Have you ever dreamed of being that family that always has friends and relatives in your home, but you’re a little intimidated at the prospect? Opening your doors to neighbors may be scary the first time, but it gets easier and easier. I’m here to share my favorite tips to make those first few guest visits as stress-free as possible.
1) Ditch the Pinterest Perfect Mentality
The number one enemy against welcoming guests into our homes is Pinterest.
I know that sounds rather drastic, but if you don’t believe me, head over to Pinterest and do a quick search for “Host a Gathering”. The results are stunningly beautiful – and completely unattainable for your average hostess. (That’s me!) There are elaborate place settings, perfectly portioned desserts in cute, individually sized serving dishes, and floral greenery galore. My family eats off of plain white plates, the only flowers in my house show up around Valentine’s Day and wilt a week later, and I certainly don’t have time to dress up a dainty plate of pastries and mousse for each guest.
Now don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Pinterest when it comes to finding recipes, getting inspiration for home decor, and adding to my repertoire of life hacks. But Theodore Roosevelt was right when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” You are looking to have people into your home because your family wants to show them hospitality. It won’t look the same as a get together your neighbor may host someday, and that’s just how it should be.
Allow your lifestyle and personal touches to shine through. If there are toys strewn across the living room when guests come into my home, I don’t sweat it. My guests know that I have toddlers, and it would be kinda weird if there was no sign of them at all. These people aren’t coming to critique your housekeeping or home decor, they’re coming to spend time with you.
2) Just Cover the Basics
While having guests is a great excuse to get a little extra cleaning done, this is not the time to start reorganizing all of your dresser drawers. Even on the off chance that your guests want to tour your home, I can promise you they will not be going through your sock drawer.
Stick to getting the important things done: toilet paper in the bathroom, the dishes cleaned out of the sink, and clearing the table where you’ll be eating are good places to start. Little things like smoothing out the afghan covering the couch or taking your kids shoes to their room instead of having them piled by the door can also go a long way.
When it comes to the food, it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Your guests will probably feel more at ease eating a lasagna than escargot anyway. I personally love to throw a simple stew or roast into my crock pot early in the day. Then when dinner time rolls around, I may be fixing up a light salad or sticking some frozen rolls in the oven, but the hard work is over and I’m not scrambling at the last minute to get food on the table. If cooking intimidates you, invite some friends over for pizza and games. Nobody is going to judge you for a fun evening playing board games or cards with a group of friends over a plate of pizza. It creates a casual atmosphere which is perfect for growing neighborly relationships.
3) Remember What’s Most Important
The most important thing to remember is why you are having people into your home. It isn’t to impress them with your culinary arts or your perfectly kept house, it’s to grow friendships and make memories.
I have an uncle who always says that “it’s better to share together over a biscuit than to not be together at all.” That may be a bit drastic, and I’ll admit I’d be embarrassed if all I had to offer my guests was a single biscuit, but the principle holds true. The important thing is spending time together.
If all you accomplish is bringing a group of people together, you have still accomplished the most important thing.