I love having people over, it’s something I crave. I start going nuts when we are in a busy season and can’t have people over. So today I wanted to share a few tips I’ve learned over the years and a list of things to always have on hand for when your guests drop by.
#1 The first thing that’s important to remember is to be YOU. Your house doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to apologize over and over again if it’s not (actually apologizing for the mess, points out the mess that they might not even notice)! Your friends come over to see you, not your house, and I guarantee they aren’t judging you because their house probably looks the same (or worse!). Just be yourself and enjoy your time with your friend(s). To be honest I actually love going to my friends houses when they aren’t perfect because that means they didn’t stress out about me coming over, it means they really just want to hang out with me. Being yourself is important, embrace who you are whether your house is perfectly clean or not and most importantly DO NOT let having a messy house keep you from having people over!
#2 Make your guests feel welcomed. When your friends arrive always offer them something to drink. There have been so many times I’ve just plopped down on the couch with a friend and 30 minutes into our conversation I’ve realized I’m parched. If I’m parched they are probably parched too, hostess fail. So now before someone even gets to my house I’ll set out a tray with a pitcher of water, some glasses, lemons if I have them, and even a few snacks. That way we can plop down on the couch and talk for hours without having to get up. 🙂 It’s nothing fancy, just a nice gesture that makes them feel thought of.
If we’re having friends over for dinner I always have a bottle of wine open and glasses set out to offer them a glass once they are settled. I also usually set out a small platter with crackers, cheese and maybe some chocolate (if I haven’t eaten all the chocolate in the house).
Setting out a few things before your guest(s) arrive will make them feel super special.
#3 Think about timing. That probably doesn’t really make sense but here’s what I mean. Don’t wait until your guests arrive to start making dinner (because everyone will be starving by the time it’s done) but also don’t have it sitting out getting cold when they first get there. I like to plan ahead so that whatever I’m making has about 10-15 minutes left to cook when our guests arrive. That 10-15 minutes is the perfect amount of time for them to get settled in, gather in the kitchen (because you know that’s where everyone always ends up anyways), be served a glass of wine, nibble on some snacks and start into a good conversation.
Since I started doing this I’ve noticed that our guests feel more relaxed and they seem to enjoy themselves more. I used to be the hostess that always had everything ready when the guests arrived, because I thought I was being a good hostess, but I learned that it made my guests feel rushed, like they were late and had been holding us up. I enjoy finishing up a meal with my friends gathered around me, sipping on a glass of wine, it’s the perfect way to start and evening.
#4 Let your guests help. Does that make you gasp and your stomach churn a little? If it does then you’re exactly like I am. I hate letting my guests help, it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. Now you’re thinking, “they WHY are you telling me to do it!?” Here’s why, it’s a valuable lesson I’ve learned over the years, one I am still learning – your guests want to help. About 1/2 the time we host people won’t offer to help, which is more than okay with me, but the other 1/2 people offer and when I tell them no, I can see them shrink back into themselves.
Let me explain. Last year we had some friends over for dinner and when Matt and I were clearing the table they both jumped up to help. I told them not to worry about it, we’d do the dishes later but they both refused (flat out told me no, they were helping whether I wanted them to or not) and the wife helped me clear and clean up the table while the husband helped Matt rinse the dishes and load the dishwasher. Even though every part of me felt so bad they were helping us clean up the mess, what I learned from this experience is that they felt empowered being able to help us. They were actually enjoying themselves helping us clean up. And then I thought about it even more and realized that my personality always wants to help pick up too so why would I refuse to allow someone to walk in their God-given gifting. I want to empower my friends gifts, now squelch them. Soooo… even though it’s still like nails on a chalkboard for me, if my guest offer to help me with something, I allow them to help. If they don’t then that’s great too because I love doing it all too. 🙂
Now that I’ve shared a few of my hostessing tips I want to share this awesome list that I got from my friend Heidi years ago. I can’t say I always have every single one of these things on hand but I usually have a handful of them, enough to pull stuff out when people drop by. 🙂
Items to keep on hand for entertaining –
In the pantry –
- mixed nuts
- Dried fruit
- Sparkling water
- Cocktail napkins
- Paper plates
In the fridge –
- Assortment of cheese – cheddar, parmesan, etc.
- Fresh fruit
- Carrot sticks
- Ranch dressing for dipping
In the freezer –
- Cookie dough
Click HERE for a printable version of the list above, to keep in your pantry, OR pin the image below.
Another thing I’ve learned from years of hostessing is that everyone loves dessert. There are a couple staple desserts that I always have the ingredients for, just in case someone drops by and they’re in the mood for something yummy. Click on the picture to take you to the recipe.
Excellent post, Anna! I wish that I had had this resource years ago!
Thank you so much! 🙂
I love this post!!!