In a pinch, summertime entertaining can be as easy as frozen hamburgers sizzling away on the grill, potato chips, a quick green salad and wedges of watermelon all served al fresco. Maybe your guests head inside to use your bathroom.
But fall is coming in and so will your guests.
With kids, there are moments inside your house when you have hit rock bottom. What was one “Fisher Price Little People” family hang-out has become a family reunion—the airplane has literally landed, as has the bus and the playhouse. While you were in the kitchen refilling yet another sippy cup, mayhem has ensued.
Then, inevitably, the phone rings.
“Drop by?” you say, “Sure, why not? See you in a half hour!”
Then, you turn into a mom-maniac trying to get things in order. Here are what I think are the best ways to hide the damage in a flash.
1. Walk the path your visitor will take with a wet Mr. Clean (or generic) Magic Eraser and a bucket of soapy water in your hands. Wipe fingerprints off the door and/or walls.
2. Make your way to the primary hang-out place (most likely living room or family room). Pickup all items that are strewn around, engaging the kids in a game of fast-pace cleanup, so they are not undoing as you go along. Straighten up everything, including pillows and window curtains.
3. Head to the bathroom with a bottle of bathroom spray cleaner and a roll of paper towels.Wipe down bathroom sink and store any lingering items. Spritz and wipe down toilet, then give the inside of the bowl a swish with the toilet bowl brush. Straighten towels and shower curtain.
When it comes to food, you have two choices-use what you have on hand or let your fingers do the walking and place a phone call.
In terms of using what you have—be creative and keep some things on-hand and tucked away from your family, just in case. It’s not fancy, but in a pinch, I always have spaghetti and frozen meatballs (normally I make them myself, but the Mama Lucia brand is pretty good), with some cookies for dessert. A package of cookie mix is a great thing to have on-hand, as you can have "homemade" cookies in around 15 minutes.
Hillsborough has a lot of restaurants that provide catering, but lacking a lot of time to plan, here are some that should be able to pull something together for you on the fly:
Philly Pretzel Factory of Hillsborough (601 N, Route 206, 908-281-0281): great for informal gatherings, especially if kids are involved (of all ages).
Deal: Visit their website and sign-up to receive regular emails with coupons.
Chicken Holiday (220 Triangle Rd, 908-369-5777): Chicken, seafood, rolls, ribs and fries are just a few of the many options.
Deal: Check out their Family Specials, including the “Chicken Jubilee” meal, which includes 16 pieces of chicken. Choice of one jumbo: cole slaw, macaroni, or potato salad and your choice of one family pack of french fries or mashed potatoes for $27.99.
Good through: Ongoing
ShopRite of Hillsborough (601, US 206): head for the Fresh Bake Shoppe or the deli counter (grab an assortment of sliced deli meats & cheeses and a bunch of nice rolls, then arrange at home).
Deal: This week Carolina turkey breast is only $3.99/lb, Black Bear American cheese is $4.99/lb, Black Bear Eye Round roast beef is $5.99/lb.
Good through: August 27