guests en-US 14 Things Good Hosts Never Do <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/14-things-good-hosts-never-do" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="party host" title="party host" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="144" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I throw a couple parties a year and host overnight guests regularly as an <a href="">Airbnb host</a>, but I'm far from the host with the most. Still, I strive to be better. That's why I polled a few friends and experts to see what's on their list of party fouls that a good host would never commit. (See also: <a href="">Don't Ruin the Party: 11 Things Good Guests Never Do</a>)</p> <h2>1. Expect Gifts</h2> <p>I don't expect anyone to bring me a gift when I'm hosting &mdash; and, honestly, I'd rather they didn't bring a gift unless it's something consumable (who needs more <em>stuff</em>?), and I'm not alone. Relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, author of the critically acclaimed online advice column <a href="">Ask April</a>, agrees. &quot;Good hosts will never insist on gifts. It's great to celebrate your birthday, anniversary or impending nuptials, but insisting or expecting gifts is greedy and bad form. That's not to say you shouldn't be gracious when you do receive presents, but if you're throwing an event to celebrate yourself, make sure the focus is on the celebration &mdash; not the bounty.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Let the Guests Fend for Themselves for Household Necessities</h2> <p>Susan Callender, founder of <a href="">Oh! My Gauche</a>, a service dedicated to social savvy and professional skills, says that good hosts will always have information on guest amenities &mdash; like password-protected Wi-Fi, washer/dryer, iron and ironing board, etc. &mdash; available where the guest can easily find them, like in a binder or folder in the guest bedroom. You also can add take-out menus, your home address and phone number (I doubt they have it memorized), and tourism information about your area if you'd like. It'll make the guest's stay hassle-free and more enjoyable.</p> <h2>3. Request That Guests Bring Something (Unless They Insist)</h2> <p>Whitney L. Smith, owner of the lifestyle blog <a href="">Pumps &amp; Circumstance</a>, thinks it's rude for hosts to ask guests to bring an item to any event other than a potluck. &quot;I love entertaining, and one of the things I don't think is proper for a host to do is to request that guests bring something,&quot; she says. There is an exception, however: &quot;If guests <em>offer</em> to bring something it's OK to request ice or beverages, but to ask them to bring food is a no-no.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Let Guests Clean Up</h2> <p>The trash needs to go outside, your guest is on her way outside. Makes sense, right? Wrong. If they offer, great, but otherwise, hosting is not about efficiency; it's ultimately about providing a service to others.</p> <h2>5. Require Guests to Pay Unexpectedly</h2> <p>Maybe you're young, maybe you don't read Wise Bread enough and don't have the savings to throw a party where everything's covered. That's okay. But it needs to be made clear to your guests beforehand.</p> <h2>6. Make a Scene If Someone Brings an Unapproved +1</h2> <p>Gwendolyn Mulholland, owner of the family blog <a href="">Finding Sanity in Our Crazy Life</a>, suggests that hosts suck it up and keep their mouths shut about a guest who brought a date when plus-ones weren't expected. I agree with her &mdash; there's nothing you can do about it now, short of kicking them out, and you don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, do you?</p> <p>However, to the guest who does this &mdash; you should consider yourself lucky when your host doesn't make a scene. Consider that the extra person could throw off the dynamic of the room, especially if guests were invited based on compatibility. Also, the host prepared food for the invited guests, not the surprise guest. What if he or she doesn't like what's being served? What if the host doesn't have enough food? There are a few invariables here that you really don't want to tilt too far. (See also: <a href="">Quick Pantry Snacks for Uninvited Guests</a>)</p> <h2>7. Allow Anyone Underage to Drink</h2> <p>Advice columnist April Masini chimes in again with another really excellent tip: &quot;Good hosts never encourage underage guests to drink,&quot; she reminds us. &quot;Forget being the cool parent or the cool family friend. If there are underage teens and young adults at your home, you are responsible for what you serve them, and even if their parents say it's okay, it's your house, your rules. You'll save yourself a bundle of hassle if there's a potential accident that you are responsible for by serving underage guests, and if there isn't, you've set the standard at your house and everyone will know for next time. Better safe than sorry.