The Spontaneous Invitation: 3 Tips for Last-Minute Hospitality

I'm a fan of spontaneously inviting people up to my apartment for a cup of tea or a glass of wine — or dinner, even. It says that I want to spend more time with them and that I don't want to wait, and it is a pleasant thing to be on the receiving end of this. But sometimes even though I want to invite someone up, I find myself hesitating. There are a number of reasons why, usually having to do with unpreparedness. Read on for a few tips on how to always be ready to do some impromptu entertaining.

1. The main reason why I sometimes hesitate to ask someone over is that I hadn't tidied up before I left my apartment. Of course, much depends on the ratio of untidiness to how well I know someone. With a good friend it's not as much of an issue as with someone I don't know very well. But still, the thought of unwashed breakfast dishes or towels on the bathroom floor can sometimes keep me mum.

Solution: Always build in 5 minutes of quick, basic tidying before you leave the house.

2. Another reason is that I haven't been to the supermarket and I don't have a thing in the house. Or so I think. It's important to remember that this isn't an elaborate dinner party and that people are usually happy with a few simple snacks. Often there are at least a few things you can throw together. A few simple cookies on a plate or a bowl of oranges are a nice offering.

Solution: Always have a few non-perishable nibbles on hand. Keep some almonds or other nuts in the freezer to quickly roast with a little oil and rosemary or pick up a few little jars of a favorite spread to stash in the cupboard. Packets of plain ginger cookies or Almondina biscuits store very well. Or suggest stopping on the way home for a bottle of wine or even some take out.

3. The third reason is time. This is a little harder as either you have the time or you don't. But sometimes it helps to reexamine your schedule and priorities. Maybe you don't have to finish your book club book tonight, for example.

Solution: Try breaking free of your schedule now and then!

The most important thing to remember is that this is about spending time together. People are usually very understanding if you can't provide them with an elaborate spread or if there are a few piles of unread mail here and there. Things are probably not that different at their house, so relax, enjoy, and continue the conversation!

Are you spontaneous, when it comes to inviting people into your home? Do you have any tips or advice for keeping it easy to ask someone over?

Related: Great Idea: Cheese Plate Jar for Company

(Image: Dana Velden)

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Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.