What is the Key to Successful Entertaining?
Can you think of certain people you know who always seem to show their guests a good time? Is there one invitation you will jump through hoops to accept, because you are sure you’ll have fun at their house? What is it about these people that makes them successful entertainers? Is it the food? The drinks? The atmosphere? The conversation? A combination of all of these things?
For me, it is the fact that I know I will feel welcome in their home. Part of making people feel welcome can certainly include everything listed above, but it really doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have the BEST food, or the FINEST drinks, or the BIGGEST, FANCIEST, CLEANEST house, and you don’t even have to be the most ENTERTAINING conversationalist. None of that is necessary to be a good host, although all of it can help. Sometimes a completely impromptu gathering where you know the host had no time to prepare in any way can still be a great time. It’s all about making people feel welcome.
There are many ways to make people feel welcome in your home. I am reminded of a story my mother-in-law once told me about a friend of hers who was always welcoming. This friend had a ladder and a bucket in the house almost every time my MIL visited her. The ladder would often be in different rooms. After a few visits, my MIL asked her friend what project she was working on, which would explain the moving ladder. Her friend said, “Well, I’ll tell you a secret. Nothing. I just move the ladder and bucket around so it looks like I’m working on something. That way people don’t expect my house to be spotless, because they assume I’m in the middle of home improvements!”
This woman, whoever she is, is a genius. She alleviated one of the biggest stresses we all experience when having guests in our home: the need for everything to be perfect. Many people don’t even bother to entertain because they fear that they will be judged. I think that most people just appreciate your efforts and if they are the type to judge, you probably won’t invite them back anyway! Things absolutely do not have to be perfect when you entertain. I remind my family of this every time we have a gathering. I always leave something amiss – maybe a pile of art supplies obviously shoved in a corner, or a few dishes from our meal prep still in the sink. My mantra is “we don’t want to look TOO perfect because that would make our guests feel uncomfortable!” I think of my MIL’s friend.