&quot;</p> <h2>8. Run Out of Food and Drinks</h2> <p>When I host parties, I abide by the rule of seconds &mdash; I buy enough food for every guest to have them. Of course, some guests won't have seconds, so there may be a generous amount of food left (par for the course; it's always better to have more than enough than not enough), in which case you can do a few things:</p> <ul> <li>Send guests home with a plate for later.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Pack the leftovers for lunch.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Donate the food to a local organization whose volunteers might enjoy the home-cooked or catered food.</li> </ul> <h2>9. Neglect to Clean and Properly Stock the Bathroom Prior</h2> <p>Now we're getting into serious territory. If you've failed to stock your bathroom with the necessary essentials, you may very well embarrass the person who needs to call someone to bring the TP. Can you imagine? I'd die of humiliation and then come back to life as the ghost that haunts that terrible host forever. Also, there's this related tip from a friend: &quot;A good host would never invite someone over when their toilet is clogged. Been to a house party like that. Awful, awful experience.&quot; Let's leave it at that.</p> <h2>10. Stash Away the Good Bottle of Wine That the Guest Brought</h2> <p>&quot;A good host should always open a nice bottle of wine that a guests brings to a dinner or party,&quot; says Kelsey Graves founder of the party-inspiration site We Heart Parties. &quot;It is not polite to keep the nice bottle for yourself. Be sure to open it and share it with your guests.&quot; Another way to put it is: Stop being stingy, you lush!</p> <h2>11. Serve Themselves First</h2> <p>Let your guests have first dibs on the food that you've prepared &mdash; just like your grandmother did; she didn't eat until everybody else was fed, remember?</p> <h2>12. Allow Pets to Annoy Guests</h2> <p>I love dogs &mdash; I have a dog myself &mdash; but my husband and I take measures to ensure that he won't annoy guests when we host an event. For shorter gatherings, like a brunch at our house, he's fine in our bedroom for a couple hours. But for longer parties &mdash; like around the holidays &mdash; it's best for us to send him to daycare for the night where he can play with his furry friends while our guests can enjoy themselves without an animal begging for food or attention.</p> <h2>13. Fail to Introduce Guests Who Don't Know Each Other</h2> <p>If the party is heavy on mixed company, it's the host's job to acquaint everyone at the beginning. Make a habit of making introductions as soon as a guest arrives, so you don't get preoccupied, forget about the person, and let him fend for himself. Some people just aren't comfortable going up to strangers and making small talk. Not that I'm at all bitter or speaking from personal experience, of course.</p> <h2>14. Invite the Wrong Mix of People</h2> <p>If you're inviting a mixed bag of people who don't necessarily know each other, it's wise to consider the potential compatibility of guests as well, especially for a sit-down event or an overnight excursion.</p> <p>I tend to invite singles that I think might compliment each other and couples with similar interests. For an intimate dinner, for example, I'm definitely not inviting my very religious friends to dine with my LGBT-activist friends. While I'm all for rousing dinner conversation, there are some things better left unsaid. It also wouldn't be very fun for a single friend to attend an event filled with only couples. While not every person will become besties, you at least want the group to enjoy each other's company for a couple hours.</p> <p><em>What are some things that you think good hosts should never do? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="14 Things Good Hosts Never Do" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entertainment Lifestyle dinner entertaining guests host party pot luck Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1160904 at Don't Ruin the Party: 11 Things Guests With Good Social Skills Never Do <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-ruin-the-party-11-things-guests-with-good-social-skills-never-do" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="dinner party" title="dinner party" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="149" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most parties don't require you to sign a contract at the front door.</p> <p>But all the same: by showing up, you've committed to a contract, albeit a non-verbal one. Your hosts agree to do everything reasonable to ensure your good time, and, basically, you agree to do everything reasonable to not make it blow up in their faces. (See also: <a href="">18 Things People With Good Social Skills Never Do</a>)</p> <p>So take a look at this list and make sure you're not unintentionally committing any party fouls. Your hosts (and your social calendar) will thank you for it.