Surprise! guests are coming

The love of your life has called from work and said he’ll be home early. Great! But there’s a catch. Six people from work will be coming over for dinner and what can you whip up?

After the fleeting images of a slow, painful death pass, you rack your brain. What’s thawed out? What’s in the freezer? What do I have time to cook for eight people? How do I get the house clean?

Start with dinner first. Do you have time to start thawing out the main course or is a trip to the store required? Take a quick glance through the cupboards and see what is on hand for salad, side dishes and dessert. Pull the ingredients out you will need or add them to the shopping list. Check to see that your salad dressings are up to date and full.

Run to the store.

Put the leaf salad together with fresh vegetables on hand.

Move on to a side dish. Will baked potatoes suffice or is a rice dish acceptable? Look for the rice box and a recipe on the side that’s easy to make if plain rice isn’t good enough. Pick a frozen vegetable and start thawing.

To save time, call the bakery and order dessert unless you already have one. Simple desserts to make would be Chocolate Mousse or Angel Food Cake. Good choices from the bakery include fancy cookies, cheese cake and cake. Call and instruct your loved one coming home early to stop at the bakery. And if needed, the liquor store to buy wine or alcohol needed that’s not on hand.

While the meat is thawing or cooking, make a pass through the house. Clean toys off the floor and furniture. Throw dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Close all doors to rooms which are not cleaned. Focus on the room where you will be eating and the bathroom. Give the bathroom a quick but thorough scrub. Wash the mirror and refill the soap dispenser. Set out extra toilet paper.

In the dining room, set a tablecloth. A simple basket, dried floral arrangement or candle will make a great centrepiece. Keep it simple to allow for conversation to take place back and forth across the table. Put out the place settings and check on the meat. Prepare it and stick in the oven so it will be ready in time. Write down how long the other side dishes need to be cooked and coordinate with the meat timing.

If you are comfortable enough, jump in the shower. Clean yourself up.

Give your significant other a dirty look and a kiss when they come home. Finish setting the table and cleaning the dining area. Head to the kitchen and assemble the salad. Nuke the vegetables. Hide any dishes that are no longer needed.

Turn on some music. Put the drinks on ice. Move the bakery dessert to your own tray. Light any candles.

Greet your guests as they all walk in the door. Dinner is ready and you are too! Be prepared to receive compliments on how easy you threw together dinner and how good it is! Little do they know how simple it can be.

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