A duck on water. On top, it appears to glide gracefully over the pond, but underneath you see webbed feet paddling energetically towards its destination. When hosting a party, we may feel more like the duck under the water than the duck on top of the water. Throwing a gathering takes time and can be stressful, but our goal should be to reduce as much of these feelings as possible. Is this realistic? It can be if we get our priorities right.
Why should people be treated to a calm hostess? Because our attitudes will directly reflect onto those around us. If we are stressed, others will become stressed. If we are stuck in the kitchen, our guests will feel they need to work in the kitchen with us. And if they do not help us, they will feel a twinge of guilt as they think they have become a burden. It becomes an unpleasant experience for all.
The social skills we display when hosting a party should have one goal in mind: treat our guests like we want to be treated. If we want our friends to feel welcome and relaxed, then we need to model this behavior. Parties are about hospitality, not about entertaining. If gatherings in your home cause undue stress, then step back and ask why. Is it because you are trying to compete with the Pinterest perfect parties on social media? Feeling as though you never quite measure up? Maybe your menu is too extensive, or too difficult to execute.
When I entertain, I rarely decorate any part of my home except the table (Christmas being the exception!). Why? It is difficult to decorate an entire house unless done to the extreme. I focus my efforts where the food will be, whether this is a buffet, sit-down dinner, or both. To give my home a little extra pop, I might place a few floral arrangements in strategic areas where I know guests will wander. My favorite menu is a sandwich buffet where everyone can create what they want. I make a couple of sides and might have a soup. It is easy and relaxed.
I learned years ago that my desire to go overboard with my party themes was starting to cause me to stop entertaining. I was too overwhelmed. Knowing hospitality should always trump entertaining, I took a step back, re-evaluated and went back to the basics: KISS (keep it simple, silly). A clean house, a clean bathroom, a decorated table, and a few floral arrangements. That is all that is needed.
Figure out what is causing your stress and then simplify. We want to give our best, but if entertaining causes anxiety to the point we stop displaying hospitality, then we are missing the point. Opening our home to friends, family and strangers should be our goal, and if the only way we are comfortable doing this is with paper plates and take-out from the local restaurant, then go for it!
Change your focus to WHY you are gathering people together and stop obsessing over HOW you are entertaining. We host parties to show love to those around us, and that love will only be felt by our guests if they know they are more important to us than creating our version of the perfect evening.
Life is a party, and it should be enjoyed. Have you ever asked yourself what the final act will be in God’s big plan when He welcomes the church? We are invited to a huge, extravagant banquet! The wedding supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7-10) But God’s ultimate goal for this party is not to entertain, it is to welcome us Home.
I want those in my presence to feel that same love and peace when they walk through my doors. I want them to feel I have just wrapped them in an oversized, warm blanket and put my arms around them.
Let’s have our big parties, fun decorations, and great menus, but let’s always keep in check what is important and why we are doing what we are doing, which is to create simple connections with family and friends.
Together with you,