</p> <h2>1. Never Be Unnecessarily Non-Committal About an RSVP</h2> <p>Sad but true: You can screw things up before the party even begins! Specifically, by telling your host &quot;no thanks&quot; and then showing up, telling your host &quot;yes please!&quot; and then skipping, telling your host &quot;maybe&quot; for no good reason, and/or holding off on saying anything at all (whether to see who else RSVPs or some other reason). Simply put: Your host is sending you an invite because they want you there, but also because they <em>need</em> to know how many people are coming. If you have a potential conflict and really aren't sure, or something comes up last minute, fine. Otherwise, treat your RSVP like you would a professional interaction: be prompt and accurate.</p> <h2>2. Never Demand Special Food, Drink, or Treatment</h2> <p>Some hosts will ask if you have special dietary needs or desires. And that is wonderful. But if they don't, the burden is on you to eat what you can on the night of the party, not on them to provide you with your favorite finger-food. Asking before the party can cause stress, and asking during the party isn't going to accomplish anything. Remember, your job as a guest is to be low maintenance!</p> <h2>3. Never Show Up Empty-Handed</h2> <p>You aren't in college anymore. (&hellip;and if you are, try bringing a gift to the party for once &mdash; everyone will be amazed and impressed!). Bring a gift, and make sure it's not one that you intend consume wholly by yourself. (In other words, <em>don't</em> bring your favorite bottle of wine, then hoard it in the corner).</p> <h2>4. Never Fail to Greet and Thank the Host</h2> <p>They're not always going to be able to greet you out the door, so seek them out! Interrupting them briefly to say &quot;hi&quot; is fine &mdash; they'll appreciate you letting them know you're there.</p> <h2>5. Never Monopolize the Host's Time</h2> <p>Yes, interrupting to say hi is fine, but interrupting repeatedly to update your host on your life, your kid's life, your cat's life&hellip; not so much. Respect that your host is &quot;on duty&quot; and has to spread their attention around. If you don't think you're getting enough one-on-one time, well&hellip; Schedule some one-on-one time! This is party time.</p> <h2>6. Never Wander Off-Limits</h2> <p>However fascinating it may be to explore roped-off rooms, wings, and secret lairs, these places are off-limits for a reason. And no, you don't need to know that reason, beyond &quot;because that's what your hosts have asked of you.&quot; As for <em>what's</em> in-bounds, here's a rule of thumb: If you find yourself alone and you're looking at things other than your own phone (i.e. photos on the wall), you're probably not where you should be.</p> <h2>7. Never Fight With Another Guest</h2> <p>Unless you're a Real Housewife, part of your social contract involves keeping the peace. All but the most dire offenses should be ignored, and all but the most awful people should be given the benefit of the doubt. Arguing at the party isn't standing up for yourself, it's insulting the host by disrespecting the work they've put into ensuring a good time.</p> <h2>8. Never Complain About the Food</h2> <p>Unless you brought it, you're going to offend the host or whoever was on snack duty. Even if you're good friends with the host, there's no reason to make them ill at ease about their catering &mdash; if you don't like it, don't eat it!</p> <h2>9. In Fact, Never Complain About Anything</h2> <p>While you're busy not-complaining about the food, try to use the same approach to anything and everything related to the party. Unless there's something that's clearly affecting everybody, and is an easy fix (e.g., turning the air conditioning down), then complaints accomplish nothing but making your host feel bad.</p> <h2>10. Never Forget to Have Fun!</h2> <p>Ultimately, this is why you're here. Supporting your host's efforts is important, but ultimately those efforts are geared toward facilitating <em>your</em> fun, so take advantage!</p> <h2>11. &hellip;And Failing That, Never <em>Look</em> Like You're Not Having Fun</h2> <p>No one can force you to have a good time. But if you agreed to show up, it's on you to force yourself to at least put on a happy face. Pouts and sighs and eye rolls don't go unnoticed by hosts. Even if they don't have the time to ask you &quot;what's wrong,&quot; these signs will certainly concern them, and that's the last thing you want.</p> <p>Of course, you could always just refer back to #10 and enjoy yourself.</p> <p><em>Any other tips for good party-going etiquette? Let us know.