Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Your "Ho Ho Hacienda!"

Greetings, Blog Friends.

It has been some time since I've written anything on this blog. At the beginning of November I put myself on my annual vacation. This is the time of year, after the Summer and Fall lodging seasons, that this innkeeper attempts to "check himself out" of the inn. It is a time when getting in touch myself becomes a sort of grounding. It is, also, a time when assessing the present supercedes thoughts of the past and of the future.

Preparing the inn for the Thanksgiving holiday guests seemed challenging after my break. You have to switch modes--this meaning from "up in your head" to "back to the heart" (which is where all hospitality is expressed).

For many innkeepers, this is the challenge in these quiet months. The jump from contemplation to actual action seems like jumping up a mountain. My point herein is that we need both--and when we are off balance with "thinking" and "doing"--life doesn't seem to dance as smoothly with us. So...I try my best to find activities that are for me (during which I focus on myself) and then (status quo) back to my inn business to express all the details that makes my business "homey and warm."

This morning as I shopped around Bridgton, Maine (the next town over), I realized that preparing for the upcoming holiday season has its success in its preparation. For example, one of the things that anyone can rest assured of during the holidays is the influx of visitors to our homes. Faces drop in, some unexpectedly, to wish us the joy of the holidays. Knowing someone has set aside time to want to see you during the holidays is such a wonderful gift. It is the blessing of sharing that friends and family feel a need to do. And during this magical time of year, how prepared are we for our visitors?

Your holiday decorations almost certainly have a schedule for when they appear. (It is different for all of us). Now how about your pantry, refrigerator, and bar? Are these ready to supply one of your memorable snacks or loving libations? They should be!

If you have a passion for baking (like I do), why not make up a bunch of individual quick breads for your visitors to take home after their visit? Mini bags of homebaked cookies are such a treat during the holidays, too---what cookie feels like the holidays to YOU? (If you have made too many of these take-home treats, don't forget the mail carrier, the paper delivery person, or your electric meter reader---these people are people who work hard, and an unexpected treat will really make their day!)

Beyond baked goodies, why not invent or research a cocktail that you can share (at certain hours of the evening) with any visitors? Point here is to stock the ingredients for the creation in ample supply. A cute invitation in your holiday card saying something like "I would like to see you over the holidays. Drop by for a Jingle Bell Cosmopolitan at your convenience. RSVP your Yuletide Cheer at (phone number)." By stocking up your "nearest and dearest" will be tickled by your hospitality and remind themselves why you are just an amazing person! (Lol). Remember: the cocktail can contain alcohol or not (we should all lean towards prudent consumption of liquor, especially this time of year). Make it festive, however, with the colors of the season, or serve it in a cool Wintertime glass of some sort.

Seriously, we know guests are part of holiday tradition. Let's get prepared in advance and step into the creativity of expressing hospitality to those we love. We, as individuals who love to entertain and learn about food, are the front lines for keeping the magic of the holidays alive. You don't need to own an inn to do this. You merely have to open up your heart...and your home. Be sure to grant some "up in your head" time for yourself (walking, a nice warm bath, or a quiet cup of seasonal tea) and know that after all the thoughts, "from the heart" is where your passion is expressed.

A pre-December idea for all to consider! Check back soon!

Keith A. Neubert


The Inn at Long Lake, Naples, Maine