. For instance, these breakfast casseroles are designed for stress-free mornings. Any one of them can be assembled the day before guests arrive, so all you have to do on that first, bleary-eyed morning is pull it from the fridge, pop it in the oven and relax.

Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of "Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit" and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at

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