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Don&#039;t Ruin the Party: 11 Things Guests With Good Social Skills Never Do" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Joe Epstein</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development etiquette guests party Thu, 26 Jun 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Joe Epstein 1149624 at How to Host House Guests Without Going Crazy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-host-house-guests-without-going-crazy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="hostess" title="hostess" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ben Franklin (or whoever actually said it) was right: Fish and house guests stink after three days. Having other people in your personal space can be stressful, no matter how much you like them or how otherwise close you feel to them. With the holidays upon us, it&#39;s time to reflect a little bit on the mixed blessing of the house guest and how <em>you</em> can survive the impending invasion. (See also: <a href="">15 Tips for Hosting House Guests</a>)</p> <h2>Preparing for Your Guests</h2> <p>Like anything else, preparing for house guests the right way can go a long way toward making it easier for you to stay sane.</p> <h3>Get Your House in Order</h3> <p>Try not to have any outstanding errands when your house guests arrive. This will just create an additional layer of stress. (See also: <a href="">Got Company? 10 Areas to Clean</a>)</p> <h3>Prepare Their Necessities</h3> <p>If there&#39;s a guest bathroom, make sure that it is well stocked. Try to anticipate needs in advance to allow for an easy transition.</p> <h3>Give Them a Place to Sit</h3> <p>Putting a chair and a lamp in the guest bedroom makes it more likely that they will go there to take time for themselves &mdash; and get out of your hair.</p> <h3>Tell Them Things to Do</h3> <p>You might not be able to play tour guide, but you can play travel agent, giving them a prepared list of activities going on during their stay.</p> <h3>Give Them Instructions</h3> <p>A small set of instruction manuals, things like how to use appliances or remote controls, make it less likely that guests will bother you with questions.</p> <h2>When They Arrive</h2> <p>When your guests arrive you can make things easier for the rest of the trip with just a few simple steps. (See also: <a href="">How to Be the Host With the Most</a>)</p> <h3>Take Their Things</h3> <p>Taking their things to their room allows you to put everything they have in one place, rather than allowing it to spread out over the whole house.</p> <h3>Give Them the Tour</h3> <p>Show them around your house so that they know where everything is.</p> <h3>Serve a Snack and Cocktails</h3> <p>A light snack and cocktails are a great way to make sure that everyone is in a great mood and the stay starts out on the right foot. (See also: <a href="">Quick Snacks for Unexpected Guests</a>)</p> <h2>During Their Stay</h2> <p>Here&#39;s the meat of the visit: Their stay. A long stay can be a difficult thing, but attention to some small details can make it go a lot smoother.</p> <h3>Put Them to Work</h3> <p>When a house guest asks if he or she can help with dinner, don&#39;t give them some vague direction that you&#39;d appreciate help. Instead, tell them that you want them to chop onions or something else specific.</p> <h3>Invite Other Friends Over</h3> <p>If your house guests are coming for a longer stay &mdash; where &quot;longer&quot; means more than 36 hours &mdash; invite some of your local friends and family over for a big dinner.</p> <h3>Inquire Into a Longer Stay</h3> <p>You&#39;re not in college anymore, so couchsurfing is for family members only. If someone is staying with you for more than a couple of days ask why and in a way that is polite, yet pointed, so they perhaps start looking for the nearest Motel 6.</p> <h2>Dealing With Problems</h2> <p>Have a problem guest? Here&#39;s how to work it out with a minimum of muss and fuss. (See also: <a href="">Simple Rules of Excellent Houseguest Etiquette</a>)</p> <h3>The Slob</h3> <p>Be apologetic and call yourself a &quot;total neat freak,&quot; while directly informing your guest that you need him to clean up after himself.</p> <h3>The Overstayer</h3> <p>This is one of the trickier ones to work out and why it&#39;s best to get a firm timetable on how long the person plans to stay &mdash; before they arrive. The best way to deal with someone that you fear might overstay their welcome is to give them chores &mdash; take out the garbage, do the dishes, etc. Be firm about the limits of your hospitality.</p> <h3>The Couch Potato</h3> <p>Got someone who comes to visit and just sits on your couch all day? Give them ideas for what to do, things that are fun that will get them out of your hair for a bit. In a worst-case scenario, just hope that they aren&#39;t staying with you for that long.</p> <p>Whether you have the best or the worst house guests in the world, these simple tips will dramatically improve your quality of life when your home becomes a hostel.</p> <p><em>How do you manage a house full of guests?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Host House Guests Without Going Crazy" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nicholas Pell</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home guests hosting houseguests Fri, 20 Dec 2013 11:24:38 +0000 Nicholas Pell 1099978 at Best Money Tips: Save on Wedding Expenses as a Guest <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-save-on-wedding-expenses-as-a-guest" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Save on Wedding Expenses as a Guest" title="Save on Wedding Expenses as a Guest" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on saving on wedding expenses as a guest, strategies to lower your healthcare costs, and making extra money this holiday season.