Friday, November 4, 2011

Entertaining 101

Now that we are in the season for entertaining, I thought I would post some recipes over the next few weeks that are easy "go-to's" for parties. Most of them come from my mom, who is the hostess to beat all hostesses. Or, as my sister would say when she was little, "She's the hostess of the hostess of the hostess."   But that got me to thinking about entertaining, and how few people actually do it anymore. 

These are just some pretty entertaining pics I found.  No idea where they came from.

My mother was born to entertain. She has the gift of making people feel completely at home and special at the same time. It's incredible to watch.  I always look to her when I'm preparing for a party.  She's full of helpful hints and advice. 

I say she has a gift, but, truly, it is a learned art.  An art form anyone can grow in.  It requires a heart bent toward fellowship and a desire to serve.

Many of you do not feel comfortable entertaining.  How sad!  You really get to know people when you are in a comfortable environment, fellowshipping together.  Welcoming people into your home is an act that makes people feel very special, no matter what kind of home it is.  If you are unsure of yourself when it comes to entertaining or hosting a gathering, you will never feel better about it until you try.  Shocking truth: you have to practice to get better.  Handsome Hero and I love to entertain and wish we could do more of it.  We were not always comfortable with it, however.  Here are our first two attempts.

Our first company as a newly married couple was our pastor and his wife.  We cleaned our tiny apartment for days.  Handsome Hero was very nervous about them not liking the food, so just in case they didn't like our entree, we made two.  We also had four side dishes, two kinds of dessert, and lots of drink options.  I think we ate leftovers for two weeks.  I'm sure they left our house shaking their heads and laughing.

Our second attempt at company was a young family with kids.  Before they came, I asked Handsome Hero to clean the bathroom.  He said, "What needs to be done?"  I answered, "You know, sink and toilet.  That stuff."  He did it, and that evening when our company was gone, I went in the bathroom.  When I closed the door I saw, to my horror, my dirty underwear that had been hiding behind the door the whole time.  When I showed it to Handsome Hero, he said, "What?  You said sink and toilet.  You never said check behind the door."  Point taken.

We kept at it and got better each time.  It's a team effort for us.  And it's fun!

I've made a list of a few tips to help get you started.  If you have any tricks that work for you, please add them to the comment section.  We'll all benefit.


Do a party or gathering with someone.  It cuts down on your stress.  If you are going solo, bounce your ideas off of someone.  My mom and sister and I often call each other to brainstorm showers or parties.  It helps immensely.  Like last year when I held a Christmas cookie exchange for the ladies of the church.  I had the great idea to provide fuzzy socks at the door until my sister said, "They would all be new, right?  Not coming from your sock drawer?  Because that would be gross."

Clean your house, but don't worry about perfection.  Focus on the important things, like the bathroom everyone will be using.  No one notices if you didn't have time to dust.  I have been known to get Ella to pick up bits from the floor when I didn't have time to vacuum.  And guess what?  No one noticed.

Wedding reception table, centerpiece ideas, pink weddings, carnations

On that note, it's usually not worth mopping your kitchen floor, especially for large gatherings.  Just spot clean.  It's just going to get dirty when everyone comes.  Don't you like this tip?

Develop some go-to, never-fail recipes, even if it's as simple as a store-bought dip that you scoop into a pretty bowl with some veggies or chips.  If you love it, others probably will, too.  Keep your entertaining recipes in an easily accessible location so that you're not frantically searching for that awesome sausage ball recipe.

If you have room, and you have recipes that will freeze well, make double next time and freeze the leftovers for the next gathering.  My mom often does this with cookies or other desserts, and even casseroles.  Impromptu company?  No problem!

Schedule your parties close together.  That way your house is already clean, and your second party could even be a leftovers party!  It could be a fun way to eat through the goodies.

Do something to make the gathering special.  In the age of paper towel napkins, use cloth, or make place cards.  A pretty centerpiece can have great wow factor.  A little effort goes a long way.

Plan ahead.  My mom often sets her table a day or two ahead for a dinner party.  That way she can think more on the decorative aspects of the event.  If you don't have a separate dining table, or you have small kids like me, this may not work as well for you, but you could try to figure out your centerpiece or other decorations {if you're using them} ahead of time.  We are having company for Thanksgiving, and Ella and I made our centerpiece together.  You could also plan ahead what serving dishes you will use, or how you will serve {buffet? family style?}.  It's often the little details like making sure you have extra toilet paper {Handsome Hero says to make sure it's Cottonelle} and a fresh hand towel in the bathroom that can be the stressers if you don't have a plan.  This is one of those areas where experience helps.  Once you've left your dirty underwear behind the bathroom door, you never forget to check there again.  I promise.

The party or gathering is not about you.  It is about your guests.  If you focus on them, they will feel special and warmly welcomed.

I hope this was helpful.  Of course, this list is not exhaustive.  Feel free to share your ideas.  We would all love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. great post beth - a good reminder to focus on the guests!