Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hosting 101

I love having people over at our apartment. It's way fun :)

I love seeing people having a good time, playing games, eating yummy treats, and hanging out with each other in my place. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that our house can be a place where others come to relax and have a good time :)

I hope that when people come to our place they feel they can "be themselves". I hope they feel they can be goofy and giggly and crazy. I hope they feel special and wanted when they come over.

But I didn't used to feel this way, ooooh no. I was deathly afraid of it! Why? Well there are many reasons I guess.
  1. I was worried my house wouldn't be clean enough or decorated properly for others' tastes.
  2. I was afraid my food wouldn't be gourmet enough.
  3. I was nervous my hostessing skills would fall short.
  4. I was embarrassed that we have a small apartment, not a huge amazing house.
I'm not sure when I overcame these obstacles, but somehow over the past year and half I've hurdled them. I somehow dropped all my inhibitions and just let go.

We have always hosted junior high youth group at our apartment every week since the day we moved here. The first year the parents took turns bringing treats for the group, so I didn't have to provide a whole lot. But the next year the rotation schedule kinda fizzled out, and I suddenly realized it would be on my shoulders to provide the food and drinks. We often hosted random fun parties at our house, so I slowly learned what kinds of foods the students liked.

One day it hit me like a brick. "I don't have to make gourmet meals and slave away in the kitchen for hours preparing. I just need to provide a simple variety of foods and beverages and present them in a nice way- that's all!"

I figured I just needed a variety of salty, sweet, and healthy foods for our guests. So I came up with a fairly regular snack plan. I laid out apples and caramel for dipping, crackers and sliced cheese, brownies or cupcakes, mandarin oranges, candy, juice, soda, and water. It really wasn't that difficult! It mostly just requires planning the day before to go grocery shopping, but putting it all together is a cinch!

I also started ordering home-made pizzas from a local ministry that is a safe-house for grownup orphans (keeping them off the streets and out of prostitution and human trafficking). That way the girls have a job, make a profit, and I don't have to cook the 6 pizzas by myself in one day. Any pizzas that don't get eaten we just toss in the freezer to use for the next party.

I had a "hostessing revelation" last week that has really inspired me. I think the problem before was that I was obsessed with thinking it was all about me and my hostessing skills to impress the guests. But that is soooo wrong! It's all about blessing your guests!

I realized that my whole house doesn't have to be spotless in order to have people over. I just need the main rooms to be clean, and I can toss odds and ends into our backroom for the event and shut the door. Then when the meal is over and the dishes pile up, I just leave them all in the kitchen and shut the door while I return to the main room to entertain our guests. I can wash the dishes later when everyone leaves. It's not like mold is going to grow on the dishes in one evening :)

I also realized that if I presented myself as a perfect hostess with a perfect house and perfect food and perfect smile, it would deter others from wanting to have me over because they would feel intimidated. I want others to know I am a real person with a real life- my house isn't spotless 24/7. I am willing to invite someone over last minute knowing my house is a little messy- and I hope that encourages them to do the same with others. When in doubt, just take everything and throw it in a back room :) And light candles- that always helps!

I thought I would make myself vulnerable and show you some pictures of what my house looks like after we host.

So throw your inhibitions aside and invite people over. Don't let pride get in the way. A wonderful friendship is awaiting you!

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