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">6 Tips to Save on Wedding Expenses as a Guest</a> &mdash; Are you attending a wedding as a guest? Save on expenses by splitting costs with someone else. [Money Crashers]</p> <p><a href="">It's Open Enrollment Season! 4 Strategies to Lower Your Healthcare Costs</a> &mdash; Want to lower your healthcare costs? Consider enrolling in a high-deductible plan. [Credit Sesame]</p> <p><a href="">5 Ways to Make Extra Money this Holiday Season</a> &mdash; To make extra money this holiday season, decorate someone's house. [Bargaineering]</p> <p><a href="">Real Estate 101: Keeping Good Tenants</a> &mdash; If you want to keep your good tenants, do not use month to month leases. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="">Totally Free Gifts To Give This Holiday Season</a> &mdash; This holiday season, give the gift of freshly baked cupcakes or a clean home. [SavvySugar]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">5 Ways to Make Your Resume Stand Out</a> &mdash; If you want your resume to stand out, add quirky accomplishments. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="">6 Great Stocks You've Never Heard Of</a> &mdash; Have you ever heard of Air Methods or American Vanguard stocks? [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href=";ref=bfv">What you need for a 'can-do' kitchen</a> &mdash; Keep cans of soup and tomatoes in your kitchen. [MSN Money]</p> <p><a href="">Diabetic Freebies 2012</a> &mdash; In honor of American Diabetes Month, CVS is offering free health screenings. [Mr. Free Stuff]</p> <p><a href="">10 Tips to Get Your Child to Open Up</a> &mdash; To get your child to open up to you, play &quot;two truths and a false.&quot; [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Save on Wedding Expenses as a Guest" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living best money tips expenses guests wedding Mon, 12 Nov 2012 10:36:46 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 955723 at Quick Pantry Snacks for Unexpected Guests <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/quick-pantry-snacks-for-unexpected-guests" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Guests and snacks" title="Guests and snacks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="155" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you live in a city like New York, unexpected guests are uncommon. It&rsquo;s hard enough getting people to come to my uptown condo with an invitation (city-dwellers tend not to leave their own neighborhoods), so it&rsquo;s a rare occasion when I&rsquo;m surprised by someone popping by unannounced.</p> <p>The suburbs are a different story. For some reason, suburbanites think it&rsquo;s A-OK to hop in the SUV, roll up to someone&rsquo;s home, and knock on the door just because they were &ldquo;in the neighborhood.&rdquo; Call me crazy, but I think that&rsquo;s strange. In fact, if you pulled into my driveway without calling first, I would pretend that I wasn&rsquo;t home, mostly because you&rsquo;re being creepy.</p> <p>Either way, we&rsquo;re all bound to host impromptu guests at some point or another, whether it&rsquo;s the weirdo PTA president from your son&rsquo;s school wanting to discuss the bake sale or your husband&rsquo;s work colleague who needs to kill some time before an event nearby. So you can rise to every occasion, here are some quick snack ideas from your pantry (with a few fridge staples mixed in) to satisfy those last-minute (and, hopefully, wanted) callers. (See also: <a href="">Stretching Meals for Unexpected Guests</a>)</p> <h3>PB&amp;J Bites</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s something about a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich that makes long-buried memories flood right back. Especially if it&rsquo;s on white bread &mdash; which, apparently, nobody eats anymore. To take this old-school classic to the next level for company, use star-shaped cookie cutters to cut out bite-sized pieces of bread that you can slather with a nutty spread and grown-up jams like blackberry or raspberry. Just don&rsquo;t forget to make use of the scraps. Let the unused bread and crust go stale before putting it into a food processor to make homemade breadcrumbs or chopping the pieces into chunks for fresh salad croutons. If you&rsquo;re feeling lazy, at least feed it to the birds.</p> <h3>Doctored-Up Popcorn</h3> <p>Dressing up <a href="">popcorn</a> couldn&rsquo;t be quicker or easier. After three minutes in the microwave, top it with melted butter and Old Bay for a spicy, crab-seasoned kick (a fave that harkens back to my Baltimore roots), or toss it with black pepper and grated Parmesan for a tangy, cheesy kick. Want a little sweetness to balance out the salt? Toss plain popcorn with Milk Duds &mdash; a trick I learned from a lady at a movie theater once. Surprisingly good.