I have a small house. I have an outdated kitchen. I have an infant and a job. I am a control snob. All that considered, I might be a horrible hostess.
Over years of throwing clam bakes and Thanksgiving dinners, hosting Bible studies and impromptu girls’ nights, I’ve learned things about hosting that run against my original understanding. Hosting has shifted from stress to joy; I look forward to opportunities to bring people inside my home.
Small changes in my outlook have made a big difference, and here are three of the easiest tips to being the best hostess ever!
1. Depart from expectation that are self-imposed.I am a sucker for themes, decorations and excellent food. But hear me: The only person expecting perfection at your event is you. Guests might be impressed with formal place settings, shiny chocolate ganache or seasonal décor, but they will also never notice their absence. Allow yourself leeway to invest an appropriate amount of time, energy and money for your gatherings based on your lifestyle and life stage.
As soon as these extras (gourmet food, décor, fanciness, themes) become a stress instead of a fun expression of your creativity or gifts, get rid of them. Your guests just don’t care enough. By tailoring your investments, you will feel less frazzled, more in control, and more energetic when the guests actually arrive. (And sometimes less proud, snippy and inaccessible, if we’re honest!)
2. Make eye contact and conversation with each guest.When people come into your home, look them in the eye. Eye contact is the cheapest and fastest way to communicate respect and connection. It’s personal and honest, and this easy action will make your guests feel acknowledged.
Follow up the eye contact with a short conversation sometime during the event. Even a five minute awkward conversation you initiate will create a sense of belonging to any guest.
It’s so simple! Eye contact and individualized attention will make worlds of difference to the comfort level of your guests; you can bet they’ll be back with the next invitation!
3. Have fun yourself.You set the tone for your event. If you are acting like a spaz and fretting about the timing of dinner, your guests will sense the tension. If you are laughing or in the corner clinking glasses between dishes, your guests will feel emboldened to do the same. Some group dynamics are very difficult, but a happy hostess is the best remedy to keep things on track.
When you feel yourself tail-spinning toward annoyance or stress, step back. Ask a friend to take the dishes out of the fridge. Or just take a break! Sniff a candle or step outside.
The goals of hosting are positive: fun, love, friendships, kindness. You should be experiencing them too!
These simple ideas don’t always come naturally, but they aren’t complicated. Try one out and share the results! Cheers to healthy, happy hosting!