Refreshments for Unexpected Guests??

Julie_MI_Z5January 4, 2003

What do you keep on hand to serve unexpected guests--the ones who don't call before they stop by? I feel obligated to serve something, but with a billion pre-teen and teenaged boys in and out of this house every day, we can't seem to keep the pantry stocked.


P.S. I wouldn't dream of visiting someone without calling first, and I sure wish everyone felt that way!

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For the younger set, (my daughters' friends) we keep on hand lots of fruit. Green apples, grapes, and bananas are what seem to go the fastest when they are over. We also keep lots of microwave popcorn. If we are in a pinch and the kids are in the mood for something sweet they can make rice krispy treats or brownies. We always have the fixin's for these. For drinks they have apple cider, bottled water, or soda to choose from.
For the older crowd we have on hand a sun dried tomato and olive relish that they can spread on crackers with cheese sliced to go with it. Jarred mango salsa is always available too. Our family eats all of these things so we usually have these in the pantry when surprise guests show up. For drinks the adults have the same choice as the kids with the addition of beer or wine. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   January 4, 2003 at 8:28AM
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I always keep a can of artichokes and a small jar of real Mayonnaise in the cupboard. In emergencies I drain and chop the artichokes, mix with a cup of the mayo and 1 cup of grated parmesan. Bake in the oven at 375 for 15 mins or so, until browned and bubbly and serve with crackers.

I also keep a box of frozen mini sausage rolls in the freezer. Easy to get ready in a pinch. I serve these with whatever sauce I have on hand.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2003 at 9:02AM
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I love it when people drop by! Normally i break out a bottle from the wine cellar, or serve mineral water and coffee or tea. If guests are hungry I'll cook up a pot of spaghetti, and serve with salad (things that most people usually have on hand). If we're just munching then I'll serve something sweet and something salty: cookies or pralines or I'll just walk to the corner bakery and pick up something. Other good choices are olives, baby corn, pickles, and other little foods that keep long and store easily. Use your imagination and anything you might have laying around!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2003 at 9:38AM
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I also love it when people drop in.....
I always have cheese, crackers and a bottle of for sure, and I try to keep some of my home made biscotti around. When I had the influx of teens, pop corn was my favorite thing to put's cheap, easy and filling.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 4, 2003 at 10:17AM
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Depending on the taste of the unexpected guest, either a bottle of wine is handy or some gourmet coffee. A saralee cheesecake is also always in my freezer.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2003 at 1:33PM
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I tried the Saralee cheesecake in the freezer idea, but it never lasted more than a day... ;)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2003 at 6:50PM
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This was funny to read... I think I figured out part of the reason we're having a problem!

We don't drink coffee, tea, or wine (personal preference, we just don't care for those things, so our guests don't expect those). We rarely have real cheese much less cheesecake(trying to cut down on fat and cholesterol), we don't keep olives or pickles (high in sodium), we don't have anything with sausage (same reasons as cheese and olives). Fresh fruit and salad makings don't last long here, and if we had pre-made sauce in the freezer for spaghetti, we would have eaten it already to get out of the endless chicken-fish-chicken-fish rotation. NO WONDER WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!

Now... if I could find a way to put boneless-skinless chicken breasts on a cracker with a carrot garnish, we would be all set! LOL

    Bookmark   January 5, 2003 at 8:32PM
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IMO, you aren't obligated to feed guests who stop by unannounced, and they probably don't really expect it. I'd offer a beverage and let it go at that. :) If nothing else, you can put on your most regretful manner and say "wow, I really wish I'd known you were coming by. I could have prepared us a snack."

