Ten things I've learned about hosting.

2:36 PM

Sorry I've been a little M.I.A. lately….

    It's been a busy week/weekend with lots of activities and playdates and Bible study and going to friends' houses and hosting other friends and gym night with the youth….etc.etc.  You know the drill.  So of course my blog has suffered but I suppose that is not always a bad thing.  We can't do everything, after all.

Which reminds me….let's talk about hosting.


   What are some things that are important to you as a guest?  And what are some things that are important to you as a hostess?  I have a love/hate relationship with hosting guests as I love having friends and family over, but I hate how unorganized I feel at times in my preparations.  It seems sometimes I will never achieve what I hope to achieve in opening up my home to others.

   In my highest ideal, as my guests walk in the door, there would be candles burning and soft music playing.  My chalkboard pieces would all have some new, freshly drawn quote or picture on them, and the lighting would be just right.  The house would smell nice (because of aforementioned candles) and the food would be just coming out of the oven, fresh and hot.  My girls would be neatly dressed and combed, and my husband and I would be very calmly and nonchalantly finishing up the last minute details before the doorbell rings.  I would be calm and collected, everything would be in perfect readiness, and our guests could enter a peaceful haven in which their hearts, bodies, and souls could leave feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.

*cough cough*  Okay, back to reality.

   More often than not, I am jumping into the shower with 5.3 minutes until they are scheduled to arrive.  And while we're being honest, more often than that, I'm skipping the shower.  Sometimes, when the guests arrive, my children may or may not be fully clothed.  The food is usually in a state of half-done, or 1/4 done, much to my dismay.  The table is often not set yet.  The house is usually at least mostly clean, but there will always be the inevitably forgotten door mat, last-minute toys strewn by the girls, and a few horrifying rooms that are completely un-seeable (guest bedroom, laundry room, garage, etc).

   But my WORST offense is this sort of strange restlessness that strikes if I happen to get my cleaning done a day before guests arrive.  Having the cleaning done early leaves me prone to whims like, "This would be a great time to try and hang those curtains and replace my picture gallery and paint some new wall art", type of whims.  And so I will just spasmodically roam throughout the house, launching myself new projects and things to do that somehow seem like they MUST be completed that day, in spite of company coming later that evening.  Why? Because guests coming over is always the fuel propelling me to accomplish things I would never otherwise find the motivation to do, therefore I must strike while the iron is hot and do them on that very day.

   The only problem is, I am one person, and there is only so much that one person can do!  This results in rarely never being able to achieve that image of an oasis of peace and tranquility for my guests to arrive to that I dream of.  I am usually rushing madly up until the moment that doorbell rings, and then try in the 2.4 seconds it takes to answer the door to wipe the sheen of sweat from my brow, wrangle my hyper children and plaster a peaceful smile on my face.

   Some people have achieved this whole "ideal hosting" thing.   I don't know how, when or why, but they have.  Maybe they were gifted by the domestic angels?  Heavenly hosts of hosting?  I have no idea.  But whatever it was, I missed out.

   I grew up with a mom who could work circles around 20 women, (and she still does) and so of course that is a lot to live up to.  But she also hustled and bustled the entire time the guests were there, spending lots of time in the kitchen and wearing a back back and forth in her tireless efforts.  And no offense to my lovely mother, but I just don't quite want to do that. I want to sit, converse, sip coffee, put my feet up and laugh with my guests and savor all the moments.  To my credit, I often do.  To my discredit, I let the dishes pile up and the table remain uncleared sometimes to do so.  But my question is, can you do both?

   I have a friend who, when she entertains, always has the table cleared and the dishes done and the kitchen neat as a pin by the time we all migrate to the living room to talk.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out how or when she does this.  Is she just back and forth often enough that it doesn't seem like she has disappeared for too long? Does she have a tiny little army of kitchen elves that pop out of the cupboards to help her?  Perhaps the dishes are the dissolvable kind that just wash right down the drain with soap and hot water?  We may never know.

   I guess in my few years of marriage and opening my home to guests, I have learned some things about myself when it comes to hosting:

   1.  I may never be quite as organized as I wish/hope to be and that is ok.
   2.  I need to NOT let my weaknesses keep me from opening up my home.
   3.  Perfection is overrated.
   4.  Pizza is as conducive to fellowship and friendship than the fanciest of fares.
   5.  When presented with the choice between design or comfort, chose COMFORT.
   6.  An impeccably impressive home with all of the trimming is nothing without warmth.
   7.  My main goal of the entire evening is that my guests will be blessed.
   8.  Pride is an obstacle to being a good hostess.
   9.  If people see all of your best impressions but miss your heart, that what is the point?
  10. Be yourself.  Cliche, but truly the only way to be.

   That's all for today, but I'd LOVE to hear….what are some things you've learned about hosting?  What are some tips, tricks or tidbits that you could share with me to help me improve?  Trust me, I NEED them!!!

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12 comments

  1. Love this! Thanks for the inspiration. Sometimes it really is better to just let things be and enjoy the moment - something I could do a little more of. Wish I had tips for you but I'm in the same boat!

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  2. I'm fairly new at the hosting thing, but one thing I've thought about that makes it easier is to make dishes that can be done a day ahead and then just re-heated. Some dishes are actually better the next day (soups, roasts, curries, etc.) because the flavors and spices have time to meld together and be extra tasty. Any meal where everything is done at the last minute is frustrating and difficult, I think, and the nice thing about doing it a day ahead is that you don't have to worry about something not turning out or not getting done. I especially like to do a meat that can be done ahead, because I feel the least confident about that part of a meal. Crock pots are another helpful thing!

