Today is a very special day. It is the 76th birthday of my maternal grandmother. Ladies and Gentlemen, the kindhearted, giving, loving artist and former El Paso High School Football Queen herself, Grandma Joyce. (Sorry, Grandma, I just disclosed your age to people you may or may not know, but all for good reason). I believe that part of the passion I have for entertaining others is deeply rooted in my genes, and Grandma Joyce has instilled in me a love for hosting others and providing them with a memorable experience. Growing up, and to this day, holidays, special occasions, and family get-togethers often happen at Grandma’s house. As an experienced professional in the area of hosting, she has taught me, either by showing, doing, or telling, how to be as hospitable as possible to create memories with the ones you know and love. Here are a few things I’ve learned from Grandma Joyce about entertaining others in your own home:
- Doilies. You must always have these paper or woven cloth mats on hand to decorate dessert serving trays before placing sweet treats on top. They instantly fancy up your display and make it look more classic. Grandma, did you know that Doiley’s are named after a 17th-century draper?
- Pre-Event Robe or Apron. When you ladies are preparing delicacies in the kitchen before your guests arrive, if you must shower ahead of time, do your hair first, and wear a robe or apron while working in the kitchen so your clothes don’t get dirty. Then just before guests arrive, put on your entertaining attire, and finish off with makeup. (Okay, so I’m not sure if this is the exact order, but the robe is a staple pre-event garment to prevent spilling and stains on the outfit you surely picked out ahead of time, and Grandma’s hair is always done in advance).
- Greet Guests at the Door. One of my favorite parts about visiting Grandma’s house when she’s entertaining is her greeting me at the door. Unless you are tending to an on-the-verge-of-a-kitchen-disaster situation, sneak away from the kitchen for a moment to greet each guest as they walk in. They will instantly feel at home, whether this is their first, or their twentieth time in your home.
- Candles. Lighting a few candles in your home always creates a warm, cozy feel for guests, and may add a sweet scent to the social environment. They can also be a relaxing accent to the scene.
- Munchies. Always have snacks around for guests to munch on before the meal. Grandma’s staples include mixed nuts, guacamole, veggies and hummus. You can almost always also find chocolate covered espresso beans or nuts, dried apricots or cranberries, and Hershey’s Nuggets on the bar en route to the living room– perfect placement for a swift movement of the hand.
- A Few Beverage Options. As they say, grandparents are known for spoiling their grandchildren. And, at Grandma Joyce’s house, there are always options, and you’ll never go hungry…or thirsty. For dinner gatherings, red and white wine are always in stock, as well as a few soft drinks to please everyone. They also say “you can’t please everyone”, but Grandma can, and she does.
- Grandma’s Special Salad Dressing. Grandma serves a salad made of fresh greens and vegetables with almost every evening meal. She adds her special touch by eye-balling her famous dressing that is so simple, but she still makes it better than I do every time! It consists of olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, and a little grated parmesan cheese.
- Dessert. Another genetic hand-me-down I acquired from Grandma Joyce is my sweet tooth. There is always dessert at Grandma’s. I look forward to chocolate brownies (they freeze well!), chocolate chip cookies, and fruit sorbets in the summertime to bring my time at Grandma’s house to a sweet close.
These simple entertaining tips come from a woman I admire, cherish, and am so lucky to have as my hostessing mentor! As Julie, her 2nd oldest grandchild eloquently states, “her grandchildren are so lucky to have such an incredible, empowering, fashionable, skilled entertainer and fabulous role model as our Grandma.” Best of all, this classy and beautiful woman inside and out is not afraid to roll-up her sleeves and bite into a big ol’ burger and some fries. Entertaining is all about fun! Grandma, I love you, Happy Birthday!