I know of friends who woke up long before the crack of dawn to watch the Royal Wedding this morning. It wasn't going to happen here. There was a time when I was a morning person but when my son was commuting from home to college, I began to wait up for him many nights. Late nights.
Since then I've tended to stay up late so getting up in the wee small hours of the morning was not written in the daily planner. I do, however, have BBC America set later today to watch their highlights.
I love to enjoy special occasions, especially when I had kids at home or friends who could pop over at the slightest talk of cake and coffee. My pantry was filled with those items which when brought out, or baked, or assembled could provide a last minute celebration.
I don't celebrate enough these days but I still like to keep items on hand that can transform a ho hum snack into something special. There is a drawer in the Study where items are tucked away for a "just in case" kind of event. These include cake and cupcake decorating items (including pretty cupcake liners and and picks), sprinkles and sparkling sugar, cute paper plates and napkins, etc.
Of course I have everything necessary for a formal tea party. A real tea party for which a lot of planning has gone into. I love getting out the teapots, teacups, serving dishes, etc. However, that doesn't happen often enough. Most of the celebrations around here are fairly last minute.
Many years ago, I wrote about keeping a Hospitality Pantry. It was mainly about keeping items on hand that could be assembled, baked, put together, etc. for last minute guests. While my hospitality is more limited these days, I still keep some of these items on hand.
I'm listing items I either store now or that I have kept in the pantry in the past. Some items are for convenience, such as a good quality brownie mix or a cake mix. When possible, I do prefer homemade baked goods either made that day or kept in the freezer but life happens and that is not always possible.
Here are a few ideas for items to keep in the pantry.
Cake Mixes (especially confetti cake mix and yellow cake mix)
Brownie Mix (my son actually liked brownies from a mix the best)
Pepperidge Farm or other high quality cookies (rotated for freshness). ;)
Ritz or similar crackers (can be in fancy shapes or regular)
Frozen pound cake
Frozen homemade layer cakes to ice later
Frozen bread or pizza dough
Frozen puff pastry (etc.)
Frozen cookie dough, preferably homemade*
Pepperidge Farm party bread, white or whole grain baguettes, or any brand dinner rolls to make tiny sandwiches (kept in freezer)
Jar of lemon curd
Bonne Maman or other high quality strawberry jam
Jar of clotted cream (I rarely have this on hand)
Tea of all kinds, including those without caeffine
Milk, cream, sugar, and an alternative to sugar such as Splenda
Tea to make iced tea in hot weather
Frozen lemonade in the freezer
*I don't care much for frozen cookie dough, to me it has an aftertaste. However, I have a few cookies that work well to be frozen ahead of time, some scooped and flash frozen and others rolled into a cylinder and frozen to be later sliced and baked. I find shortbread cookies and sugar cookies are very easy to roll, freeze, slice, and bake.
Here are a few of the recipes that I have used for parties.
Tulip Time Brownies (also called Texas Sheet Cake)... here.
Pumpkin Bars... here.
Chocolate Cherry Cake (almost everything is in the pantry)... here.
Philadelphia Brand 9 x 13 cheesecake... here.
My very favorite scone recipe... here.
An unusual cinnamon chip scone... here.
My favorite chocolate chip cookies (dough can be frozen)... here.
Easy cucumber sandwiches... here.
Hamburger dip... here.
I hope these will give you a few ideas. Feel free to add your favorite items which can be kept in a Hospitality Pantry in the comments!
Image: A tea party at my house many years ago.