Tribute to a True Entertainer

grandma bdayToday 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!


23 thoughts on “Tribute to a True Entertainer”

  • uncle mickey February 4, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I want to be the star of your blog. Very nice article and information about Grandma. Take care

  • Grandma February 4, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Wow what a wonderful tribute. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you soooo much Rebecca. I love you . Grandma

  • cindy cohen February 4, 2010 at 7:22 pm


    that was the most thoughtful and beautiful gift you could ever have given aunt joyce. we are so lucky to have her in our lives ( i just love her honesty) and she is so lucky to have you in hers. you are beautiful and talented young lady and i hope all your dreams come true because you so deserve it!! i am truly impressed with you!!


  • Sharon February 4, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    What a great tribute to a great lady! I’ve learned a thing or two from “Grandma,” too, when it comes to entertaining. She does as much as she can ahead of time so she has more time to enjoy her guests — like setting the table, arranging the buffet, leaving out her serving pieces, etc. Loved the photos, too, Rebecca!

  • Evelyn Goodman and Janis Goodman Weiss February 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Dear Rebecca:

    What a beautiful and (dare we say!) sweet tribute to your wonderful Grandma Joyce. She is everything you write and more — a loving sister, a caring mother, a cherished grandmother and a wonderful friend to all those who know her.

    We join you in wishing Grandma Joyce a happy, happy birthday and many, many more!!

    Evelyn Goodman and Janis Goodman Weiss

  • Paulette February 4, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Happy Happy Birthday and many many more………….
    It is great to have Grandchildren and grater when they learn from thier wonderful, loving, cvaring Grandma.
    You should be very proud, and I know you are.
    Life is Grand…………….
    Love ya
    PS. And you are funny because we always have such good laughs together.

  • Rebecca's Mom February 5, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Rebecca, you never cease to make me and Dad so very proud of you. Your words are kind, caring, thoughtful and so sensitive just like Grandma.

    We are all so blessed to have Grandma in our lives. Your birthday “tribute” brought tears to my eyes. May we all continue to carry on the wonderful traditions and values that Grandma has taught all of us….these are the true gifts in life.

    Love you….Mom

  • Deena Adelson February 5, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Rebecca, reading your Grandma article left a big ol’ smile in my heart! Thank you! 🙂
    Deena Adelson, Orlando, FL

  • Beth February 5, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Dear Joyce,
    What a wonderful tribute. You will always have special days, because you have such caring and loving family in your life. I’m glad we’re part of this family. We wish you happiness every day of your life and especially on your birthday.

  • Fran February 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Dear Joyce.

    I too must respond. You are very special in many ways and Rebecca captured some of your attributes. Your warmth and honesty are what stand out for me. I think your grandchildren truly appreciate you! Again, Happy Birthday.

  • Dana February 5, 2010 at 11:49 am

    What a lovely post! What I always remember about visiting Joyce’s home is that she makes everyone feel comfortable and welcome! You have certainly inherited her entertaining skills 🙂 Happy Birthday Joyce!

  • daddio February 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    BLOGTASTIC!!!!!!!grandma is so lucky in many ways, what a great way to honor Grandma. Keep on blogging. Mom and I are blessed to have 3 beautiful talented daughters(and one handsome clever son-in-law). we are very proud…cusoon!!love mom and dad

  • L*3 February 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Awesome! I want to go have dinner at your grandma’s house… she sounds amazing. Happy Birthday to her.

    Laura Louise

  • Gloria Lavis February 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    A beautiful tribute to Joycea, the most dependable and loyal friend a person could have.

  • We 3 Okies February 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Got it right again! What a GREAT family to be a part of (or a surrogate part of!!) and what a great Grandma to have (and soooo very artistic)!!! Keep on having lots of fun and passing on those great talented genes!!!! Happy (don’t look a day over 60) Birthday Grandma Joyce and way to go Rebecca!!!!!

  • Stan Okies February 6, 2010 at 11:01 am

    What a wonderful way to show your love and appreciation for Joyce! And well deserved. Extremely creative (as we know, runs in the family)!

  • Becky Myers February 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Rebecca—that was the sweetest gift you could give your grandma. The best feeling is to know that traditions have passed on to children and grandchildren. It sounds like your grandma is such an important part of your life and that you have gotten so many traditions from her.
    Joyce—happy birthday. Love, becky

  • Susan February 8, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    What a lovely tribute! She taught you well!

  • Erica and Adam February 9, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing Aunt Joyce’s entertainment secrets. As I was reading your eloquent tribute, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own Mom’s hosting etiquette and smile. There is no doubt that your Grandma, my Mom (Aunt Lainy) and Aunt Doris were all cut from the same fabric! I still fondly remember the times I stayed at Nana’s house and felt very much “entertained” in a similar way as you describe how your Grandma entertains!

    I remember the sweet treats that Nana used to hide behind her bar area and bring out when we arrived. I have also endulged in some yummy chocolates in your Grandma’s entry hallway on several occasions!

    Thank you for capturing her talents and sharing them with the world! We are all so proud to be a part of this family! Way to go Rebecca! May we each be able to carry-on these special and memorable traditions!

  • Wendy February 9, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Rebecca, that was such a warm and touching tribute to Aunt Joyce. She must have learned some of that from Nana because I laughed a couple of times thinking my mom does the same things! The memories and experiences we have with our loved ones make our lives so much more rich! Aunt Joyce I will always remember the time when Yosi and I had more laughs then we could handle running and playing in the hail outside in your courtyard with you and Uncle Dick!

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