I was always quite confused, when in the Brownies we had to work towards our ‘Hostess’ badge. I had been completely onboard with the other more practical badges, such as art, swimming, first aid, but being able to serve tea and cake with skill, never quite made sense to me. Also I remember there being a ‘Venture badge’ but with no recollection of what it was I had ventured towards, maybe it was venture capital for 8 year old girls? I can’t remember.
However, in my adult life, I have come to appreciate more and more, why you might need a tutorial in hosting. There are occasions in all of our lives where we are hosting and don’t even know it. So many times, I have been to an event or gathering and the host has missed the mark, just a little- not enough cups, running out of soap in the toilet, no extension leads for the DJ or invitees who don’t speak the same language and no friendly translators on hand. Wrangling all of these factors, into an enjoyable experience for guests… that’s what the badge was for.
Although not taken directly from the Brownie handbook, here are my tips for good hosting.
Time it Right– guests need to be occupied, so don’t make them wait too long for the main event or don’t front load all the fun.
Have enough– Think about the things you will need and that’ll you have plenty without having to pop off to wash up all the spoons.
Get Involved-don’t invite everyone over, then have to spend the whole time in the kitchen topping up the melon ball supply, prepare ahead of time.
Accept Casualties– you will be a rubbish host if you spend the whole time worrying people will break your favourite mug or stain your persian rug, people are by their nature
Recently, I had to host the all too familiar, family check in. A new flat caused for a casual drop by and chance for my relatives to scrutinise the location, amenities, furnishing choices and plant care abilities.
My difficulty here, was that the drop by was for mid-morning, pre lunch.
I still wanted to show that I was a great hostess, but couldn’t wow with a perfect mezze or tapas selection, without ruining our lunch. I decided the make some biscuits and returned to a classic- Anzac biscuits.
I have been making these bad-boys for 20 years and by having oats and coconut amongst the ingredients, makes them feel appropriate as a pre-lunch snack. You almost feel like these are wholesome muesli bar style treats, until you add the golden syrup.
- 85g porridge oats
- 85g desiccated coconut
- 50g chopped nuts (I used cashews for this batch, but Macadamias would be my no #1 dream choice)
- 100g plain flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 100g butter, plus extra butter for greasing
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Put the dry ingredients all together in a bowl.
Melt the butter in a pan and then add in the golden syrup.
Add the bicarb to 2 tablespoons of boiling water and then add that to the golden syrup and butter.
- Add the butter and the syrup mixture to the dry ingredients by making a well in the centre and then stir gently to combine.
- Separate the mix into balls about the size of ping pong balls and roll lightly between your hands. Pop onto a baking sheet, with some space between, as the dough will spread whilst cooking. Bake in batches for about 8-10 minutes, until they look all golden and lovely. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.
These biscuits keep for about 4 days in a tupperware box and in my opinion get better as the golden syrup and coconut flavours develop.
When your guests arrive place on a wooden board or slate or something to look extra fancy. I served mine next to some cucumber water too, as if there’s anything that says well prepared hostess, then it’s cucumber water.