Hosting guests for Christmas?plants her tongue firmly in her cheek and shows how to achieve peace and harmony at a time of year when circumstances can test the best of welcomes.
As a wide-eyed fawn, I was taken in, red-eyed and dragging bags of clothes behind me, by the wonderful Mrs PG. PG could summon the ancient arts of a genteel household education, making an occasion a wonderful occasion, and enriching simple pleasures when company came clacking up to the front door (for a few deliberately candle-lit hours anyway).
FHB is a device, a group effort that puts visitors first, and first always. They eat first, bathe first, seize the meatiest lamb chop, two kisses at bed-time, it’s simply the best of everything. Deploying FHB should be carefully done. Choose your moments. When Dympna is reaching for the last slice of glazed turkey and the new mother-in-law’s hand is travelling resolutely over the oil-cloth, a smart ‘FHB’ expressed with a heel directly onto the bony part of the upper foot for D works wonders.
Stock the fridge, freezer, and pantry with cooked meals, fresh foods, and leftovers with the Food Saver Automatic Vacuum sealer, on offer at Debenhams for €87.75. Recover space and hide a season’s clothes with some simple Vacuum Storage bags with anti-reflow valves, from €4.99 a set HomeStore & More,
Never having to say ‘good morning’. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when people achieve non-agricultural houses on hectares, they begin the tender process of pushing lesser overnight guests further and further away from the beating heart of the family.
It’s a simple, classic, hotel touch, an outpost of politely suggested independence. When Gearoid has decanted his nappy in a wandering Christmas star over the sitting-room wall, or the husband has (again) brought up that ‘gorgeous’ girl he met at Irish camp in Spiddal in 1987, the kettle speaks through its beak to back off and stay in their rooms.
A pod coffee machine can be deployed to guest quarters when needed and recovered the rest of the year to the kitchen. Starting with value, the Dolce Gusto range from Nescafe and Delonghi starts at €54.99 for their versatile and chic Oblo Manual, argos.ie.
Time and disaster calluses us with experience. In terms of impressing guests, one thing is, and will always remain true — you can have authentic Erté bristling off the Bombe encrusted cabinets, but if anyone from 18 months to 80 years leaves a skid-mark up the personal porcelain, I’m afraid it’s all over.
A sofa bed with a firm feel, the Lovas from IKEA includes crucial space to stash the double duvet if the room is used by day. Excellent price for nice, clean lines in a three-seater sofa, with a choice of covers to match the room. €275, IKEA.
Harvey Norman does a good line in classic click-clack beds from €279.
Site an ottoman for hiding bedding and you’re good to go.
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