</p> <h3>Trail Mix</h3> <p>Get rid of bottom-of-the-jar nuts, raisins, dried fruits, M&amp;Ms, and granola for a hodgepodge of flavor that&rsquo;s surprisingly filling. FYI &mdash; whole cashews and Craisins together are quite the combination.</p> <h3>Sliced Apples and Nutella<o:p></o:p></h3> <p><o:p>Just slice the apples</o:p> (<o:p>and squirt them with lemon juice so they don&rsquo;t brown) and serve them alongside a ramekin of Nutella for a fresh-fruit-and-hazelnut appetizer. Other variations could include melted chocolate </o:p>&mdash;<o:p> semi-sweet chips melt down in minutes in a double boiler </o:p>&mdash;<o:p> or a homemade caramel sauce that can be made by boiling a can of condensed milk for three hours.</o:p></p> <h3>Ritz Cracker Mini-Pizzas</h3> <p>When I took Home Economics in middle school, this was one of the first items we made; latchkey kids need to eat, after all. Top the crackers with a dollop of pizza or pasta sauce, a small handful of cheese, and any other toppings you have on hand. Pop the mini-pizzas in a 400&deg;F oven for a few minutes. Few ingredients, lots of flavor.</p> <h3>Turkey and Cheddar Triscuits</h3> <p>It's as fast as it sounds. Line up the crackers and top with a squirt of Dijon or deli mustard and thin squares of sharp cheddar &mdash; or <em>your</em> favorite cheese &mdash; and a half-slice of turkey. A little tip &mdash; either put the finished product in the fridge until the guests arrive or make five minutes before their ETA. You don&rsquo;t want the fresh meat and cheese to dry out; it&rsquo;s unappetizing.</p> <h3>Jell-O Mold</h3> <p><o:p></o:p>When I would stay with my grandmother on the weekends, she always had fresh Jell-O on hand, which is why I&rsquo;m partial to it. I prefer it plain &mdash; maybe some Cool Whip on top &mdash; but company won&rsquo;t be impressed by that. They will, however, give you props if you spike lime gelatin with booze and toss in some pomegranate seeds or cranberries to create a sweet and sinful treat for the eyes and mouth. It takes two minutes to make and about four hours to set.</p> <h3>Pudding Pops</h3> <p>A great summertime treat. Prepare instant chocolate pudding (in about three minutes) and put the mixture, with sticks, in the freezer for a few hours to harden. Bill Cosby himself couldn&rsquo;t do it better.</p> <h3>Tortilla Chips and Salsa Velveeta</h3> <p>There&rsquo;s a block of Velveeta in my pantry, but I can&rsquo;t remember why I bought it. Unless I can recall, I plan to cut it into cubes, melt it down, and mix it with salsa served along chips. An oldie but still a goodie.</p> <h3>Spiced Honey Pretzels</h3> <p>When I raided my pantry to come up with these snacks, I found a bag of pretzels. In their regular, straight-from-the-bag state, pretzels are nothing special. Enter Google, which has a million and one recipes that take this figure-friendly chip alternative to the next level. I particularly like this recipe for <a href="">Spiced Honey Pretzels</a>. Onion and chili powders marry with the sticky-sweet bees' treat to create a crunchy, no-guilt carb fix.</p> <h3>Garlic Pita Chips With Marinara Sauce</h3> <p>If you have pita bread at home, cut the rounds into quarters, and toss with olive oil, a pinch of salt, dried Italian herbs, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Bake the triangles at 450&deg;F for five minutes or until golden and crispy. Serve with warmed pizza or pasta sauce.</p> <h3>Marinated Olives</h3> <p>This <a href="">olive recipe</a> combines lemon with garlic, olive oil, and rosemary. Assorted olives should rest in the mixture for at least an hour so the flavors can properly combine.</p> <h3>Spinach/Ranch Dip</h3> <p>Commercials are fantastic, albeit dangerous. Earlier this year &mdash; probably around <a href="">Super Bowl</a> time &mdash; Hidden Valley Ranch advertised its packet of ranch powder, found in the salad dressing aisle, as a spinach dip. All you&rsquo;ll need is a block of frozen spinach, a large container of sour cream and the ranch powder. It&rsquo;s a speedy recipe, but it does require some fridge time because frozen spinach usually needs to be boiled first, which is quite important to remember; you want to give your guests a light snack, not E. Coli.</p> <h3>Pasta Salad</h3> <p>At any given time there are nine boxes of pasta in my pantry. In the Sunday circulars, there are often coupons for Barilla and other brands, so I stock up. To make an off-the-cuff pasta salad, boil your favorite shape and toss with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh or dried basil, and Italian dressing or pesto sauce. Chill for two hours for a light and filling snack.