I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with family and friends. That time of year can be very stressful with shopping, cooking plus the added planning of impending guests coming to visit. It is the ideal time to fill your Highlands/Cashiers mountain home with the sights and sounds of family and friends. One of the great pleasures of owning a second or third home in the mountains is having a special mountain retreat to entertain those dear to you. During the holidays or anytime of the year, if you are expecting a handful of guests or just a few close friends, you need to prepare your home for your visitors. Here are a few tips you can use while entertaining or hosting overnight guests within your Highlands/Cashiers home.
When entertaining for family and friends, the focus doesn’t always have to be the food. Why not make some magic with your home décor instead? Setting up a variety of food stations throughout your home not only helps with the traffic flow; it’s a good excuse for added décor. A bowl of wine corks makes for an interesting display by the bar area or a cocktail station. For the dessert table, list the selections on a small chalkboard placed on an easel.
There are a number of ways to get creative when entertaining, like sprucing up your table settings, beginning with your centerpiece. While there’s nothing wrong with the usual floral arrangement, sometimes it’s fun to do the unexpected. A grouping of small vases can be filled with items such as fruit, pinecones, or pebbles. Instead of standing candles solo in soldier-straight rows, casually group them like fresh-cut flowers in a vase. Whatever you choose be sure not to block the view for people sitting across from each other. Taller arrangements can be saved for buffets.
The smallest additions to your dinner table can make a standard sit down gathering a grand event. To create anticipation for the night, send out invitations to your guests that include the menu. This is also a tactful way to find out about any food allergies ahead of time. Small picture frames can be used as place cards for a dinner party and arrange your guests in a deliberate random seating chart to encourage unique conversation.
Spice up your napkins by encircling them in fragrant rosemary. To make these napkins rings, take green florist’s wire, available at your local crafts store, and cut several 6- to 7-inch-long sprigs of fresh rosemary, which is sold at grocery stores. Wrap florist’s wire around each rosemary sprig, leaving 2 inches of florist’s wire uncovered at each end. Arrange the leaves to hide the wire. Twist a sprig-covered wire into a circle around each napkin where desired, and loop the excess wire into finished circles.
Welcoming Guests with a Pleasant, Comfortable Environment
Having guests spend several days in your home can be a special treat, especially if you can create a welcoming space where they can relax and feel special. Here are a few ideas to ensure that you and your guests enjoy their time in your mountain home.
Setting up a comfortable guest retreat in one of your guest bedrooms can be easy and inexpensive. The biggest investment should be the bed linens. Start with the sheets, they should be more than 300 thread counts sheets and topped with a luxurious blanket. Down can be expensive, but there are many high quality synthetic fillings that offer luxuries comfort, good value and hypoallergenic advantages. Also, several thicknesses of blankets or coverlets are an added convenience, perhaps a light blanket for warm summer nights and a heavier quilted blanket for cool winter evenings. I found a wonderful blanket that is light weight yet very warm at The Summer House right here in Highlands for under $100. Don’t forget about the pillows, they too should be of high quality. Recently many upscale hotels have been offering “pillow menus” because pillows are such a personal and individual preference. In you guest room, try to provide one soft and one firm pillow and one that falls in the middle for each guest.
Keep the space neat and uncluttered. The room should have calm, quiet color tones so your guests can sit or sleep restfully. Subtle blues and greens, pale yellows, soft peach and pink tones and grays are pleasant and soothing to the eye and calming to the soul. Room darkening shades or blinds will help your guests sleep undisturbed by early sunlight. A small nightstand is useful for holding an alarm clock, tissues and a bedside carafe. The carafe is a nice convenience for those who might need to take some medication before going to bed or for those who just like a sip of water in the middle of the night. Adding a few slices of lemon, lime or cucumber to the water is also a lovely touch.
Empty out closets and dressers in your guest retreat so that your visitors will have space to store clothing and miscellaneous items and make sure there are plenty of hangers to hold trousers, dresses and coats. Place and ample mirror in the room- your guests will want to look presentable before joining the family for breakfast. Make sure there is adequate lighting, both overhead lights and a reading lamp near the bed or a chair. If the room is large enough, a comfortable chair and a small table will offer a spot for a little bit of seclusion should your guests need some time to unwind? A cheerful vase of flowers on that table or on the night stand is another welcoming touch. And, don’t forget to include a basket that becomes a handy container for towels and washcloths, and perhaps some small soaps, shampoos, and lotions. A copper or galvanized tub or wooden produce box works well too.
Little details such as a small library of books and magazines, a portable CD player with appropriate music and a bowl of candy or snacks will all surely be appreciated. Scented candles help create a delightful ambience.
Finally, if your guests will be staying for several days, provide a daily newspaper that will show activities, movies, concerts, etc. and a map with your house boldly marked. And, make sure guests have a set of house keys so they can leave and return on their own schedule.
Providing a welcoming environment in your mountain home in Highlands or Cashiers, while allowing your guest some independence and freedom is the essence of a happy and memorable visit for both of you.
Contributed by Michelle Muraco, Broker Associate