    Bookmark   January 6, 2003 at 1:15AM
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Unless you're like weed and can't ignore the cheesecake in the freezer LOL, when company comes, I don't worry about my diet. With DH diabetic, we don't eat sweets either, but it's his custom from Puerto Rico, and mine from being raised in the south, to always be prepared for company, even though like Renee says, you're not actually obligated to.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2003 at 10:00AM
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I agree with Renee. If guests are unannounced I don't feel compelled to serve them anything except a drink.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2003 at 11:08AM
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Well, I do feel I need to have something on hand. Remember, just because you & yours don't eat some things-you can still serve it to your guests. I ALWAYS have a brick of extra sharp white cheese & crackers on hand-microwave popcorn, peanuts & I also keep this is stock-which doesn't spoil and takes 10 minutes to fix!
1 glass jar of dried beef rounds (in case where the bacon, hot dogs are in the store)
1 4 oz pkg cream cheese
1 jar miniature sweet gherkin pickles

When company arrives-pull cheese out to soften.
Open glass jar of dried beef, cut pickles in half lengthways. Spread each round w/the cheese, add a pickle half & roll up. Done & delicious!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2003 at 8:34PM
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Sharon--Good idea, but ridding our house of high fat/cholesterol/sodium items was due to health resaons, not choice. My husband (the one with the health concerns) would gobble up the ingredients you mentioned the moment they appeared in the kitchen!

I like Renee's idea... maybe the guests will get the hint and CALL first next time! (I always resent being caught in "lounging" clothes, LOL)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2003 at 10:03AM
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I agree with Renee, when guests come unannounced, there's no reason to offer a meal. Besides, in my experience, people don't just drop by during meal times anyway.
I offer wine or coffee depending on the hour, and some fruit if I have any.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2003 at 7:22AM
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We live in the sticks so unannouced guests are rarely a problem. BUT, just in case I always have a good loaf of Italian or crusty French bread in the freezer (it freezes great and whose gonna grab at THAT when they have the munchies?). It thaws in a flash in the microwave. Slice it in small rounds, rub with garlic and toast it. Serve with whatever cheese you have on hand or get out the good flavored olive oil and dip it. Serve with a few black/green olives and a glass of decent wine. DONE! All of this stuff is usually kept as staples nowadays and it does great in a pinch. Plus, you don't really have to worry about someone eating all the green olives as munchies. Imagination goes along way when topping toasted bread slices so grab whatever you have on hand and you'd be amazed at what you can come up with. All my friends think I'm very continental when I serve this stuff but I don't tell them how easy it is and FAST!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2003 at 3:17PM
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TREKaren - I know what you mean. I'm also from the South and it's definitely ingrained into us to offer something, but I think a beverage fits the bill. Of course we were also taught to call first. :)

But let's put the shoe on the other foot now. I had it drilled into my head that if a hostess has prepared a snack, the polite thing to do is eat it. So, even though the unannounced guest has already shown a lack of manners by not dropping in unannounced, they may still have enough manners left to attempt politeness and now have to eat something that they may not even want. So the host has rushed around trying to put something together and feels that s/he was compelled to do so, they guest doesn't even want anything or is presented with something they would never choose to eat and feels compelled to do soÂand everyone puts on a stiff smile and forced politeness Not a fun situation.

And having been faced with one too many improvised snacks that were definitely suffering from either too long in a freezer or were not something I would ever voluntarily eat, there's a point where politeness meets the gag reflex and the gag reflex wins.

IÂll stick to my guns.:) In the end it is much more pleasant for everytone to either express regret that you were not prepared to entertain and offer a beverage. OrÂyou could always do what my aunt used to do  when unannounced person shows up, grab your purse and a jacket and act like you were just leaving the house. LOL!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2003 at 7:38PM
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Ohhh...I'll never forget my first trip to Puerto Rico to meet DH's parents.

It was 9 at night, and his mom offered me coffee. Espresso.

I said a polite, Thank you but no thanks.

Oh my goodness, the looks I got from his family!! I learned that even if you only take a few sips, darn it you better accept the offered beverage!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2003 at 8:18AM
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Renee, We've been known to do that "we were just leaving" routine when people stop by that we'd rather not spend time with at that particular moment, LOL. One time my husband drove around the block when he saw the car in our driveway. We're still laughing about that years later.