    Happy hosting!

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  3. I am the kind that likes everything done, all pretty and waiting and looking good and then I'm all stressed out trying to make that happen. I think if I would relax a little and it would be more comfortable for my guests. I was at a friends house the other day and when we came she was in the middle of making food. We sat around the island and chatted while she cooked and it was all so relaxing and comfortable, because she was!! That's my goal, keep it comfy! Not everything has to be perfect.

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  4. Your blog is so funny! I love your writing style. :)

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  5. i love lists, writing them as well as reading them :) and yours is great, i especially like #5 and 7.
    my ideas and hosting have changed alot over the years, life does that you know? some things that mattered to me when the kids were little don't matter anymore. there was a time when planning and preparing things on ahead is what made it work. now i am winging it at the last minute most of the time. can't think of any tricks to share, but some quick thoughts are; our house is little so IF there's too much clutter for comfort, i've found that shoving things inside my dryer works great for a quick pick up. :) my crockpot and freezer are my buddies too. i try to have something frozen handy for a quick dessert, cookies, even shoofly pie.

    for me, the most attractive thing in a hostess is rest in her spirit about me/us being there. which means everything could look nice... and maybe not. even... probably not. you sound wonderful with that skipping shower part and propping up your feet, that's working for me. :)

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  6. I relate to your hosting style for sure, and your perfect scenario is just like the one I dream about. Those last minute showers are so good for me because it's often when I realize that, "Hey, I'm all stressed out and missing the point here!" It is such a good time for me to rest my heart and focus on blessing my guests not being amazing as a hostess. I've learned to love having guests hang out in the kitchen while I finish prepping the meal and I no longer feel the pressure to have it all ready and waiting the minute they arrive. Some of my friends have those mysterious kitchen elves as well. If you find out where to get them please let me in on the secret.

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  7. You are just the best writer! I laughed out loud while I was reading at all the word pictures that struck me so funny. :) I love to hash this thing of hospitality. For me, if feels like it continually goes in stages and seasons for me. When Ben and I first married, we hosted ALL the thing. As in, several times a week, and we loved it. Then, baby #1 came, and 21 months later, another baby. And did that ever slow down the entertaining. And it sure knocked my high ideals of entertaining right out of the sky. Reality is a little hard for me to face, but that's just what I'm learning I have to do.
    Example: we have some friends that we love to get together with, but there are six kids between the two of us couples, so that means busy days for us both. So, when we get together for a meal, we take turns at each other's house. Whoever hosts also orders pizza. Whoever comes brings dessert. Rachel Ray meals or glamorous dinner party meals? No. Because both of us would simply be so stressed out that we would never invite each other over (we're both perfectionists). So, this is what we've found that works and we love it.
    I love to sit and talk with my guests too, so I try to clear the table after the meal, but the dishes are left on the counter until after they leave - or sometimes the next morning. Who cares if dishes are sometimes left overnight if that means you get to enjoy the people you are hosting?
    I think the spirit of a host & hostess come through more than anything. I'd much rather be at someone's house that isn't perfectly tip top, but where they are welcoming and happy to have us there, than someone else's perfect house and I can tell they're on pins and needles with my kids there.
    Loved this post, and my apologies for my post in response. :)

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  8. I got tickled at the description of your mother, sounds a lot like mine! :) One traight that I've tried to keep is doing as much as I can ahead of time, so I don't have so much to do after the guests arrive, like making up tea concentrate so all I have to do is mix it with water, etc (we live in the south where sweet tea runs in our veins). But i'm like you when the guests do arrive. I'd much rather sit and visit and enjoy my company and let the dishes wait till everyone's gone. And I'm learning that it's not so much about the food, but the fellowship. Pizza goes here too!

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  9. So our conversation the other day? About how I was having guests that night? Well it ended up being quite frantic. I ended up hacking up meat for fajitas long after most of the guests had arrived. But, whatever, it was a good evening.:)

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  10. I like hosting - though don't do it often enough I think. One think I learned from my mom is to not let the house stress you out. People feel comfortable in a imperfect house. And, so I still clean obviously, but don't stress about the little things. Also, when the meal is over, my rule of thumb is to let the dishes go and ENJOY the guests while they linger. The dishes can wait. People are more important. Unless, the guests want to hangout in the kitchen and volunteer to do the dishes for you ;)
    Something I try to remember is what I like when I go away. I feel uncomfortable {or better yet annoyed} when everything is 'perfect' at someone's house. So, I want to be relaxing and comfortable for others at my house.
    Happy hosting! I love your honesty :)

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  11. Hospitality is something I want to learn how to do calmly and in a relaxed sort of way. I want my house to be clean and my food delicious....without stressing out so bad! I'm still learning how to be a good hostess.

    Great post!!

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  12. we share the same dna when it comes to hosting, girl!! jumping in the shower at the last minute {or not!}. and those projects that yes, just seem like they must be done RIGHT then! and afterwards, when we've had a great time and no one even seems to notice if my curtains are hung or i'm a bit smelly... i always wish i had just relaxed and not gotten so wound up about it all. those are my favorite homes to be in. where the atmosphere is relaxed and calm. and i know that comes from the hostess!!

    the best advice i ever got about having people over was from an older lady in my church when i was a young bride, and she knew my perfectionistic tendencies - she said, "your home is to bless, not impress." and her words still go through my mind everytime i'm preparing for company!

    such a great post. love your humor and honesty!!

    xo

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