</p> <p><em>Have go-to snacks that you make for unexpected guests? Let me know what they are in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Quick Pantry Snacks for Unexpected Guests" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink General Tips cheap snacks guests pantry party Thu, 21 Jul 2011 10:36:16 +0000 Mikey Rox 629104 at How to Host a Traveler: 13 Tips to Keep it Safe, Easy, and Cheap <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-host-a-traveler-13-tips-to-keep-it-safe-easy-and-cheap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couch surfer sleeping in photo" title="couch surfer sleeping in" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="168" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Here at Wise Bread, we know that couch-sharing services, such as <a href="">Couch Surfing</a>, can save you money when traveling. We have also heard that hosting travelers through these services is a great way to meet new people, get in the spirit of travel, and even <a href="">make some money</a>. As good as this sounds, many have reservations about hosting strangers in their home. After all, house guests can be frustrating, expensive, and even dangerous.</p> <p>But it doesn't have to be this way. Here are some tips to help make hosting travelers safer, easier, and even cheaper.</p> <h2>Keep it Safe</h2> <p>Letting strangers into your home is a frightening thing for many people. Here are six tips for <a href="">making it safer</a>:</p> <p><strong>Start slow:</strong> You are not required to hand over the key to your home and welcome a wandering stranger with open arms. If the idea makes you uneasy, start slow and only accept invitations for coffee, dinner, or a short tour of your town. Once you have met several friendly people, you may decide that having them spend a night at your place is not such a big deal. If so, arrange to meet at a neutral location, like a cafe or the library, first. If you don't like the looks of things, politely decline your invitation.</p> <p><strong>Don't be a stranger:</strong> If socializing with a stranger makes you cringe, then do everything you can to make sure the person is not a complete stranger when you meet in person. Begin by creating a complete and detailed profile on the couch-sharing network of your choice. List your interests and favorite activities, and include something about your habits. If you get up early for work and like to turn-in with the sun, state this explicitly in your profile. If you don't like guests using your computer, say so up front.</p> <p><strong>Get more information:</strong> When requests come in, check the traveler's profile. If it raises questions, don't be afraid to ask for clarification. Ask questions and get to know the person electronically before you meet in person. Most sites also offer the ability to gather information from references and the traveler's previous hosts.</p> <p><strong>Set boundaries:</strong> Again, you are not required to hand over the keys to your home. If you don't want to leave a stranger there alone, explain that the house will only be open when you are there, and that your guest must find a way to occupy his or herself while you are out during the day. Be clear about times you will and will not be there and offer your cellphone number for emergencies.</p> <p><strong>Don't do it alone:</strong> Involving a friend can make you feel a lot more comfortable. When you go to meet your guest at a neutral location, bring a friend along for support. At the very least, let someone nearby know that you will be hosting a guest and that you may contact them in the event you begin to feel uncomfortable.</p> <p><strong>Don't be afraid to say no:</strong> If you do not feel right about the person or the process at any point, from the initial request to the second day of the visit, do not be afraid to say no.</p> <h2>Make it Easy</h2> <p>If you decide to host a traveler, everything, hopefully, will go smoothly. Unfortunately, having house guest can sometimes be a hassle. Try these five tips for making it as easy as possible:</p> <p><strong>Orient your guest:</strong> When your guest first arrives, take the time to give a tour of your home. This is a good way to show the person where everything is, but it is also a subtle way of explaining anything that might be off limits. Rather than handing your guest a list of rules, mention your restrictions as you pass by. &quot;This is my bedroom, you won't need to go in there...&quot;</p> <p><strong>Provide some basic supplies:</strong> Some people leave things like guest-sized shampoo, toothpaste, and other basic necessities in plain view, keeping their personal items stowed away, while sharing their bathroom with a guest. More important, is showing your guest where to find some basic cleaning supplies, like a broom, mop, sponge, and so on, in case they accidentally make a mess.</p> <p><strong>Give them space:</strong> Most travelers participating in home-sharing programs look forward to getting to know their hosts, so expressing in interest in spending time with your guest shouldn't be a problem. Giving them space for their things, especially if you live in an apartment, might be. Still, it is important to clear a space for their luggage and even offer a basket or some shelf space to use. This helps prevent a backpack full of dirty clothes from being emptied across your living room floor.