Add me to the list of guests who hate being force-fed yucky food!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2003 at 8:49AM
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I love guests. Expected or unexpected it doesn't really matter to me. Just stop by any time. I don't mind people stopping by at dinner time, we just get more plates and make room at the table.
For years we set an extra place at the table for the unexpected could be entertaining angels unaware!
I think we'll start that back up that our dining room table has stopped moving around the house! The kids loved it, the idea that the extra plate is there for anyone who wants to eat...and again the idea that the person could be an angel!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2003 at 5:16PM
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What a nice custom, Kris....
I always welcome drop ins, but never thought to set a place "just in case".
Somehow, we always know those who we can drop on on any time....and those we have to call and set an appointment. I find as an acquaintance becomes a friend, drop in visits are more usual.
I love drop ins...I don't feel that my house has to be immaculate, nor that I have to be dressed in anything but my usual....and I don't feel that I have to have fresh baked cookies, or a fancy hors d'ouvre...If i have invited someone....then it's a party and they are company....and I feel I have to fuss a bit.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 3, 2003 at 1:18AM
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Why, feed them whatever you would have eaten, only make more of it LOL!

I have put out plates with baby carrots and celery cut into sticks, wedges of green pepper. Lettuce leaves rolled up (leaf lettuce). Most people don't like to eat veggies without dip, so I mix fat free cottage cheese, lowfat sour cream and lowfat mayo. Shake in some parsley, onion and garlic powder, and a little powdered bouillon and stir well. Or, set out a small bowl of your favorite bottled salad dressing...even "Italian"! And don't mind if it is lowfat or no fat or salt free...whatever you eat you can serve.

I won't tell you how I know, but a roomful of adults are just as pleased with tortillas rolled up around mashed canned beans and salsa or even PB&J (use reduced fat peanut butter and sugar free fruit spread if you like)...slice and arrange on a plate.

I will admit we too have problems in the beverage area. We don't really drink soda so don't usually have it in the house. We might have juice boxes (if DD hasn't drained them all in a day). We always have instant coffee and tea bags on hand though. On cold days I have whipped up coca drink using cocoa, whitener powder, skim milk, sugar, and vanilla. And don't tell.....I have heated chocolate flavoured soy milk and called it "hot chocolate".

We always have cold filtered water in the fridge too. My biggest faux pas is forgetting to offer drinks to people. I don't mean to be rude, it's just I don't think about it...I am not "thirsty" person.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 11:15AM
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Coffee, tea and herb tea (hot or iced in season), cocoa, and ice water. Sometimes I have food things ready, sometimes not. I generally KNOW when someone is going to come visit and can get stuff ready before they arrive. Surprises are rare.

Lee AKA Fireraven9
If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in the water. -Â Â Loren Eisley

    Bookmark   February 6, 2003 at 12:43PM
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I definitely agree with Renee's ideas.
I try to keep a cake in the freezer..but with DH, its usually gone soon.
Never would we drop-in without calling. Not even with our married children; and they know to call us first.
What if someone is not feeling well, and is sleeping?
A few years ago,new friends of ours kept saying to stop in when we're in the neighborhood. One day, we did (but called first) Her husband we found out was working in his garage..and when he heard we would be there soon, took a shower. Being a bit deaf, he didn't know we had arrived and was sitting in the livingroom. He suddenly came into the room wearing his undershorts..turned right around and went back into the bedroom..came out wearing clothes. We all pretended it didn't happen. (would have been funny if he wasn't wearing anything......)
Anyway, after that, I wont visit anyone without an invitation.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2003 at 10:30AM
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I try to keep on hand some powered dip mix, mayo (which most people always have), sour cream and crackers. The dip mixes I use ( not sure if I can mention names...I am not trying to sell anything :) ) is by Hallaway Farms which is in Vermont. Also Stonewall Kitchens makes great powdered dip mixes. Anyway this is very easy and yummy.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2003 at 11:23AM
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I learned this from Martha Stewart, keep a bag of pistachios in your freezer, just pour them in a bowl, put an empty bowl beside it for the shells and serve pop, beer,ice tea, or whatever you have...

    Bookmark   November 23, 2004 at 1:09AM
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Did you learn this from Martha Stewart before or after she went to prison?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2004 at 7:50PM
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Now it's vending machine finger sandwiches and Little Debbie pastries from the commissary...
bless her heart...

    Bookmark   November 25, 2004 at 1:07AM
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Ohhhhhhhhh not true!@ I hear she's busy making crab-apple jelly.

