I love to host events. I have the Spiritual Gift of hospitality and come from a long line of Southern cooks, most of whom loved to entertain. There’s just nothing better than good food, a cool beverage, some flowers and a host of friends. Every time I entertain, I am reminded thought “It ain’t about me!”
It saddens me that as our houses have grown in size and Viking Ranges have gained in popularity, fewer and fewer people entertain. I am hopeful though as I follow blogs and spend too much time on Pinterest, that the next generation is bringing good old fashioned hospitality back. That’s exactly as it should be. I also notice though that the houses are a little smaller, the tables set with restraint, and what is old is new again. How fun!
As I mentioned, I come from a long line of great cooks and hostesses. Each with their own style, but each made certain their home was ready for guests and the very best of what they had to offer was prepared with love for those visiting. I pray the gift of hospitality is something I will pass on to my girls. Hosting others in your home can be one of the most fulfilling tasks. Especially if done right. And, the only way to ensure you do it right, is to remember, “It ain’t about you.” Too often we get more concerned with what people will think of our home, our place settings, our choice of attire, etc… and we fail to think about the person(s) we have invited into our home. To entertain well, one must make your guest comfortable. And that can mean different things for different folks. But what it always means is placing our attention on them.
I have been blessed to have a husband and children that love having others in our home. That being said, we have hosted a LOT of stuff. I am always so blessed when my guests tell me how comfortable they were at my home or have someone take the moment to tell me how “homey” my home is. Now, I realize that in some “southern” talk that can mean my home is cute, not the top in vogue design style etc… but, if someone felt at ease, enjoyed good conversation and wanted to linger, then “homey” I’ll take! This point was driven home a few years ago when a dear friend called and asked if I would take the lead in hosting a bridal shower for her son’s bride elect. Her reasoning for calling me was simply this, “I know you will think about her and make it comfortable. She likes simple things, doesn’t have expensive taste and would much prefer that money be spent on a cause than on cakes or silver.” Yes, entertaining is ALL about your guests. Of course, I hosted the bridal shower and I do believe it was a success, meaning the bride elect was at home and felt welcomed. In reality, I got a few raised eye-brows as I recommended we use a few paper products, have rustic decor and serve mini cupcakes instead of a large bridal shower cake, which in the South can come close to looking like a mini version of the wedding cake! We served on white porcelain trays, no silver, no crystal. Oh my… But, you see, that was this bride-to-be. She loved color and simplicity. Her heart was tender and she was a giver. A lot of fluff and sparkle would have seemed a waste to her, almost even an offense. Lesson learned, yet once again. Entertaining ain’t about me, it’s all about my guests.
Here are a few tips, followed by some pictures of various hostessing moments. Enjoy. I hope you will be encouraged to open your home. Plan a party. Plan dinner with friends. Keep it simple and make it ALL about them.
- A clean home is more important than a decorated home. I know, we all hate it, but mop, vacuum and scrub the toilets. It’ll go a long way.
- No need for crystal and china-although if you have it USE it!
- Set the table the day before. Include placing serving pieces on the table.
- Be creative in your centerpieces: A few potted plans sitting on some burlap running the center of the table. (Your guests can take them as party favors or you can plant them the next day.) A grouping of candles is always fun. Fresh fruit gathered among-st some grapevine or set upon a wreath.
- Keep the food simple. A meat, a starch, and a veggie or salad. Make dessert the night before or have something mixed up ready to pop in the oven. I love chocolate chip cookie dough in ramekins. Serve hot with a scoop of ice cream.
- Be creative with napkins: Use bar towels, bandannas, and yes, even paper
- Don’t stress over the details and by all means don’t snap and yell at your family. (This is the voice of experience.) Your guests will notice the tension more than they will notice the missing centerpiece or toys under the coffee table.
- Let the dirty dishes wait. Your guests came to see you. Be seen. Sit and visit.