• Holiday Entertaining: 5 of your Frequently-Asked Questions Answered

    Got relatives staying over for the holidays? Here are a few sticky situations you may find yourself in, and how to handle them.
    by Chinggay Labrador .
  • dinner host

    Photo from culturedseed.com

    Known for being one of the most accommodating people, Pinoys are always more than happy to welcome guests into their homes. The holidays are no exception, as flocks of balikbayan relatives fly home in December to celebrate the Filipino way -- with festivities starting  as early as September. Not only can the almost-daily parties make a dent on your entertaining schedule (not to mention the way you run the household day to day), but having to deal with Christmas and New Year stress while playing host to a slew of relatives can also make the busiest season of the year even busier.

    If you are planning to have family or friends over for the holidays, you may have to add a little more grunt work to the massive prep you’re doing for Christmas. Aside from shopping, wrapping gifts, and stocking the pantry with everything you’ll need for Misa de Gallo breakfasts, Noche Buena, Media Noche, and all the other parties in between, it’s a must to get your house guest-ready, whether your visitors are planning on staying for a few days or are extending their stay all the way past New Year.

    Architect and mom Ciel Tagaza tackles these frequently asked questions for hosts taking on more than their fair share of holiday fun this season.

    Q: “I’m taking in guests despite the fact that I’ve got kids and pets and don’t have the extra space. How can I make do with a cramped living situation?”

    A: Homes with spare bedrooms can easily accommodate guests. Whether or not you have the extra space, it’s good to have a few foldable mattresses or inflatable beds in your storage if you plan to take in guests. You can lay these temporary beds out on the bedroom floor for more sleeping space. If you don’t have a spare bedroom, have your kids room in with you in the master bedroom for the duration of your guests’ stay and have your visitors sleep in your child’s room. If you’re entertaining guests with young kids, childproof your home, especially the area where your guests will be staying in. Keep away breakable décor and anything that may prove to be hazardous to curious toddlers.

    Q: “I’m extremely careful about my personal items and don’t want my guests toying with them; the same goes with some of the food I have stowed in my refrigerator and pantry. How do I set them aside without looking overly protective or selfish?”

    A: Before your guests arrive, make sure you rearrange your pantry and personal effects. Store food items that you do not want touched in a locked or hidden cupboard and keep your personal things in an area that guests intuitively know are off-limits, such as the master bedroom. For perishable food that’s in your refrigerator, reserve a spot in the crisper or chiller meant especially for these items.

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    Q: “I’m staying with friends over the holidays, and I don’t want to inconvenience them in any way. How can I be a considerate guest?”

    A: Whether the household has help or not, be considerate by offering to help clean up the table and wash the dishes after meals. Make sure you keep the guest bedroom clean by fixing the linens and putting things back in order. Leave the room the way you found it when you first arrived —- spic and span. Making the bed daily, especially when you will be out of the house, is a great way to show your hosts that you respect their home. As a token of gratitude for their hospitality, it would be a nice gesture to leave the host family with a thoughtful gift or take them out to dinner.

    Q: “My guests are allergic to my furry pet. How can I re-orient my home so that everyone stays safe and my pet stays happy?”

    A: First of all, if you have guests coming over, it is important to inform them if you have pets at home. In your case, it is best to keep your pet outdoors temporarily during your guests’ stay (even if it is an indoor pet). Set up a cozy sleeping corner for your pet in the garage, backyard, or the garden. Vacuum the interior of the house, dust the furniture, and use freshly-washed sheets in the guest room to prevent any allergic reactions from happening.

    Q: “I don’t have an extra room to accommodate visiting relatives, but I don’t want to turn them away either. What can I do?”

    A: You can convert a spot like the living room into another sleeping area by rearranging the furniture, pushing center and side tables against the walls to open up floor space, and laying out air mattresses or futons. Add cozy touches such as a lamp and a few extra pillows. A welcome basket filled with snacks and goodies will make your guests feel extra special despite the cramped conditions. If your guests are here for a short weekend stay, you could also consider booking them in a budget hotel.


    Quick rules for playing host
    Always put your guests’ comfort first, follow these rules, and have a ball this holiday season.
    □ Do a general cleaning before they arrive.
    □ Offer to pick them up, or at least make sure they have the right address and contact information.
    □ Give them a set of spare keys.
    □ Take the couch so they can take the bed.
    □ Equip the guest bath well with toiletries and a fresh set of towels.
    □ Serve simple recipes that’ll cut down dishwashing and prep time.
    □ Let them know you had a good time hosting them.


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