A few people have told me we’re crazy for wanting to host 200 people in our home this year. Yes, we’re definitely crazy. But hosting people in your home doesn’t have to be stressful or even a very big deal, and it’s the easiest way to make someone feel loved and welcomed and cared for. And who knows, you might even get a few belly laughs in during dinner, if you’re lucky.
Focus more on creating a welcoming atmosphere than a Pinterest-perfect home.
When hosting people in your home, THINGS DO NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT. I’ll repeat: THINGS DO NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT. I have been “about to get” curtains for our living room for 2.5 years now. Nobody cares. Our breakfast nook has been converted to a playroom, so my beloved table/dishes on display have been replaced by a plastic kitchen and 82 tutus in a dress-up bin. Nobody cares. There are no winter flowers in my front flower bed. Nobody cares.
Don’t wait for your house to be perfect to invite people over.
Screw Forget Pinterest. Just be you – it’s going to put your guests at ease. Trust me.
Keep the food simple.
Mr. Right is practically a chef, and we used to make the most elaborate dinners for people, but it also meant we were both running around like crazy people prepping the meal, timing everything right, and making sure everything was perfect. Even grilling was a huge pain, because Mr. Right was stuck outside, away from our guests, while he cooked. It didn’t leave a lot of time for actually hanging out with our guests.
Between you and me, it was also a little stressful. And expensive. And it might have caused an argument or two (who us? never!).
About a year ago we decided to stick with simple meals – most of the time – like soup and chili during the winter and cheese/meat trays during the summer. Mr. Right salvaged and then stained a giant serving platter (it’s gorgeous) that is perfect for our summer smorgasbord, and he usually garnishes our soups with fresh herbs from our garden and serves it with homemade garlic bread. Don’t worry about impressing your guests with fancy food – serve something that will allow YOU to enjoy the evening as well.
Divide and conquer, and don’t forget to crank down your air conditioner.
Mr. Right and I have been doing this so long that we have hosting down to a science. Here’s how it works: Mr. Right picks up the groceries (bless him) and prepares the food. I set the table, make sure the house is picked up, wash dishes while he cooks, and act as his sous chef if he needs any help. Dinner parties are less stressful because we know who’s going to do what, and we both do tasks that play to our strengths. An hour before our guests arrive, we just kind of fall into line, both working to get everything ready.
Oh, and it may just be us, but whenever we have people over, all those people make our house seem warmer. So, about two hours before your guests arrive, crank down the air conditioner or open your windows and cool down your house. Trust me.
Find a simple way to spoil your guests.
Even though I have freed myself from the bondage of Pinterest, I do love to spoil people and let them know that we are honored to have them in our home. For me, it means always putting out cloth napkins and pretty placemats on our table. We don’t do fancy dishes, and we drink out of mason jars, but my table still looks pretty and “special” when my guests sit down.
Another way I make things special is by putting out jars of cold water on the table so our guests don’t have to get up for a refill. It’s a trick I learned from my favorite restaurants, and is a tiny way for me to show my guests that I put some thought into their visit.
If we’ve got flowers or herbs growing in our garden, I’ll throw some in a bud vase and stick them on the table (no tall flowers that could obstruct your view and conversation), but if not, I don’t stress about it. We also turn on music before our guests arrive so that the moment they walk in the door, things feel homey.
The first step to hosting 200 people in your home is to invite someone over for dinner. And then another, and another. We’ve had 14 people over (including one weekend guest) in January, and would have had four more if our kiddo hadn’t gotten sick for a few days. None of the dinners have been fancy, or elaborate, but all have been so. much. fun.
Just give it a try – make your first invite – and see how much fun you can have. In fact, you can start by inviting me over for dinner… (hint, hint).