</p> <p><strong>Encourage activity outside the house:</strong> Be ready to suggest things to do in your town. Having a map ready and a list of your favorite places to eat and hangout shows your guest that they should be out exploring, not in your house, sitting around.</p> <p><strong>Ask for a hand:</strong> Finally, don't be afraid to ask for some help around the house. Most guests are very appreciative of the effort hosts go to house them and will be happy to lend a hand.</p> <h2>Save Some Money</h2> <p>Both <a href="">Wise Bread</a> and <a href="">The Simple Dollar</a> have great tips for saving money when guests are visiting. Still, hosting travelers is unique and there some special tips that can help save you money.</p> <p><strong>Buy toiletries in bulk:</strong> Specifically, toilet paper. It's the one item you can count on guests using. If you like to offer smaller items like shampoo, consider buying a large bottle at the bulk store and filling a smaller bottle before guests arrive.</p> <p><strong>Ask your guest to cook dinner:</strong> Most guests will be happy to make something from their home country. Offer your services as a &quot;prep chef&quot; to ensure they can find the things they need in your kitchen.</p> <p>Hosting a traveler is often a wonderful and enlightening experience. It allows you to learn about a new part of your country or the world and even make a new friend. Let us know how it works out in the comments.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Host a Traveler: 13 Tips to Keep it Safe, Easy, and Cheap" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">David DeFranza</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Lifestyle Travel budget travel couch surfing guests house guests safety Thu, 12 Feb 2009 13:22:03 +0000 David DeFranza 2831 at Stretching Meals for Unexpected Guests <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stretching-meals-for-unexpected-guests" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Guest knocking" title="Knock" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I think I’ve lucked out — plenty of my friends live in my immediate vicinity. One even lives in the next apartment building over. This does mean, however, that people are in the habit of dropping in all the time, since they always ‘happen to be in the area.’</p> <p>I don’t mind the visits. I enjoy having my friends over. But, as a good hostess, I always seem to wind up inviting them to stay for lunch or dinner, or offering them a snack. This can be a bit of a problem — I generally plan my meals in advance and only have an appropriate amount of meat or another item defrosted.</p> <p>In general, I try to avoid throwing out my entire plan for dinner. Even if I have to change it fairly dramatically, my goal is always to stick to the same general ingredients. In part, it’s to avoid changing my meal plan, but it’s also due to general stubbornness on my part. I dislike the idea of going out to dinner just to save work for the cook. After all, I enjoy cooking or I wouldn’t have offered.</p> <p>I’ve had to get creative on how to stretch dinner for two into dinner for four. The obvious solution is usually to divide the main dish into small portions and add another side dish. In most cases, this can work pretty well. I do rely on some other methods for stretching out food, though, especially if I want to serve more of a main dish. How you extend a main dish can really depend on the meal itself. If, for instance, your entrée relies on a heavy sauce, you may be able to get away with just adding to the sauce and tossing in a few more vegetables. I’ve done it with curries quite often.</p> <p>Slicing can be the key to stretching many ‘one-piece’ dinners. If, for instance, I was serving grilled chicken with rice and veggies, I could slice up the chicken in the kitchen and pile it on top of the rice. Voila! It’s the same meal but the rice is now part of the entrée, making it easy to serve larger portions. </p> <p>I often use appetizers to stretch my dinner menu. You can treat appetizers as simply the action of a good host — they can entertain guests while you focus on getting dinner on the table — but they’re useful in making sure that a small main course is sufficient. I do try to keep it simple, though. I’ll set out a basket of bread or some fresh veggies and often leave it at that. </p> <p>It’s important to remember that any meal can be stretched, as long as you’re able to add a little more food into the equation. </p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Stretching Meals for Unexpected Guests" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Thursday Bram</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Food guests stretch Thu, 14 Feb 2008 15:38:10 +0000 Thursday Bram 1794 at