Poor Martha.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2004 at 11:26PM
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One thing that I have noticed since we moved back to TX from MA...People just drop by...they don't even think about whether they are welcome or not...they just expect that they will be and truthfully I have never known a time at my house that they were not...If you are busy, no matter what's going on, they will be helping out if necessary even if it's working on a hot water heater or digging a ditch or leveling an RV....they pitch in...

Here in our area though a must have is beer...any of the male neighbors and even a couple of females are likely to stop by to say hello or just to see what's going on...they are not expecting food but they'll always be expecting a beer...

During my stay in one...not one single person would presume to stop by unannounced except for a neighbor who had a quick question of some kind and that wouldn't be to visit......but here in TX...quite the opposite is true...anyone might stop by at any time of the morning or's nice...welike it that way...there's always something to eat in the sausage...and since I live with an Italian I always have sauce in the freezer and can put a plate of pasta on the table before you can figure out you're meant to stay for dinner...that's just the way it is in our part of TX.

and just to prove my point....when there is a big sale on beer...gotta be in the bottles, word spreads fast in the neighbrohoon...better get to HEB today ...they have Bud light for $11.99 a case.

I lived in MA for over 5 years and not once in that time did any friend ever drop by without calling first...

    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 7:12PM
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You know this depends on how you feel about hosting and guests, and you cultural background. I love guests, don't mind unexpected ones, (at reasonable hours) and would never dream of not offering at least something. I have a nice glass pitcher and some matching glasses that I got on sale at the end of the summer. I also got a neat big tray from a friend. At the very least, I could fill the pitcher up with ice and add water and serve ice water. I understand about not wanting to keep fattening foods around for pantry raiders, since I'm one myself. Popcorn is a good thing to keep around, since it is low in fat and isn't something you can just grab and munch, the bane of the grazers. A can of frozen orange juice and a small can of limeade, mixed together makes a very nice drink, again, not something a person with the munchies is apt to break into. I keep herb tea on hand for guests, and coffee too. I also keep spaghetti and sauce in the pantry, this always makes a meal in a minute that most people like. And I almost always have a bag of prewashed carrots in the fridge and some yogurt and mayo for a lowfat dip. But really, most people would be happy with a beverage, even ice water. I just like to serve tea in the colder months.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 12:40PM
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Lpinkmountain, I'm not so sure it depends on how you feel about guests. I *love* to entertain, and am happy to welcome my guests ... when I am expecting them. In general, if I'm not expecting guests, I simply do not respond to knocks on the door. But I live near Boston and, as Ruthie G said, no one just stops by in Boston without calling. I don't need a lot of notice. Fifteen minutes are enough, if I want to have visitors. Sometimes I don't, and I don't have a problem telling a friend that today isn't good, but let's set a date for this week.

As for refreshments, I generally offer just a drink to unexpected guests (who have called beforehand). I do usually have cheese and crackers, and that's easy to prepare.

I remember being in the south once, visiting a friend. She wanted to stop by a friend's house so I could meet him, but I didn't want to just stop by because it would be rude. Culture clash.

Sometimes, I think we should all go back to the idea of receiving uninvited guests during specific hours. We could all give out calling cards with our at home hours specified. "Miss Rebecca McBride, at home Tuesdays 2:00-4:00.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 4:58AM
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Unexpected guests.........gotta love em. I do actually. I love having friends stop by - lets me know they're thinking of me.

One time, it was about 7:30 pm, after dinner, time to relax and watch some tv and hubs went in to take his shower. While hubs was in the shower, our daughter's boyfriend came over and was in our living room watching tv with us.

Well as hubs was getting dressed in our bedroom right off the livig room, he "let one go" and it could be heard not just in the living room, but all over the house. He didn't know the boyfriend was there!

You should have seen the kids face! hahaha! We still laugh at that to this day.

Now for snacks, microwave popcorn is a hit; pretzels and a small bowl of mustard to dip them in, nuts, I like to keep a can of smoked oysters in the pantry. THese are very good with crackers and sliced cheeses and maybe a sliced garlic dill pickle...makes a nice platter. We keep beer and sodas out in the garage fridge.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2005 at 4:05PM
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