What to serve surprise holiday guests

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A well stocked home always has a store of what to serve surprise holiday guests

A well stocked home always has a store of what to serve surprise holiday guests

One of the greatest things about the holiday season is getting to connect with friends and loved ones you may not see enough of the rest of the year. But what if, in all of your holiday preparations, you have someone drop by unannounced?

Don’t be caught empty handed. Keep some goodies on hand ready to welcome the random caller at a moment’s notice.

The Hungry Traveler

When they show up at your door hungry, you?d best be prepared. Keep hard sausages and cheeses on hand to make an impromptu snack tray with the addition of a few rows of crackers.

If it?s dinner guests you may have miscounted, buy a few Cornish game hens to keep in the fridge for the big day, just in case. They are great for single servings, look elegant, and can be thrown into the freezer for another meal if you end up not needing them. You can also freeze and extra side or two, if you want to be super prepared.

For the rest of the time (we?ll call these the ?in between parties?), have a healthy stock of lunch meats in the fridge and a few handy loaves of French bread or the like. Frozen bread that pops right into the oven is a great backup. Even during the holidays, a quick sandwich is a welcome thing for hungry carolers and holiday shoppers.


To Their Good Health

This time of year, it is essential to keep a good supply of hardy, seasonal fruit on hand. Apples, oranges, pears, and pomegranates are all favorites for the fall and winter months, and grapes add a touch of jeweled sweetness to the mix. They make for beautiful edible centerpieces and keep much longer than their now-faded summer fruit sisters.

Besides, all that vitamin C keeps away the scurvy and the dreaded flu. You don’t want holiday guests falling sick on your watch, do you?

Feeling Snacky

Sometimes you don?t want to put out a whole spread. Sometimes it?s a quick drop in from friends before they?re off on other missions, or it?s smack dab between meals and all they want is a little something to tide them over. This is when you?ll be glad you stocked your pantry with all those handy finger foods. 

Keep out a bowl of nuts in their shells, accompanied with the necessary nutcrackers to release the meats from their casings. They make a rustic coffee table centerpiece, and feel festive even on those in between party days. Keep assorted popcorns and snack mixes (like the obligatory Chex mix) on hand. Offer dried fruit, like some oh so seasonal dried figs, cranberries, or crystallized ginger, along with handy quick breads that can be sliced and served as needed. And some sturdy carrot and celery sticks with a quick dip are always a welcome sight for the 3:00 snackies.

For Their Sweet Tooth

It?s the holidays. You can?t be caught without a little something sweet to offer whomever might cross your threshold. This is where all that holiday baking will pay off. Cookies keep in airtight containers for days or even weeks. Those soused fruitcakes and rum cakes can be nibbled on the whole season long. Certain pies do well in the fridge (some more than others, with a bias toward nut pies and mincemeat over fresh fruit pies for longer storage).

 Also, don’t forget to have some extra candies and candied things–fruits and nuts and pretzels, oh my!–stashed away for when you need just a little extra something to round out the festive fare.

To Wet the Whistle and Warm the Spirits

One rule of thumb?you can never send them away cold or thirsty. 

Keep the coffee pot ready, the tea kettle poised to boil, and some packets of hot cocoa, hot cider, and hot tea at the ready. And don?t forget the spirits. Again, it?s the holidays! This stuff never goes bad, and a few bottles of wine and some eggnog just ready to be spiked can send your guests along a little merrier than when they came.