There are many things I enjoy about living in the south and being married to a southern man. Part of that has been discovering and creating my own concept of what it means to be a hostess. Growing up in Texas, I always felt connected to the sense of “Southern Hospitality,” but my mom was a much less-conventional type of southern housewife. She didn’t like to cook, would rather fix the VCR than whip up breakfast and had a very literal “Make yourself at home” policy. She wanted guests to feel comfortable in the house, the kitchen, grab snacks as they pleased and never feel intrusive by digging through the pantry. Obviously, my love of cooking, baking and hosting easily set me apart from the ways of my mother. I’m much more like both of my grandmothers in those ways. When guests come over, I want the house to be filled with treats, surprises and a stocked pantry, ready for whatever may come.
I feel there are a handful of things that make a home ready to receive guests, and I put those ideas into practice this weekend, when we were fortunate enough to have some 4th of July weekend guests.
1. Enough breakfast to feed an army.
I recently received a waffle iron as a wedding gift, and love using it almost every weekend. Whether I make and freeze whole-wheat waffles to eat throughout the workweek, or surprise Southern Prince Charming with waffles on the weekend, it’s been amazing to use. I feel that having something delicious, fresh, and homemade to feed house guests adds a bit of hospitality to the day. My favorites are Hodgson Mills insta-bake whole grain waffles topped with fresh berries and powdered sugar, or the old-fashioned way, with a bit of warm syrup. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more adventurous, check out my post on Dutch Baby German Pancakes, which are a delicious departure from American breakfast staples.
2. Accessible coffee
I’m a coffee drinker. I love coffee, I need coffee, I WANT coffee. I don’t understand what sort of other-worldly power people have if they can wake up in the morning without the assistance of a sweet hot cup of liquid jump-start. I know that if I were a house guest and were to awake early, I would want coffee at my disposal. In keeping with that, and my mother’s “Make yourself at home” philosophy, I set up the coffee maker before going to bed, set out the sugar, Splenda, spoons, mugs, etc. and have it ready to go, should a guest want coffee before I come downstairs. If you’re a bit more formal, try a French press coffee maker, which again, is a bit special for guests, a fun brunch or another nice occasion.
3. Fresh flowers.
I feel this is self-explanatory, but fresh flowers really are a quick, affordable, beautiful way to freshen up any room. When I picture the beautiful guest rooms that grace the pages of Southern Living, I think of fresh flowers throughout a home. Whether it’s hydrangeas clipped from your garden, or a bouquet picked up from the local farmer’s market, fresh flowers are the way to go.
4. Something baked
Making food is one of my favorite ways to show hospitality, or love in general. When guests come, I love to have something freshly baked, just for them. Admittedly, I have to battle SPC to keep a cake un-cut or cookies un-sampled before guests arrive. Guests feel there is a little extra love when something is homemade and baked in their honor, and it makes a beautiful countertop display, next to the fresh flowers. A quick and easy rum cake does the trick, or something more festive can set the mood for the weekend. I plan to try out a red white and blue velvet cake (I’ll post later if it works out!) but if you’re looking for something simple, try a pound cake. This also can double as a coffee cake that guests can help themselves to if they need a little bite to eat to go along with their coffee, or as a midnight snack. Be sure to leave out some small plates and utensils so that they can help themselves!
I hope these tips help you to have a warm and wonderful home this July 4th weekend. Happy Independence Day, and happy hosting!