Hosting is something I absolutely love to do but quite honestly not something that comes naturally. An hour or so before I have guests I always feel some slight panic or anxiety. One time I even called a friend super flustered and she came to the rescue with a bag of groceries and calm demeanor to help me out.
Hosting doesn’t have to be hard. The root of it is inviting people you love into your home. This quote from Shauna Niequist on hospitality has stuck with me for years now, “The heart of hospitality is when people leave your home they should feel better a bout themselves not better about you!” Below is advice from myself that I’ve gathered over the years and some of my friends over the years.
1. Start with a tidy-ish house. Lauren A (@laurenaplinart) says, “I always feel relief when my house is clean… after that I’m solid.” I can relate! Once my house is in order I have a more clear mind to prepare, but I want to also add don’t let this one stop you. For me it was always so hard to get over the hurdle of “my house isn’t perfectly clean/tidy” so people can’t come over. People don’t care. I mean unless your house could be on hoarders - then maybe invite people over to help you clean up (many hands make light work!) I typically do a quick spot clean before people come over. Vacuum common areas. Mop if any babies or children will be coming over. Clean the guest bathroom surfaces & toliet. That can all be done in under an hour or 45 minutes even!
2. “Always ask for diet restrictions beforehand and ALWAYS accommodate even when they say you don’t have to! I’ve found people with heavy diet restrictions always get left out and it’s not too difficult to make a similar dish on the just for them!” - Great advice from Michelle P (@_michelle_paul) As a gal who is gluten free myself I can attest. I always feel so awkward telling people my dietary restrictions but so loved and cared for when I can eat & enjoy, too! One way to provide this? Fresh food when possible! One of my go to sides is fresh seasonal fruit. Dump it out of the container. Rinse if needed and throw it in a bowl. It’s easy and covers amost all dietery restrictions. Also chips and fresh salsa. Super easy. Super tasty. Super accommodating!
3. Have a go-to recipe that’s easy to make. I have never enjoyed cooking. I cook for survival. If I didn’t have to eat I wouldn’t cook. Because of this, I always doubted having people over and if what I cooked would be edible. My friend Lindsay is great at cooking. Her recipes are easy to follow. Her blog posts about recipes are not novel length talking about her day or other useless info. It’s the recipe & or a video of how to make it. I find a lot of my “staple” recipes from her! They are easy to make but not lacking in flavor. They are crowd favorites. Check it out here.
4. Have an extra bottle of wine or beverage that you’re serving. This handy beverage calculator tells you how much to buy in respect to your guest list. if you’re having a big party. I tend to stock up on a couple extra bottles of wine or beer when we make a Costco run to have on hand. It’s really beats having to make a run to the liquor store day of. Services like Saucey and Foxtrot deliver beverages right to your door which can be a great resource, too! No alcohol or someone comes over unplanned? No problem! See next step.
5. Bust out a “party trick”. This might take some time and prep. This past New Years Eve our friends came over and taught us their “party trick” which is how to make Old Fashioneds. Since then, I’ve practiced and now refer to this as my own “party trick”. If someone comes over I will always offer them an Old Fashioned. It’s just what I do now. I cannot make other cocktails but I can make Old Fashioneds! I love Old Fashioneds and because of that, I love sharing them with my guests. Parth’s party trick is coffee steeped anyway you like. He practices how to make it - most of the time on me. But now, he will always offer people coffee. Maybe yours is baking or cooking or making a cup of tea or a beautiful charcuterie board … I don’t know! But share what you love with people. They are in your home to see the real you!
6. Give your guest bathroom some love. I learned this one from my mom. She always has nice hand soap and a lovely scent going in the guest bathroom. She does this so guests feel special and it helps her feel more confident opening her home. She stocks up during the Bath & Body soap sales and also gets hand soap from the new line at Target. But it always smells so good. Another trick is save toiletries from hotels! I have a stash of them for overnight guests. It’s inevitable that someone will forget something and when they look for it they’ll see it’s right there in the bathroom for them!
7. Use what you have! This can go for food or dishes or whatever. There’s no need to go out and buy the fanciest schmanciest food or wine or decorations. Just be yourself. Fix a meal you’d normally have. Use your grandma’s old bowls or what you use every day. You don’t have to have a Pinterest worthy party to be hospitable. I know. It’s scary. Sometimes its easier to hide behind the veil of entertaining rather than show people our real selves- but it’s worth it!! People will feel comfortable to open up if you are just you and not trying to entertain!
8. Have a playlist. Have a good playlist going. Silence can make people feel awkward If this isn’t your forte there are pre-made playlists on all streaming services. If you don’t have a speaker you can invest in a small blue tooth one or use your phone!
9. Accept help! I am absolutely preaching to myself here. When you’re hosting it’s natural for guests to want to help. I get really overwhelmed and it’s not easy for my mind to give tasks out to delegate. Something my husband and I have started doing lately is game planning before guests arrive what they can do to help as we know they will ask! So this past weekend we left the table cloth off the table and the table unset so that guests could help. This makes people feel more part of the day or celebration. And it’s ok to ask for and accept help! It’s natural - again, writing this as a reminder to myself 😉
10. Don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself, too! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in making sure everyone else is taken care of that you forget to enjoy yourself. I know at Thanksgiving we are all constantly telling my grandma to, “just sit down and eat with us!” Don’t forget that your guests are there because they want to spend time with you. Of course you want them to feel well cared for but don’t forget to sit and enjoy the meal and conversation, too!