I have something on my mind that I want to share with you. A couple of days ago I posted a quote on The Welcoming Table Facebook page. It was…
“When hospitality becomes an art, it loses its very soul.”
— Max Beerbohm
This quote speaks to me. It speaks to me at my very heart because it’s the message that I’m trying to put out into the world:
The idea that connecting with people is more important than centerpieces, tablecloths, and gourmet meals.
A lot of people have rallied around that message. It might even be why you’ve welcomed me into your inbox.
But on that Facebook post, a friend pushed back a little. She felt like those small touches like matching dishes, nice napkins, etc. communicate that you’re trying to do something special for the people you’ve invited over. She said she enjoys it when people go that extra mile for her, and she tries to do it for her guests, too.
And in reading her response, my heart fell a little. Not because I was hurt by her words, but because I realized that maybe I haven’t communicated my message very well.
I talk about giving up “entertaining” because I see people who stress out about all the details and totally forget to just sit and enjoy the company of the guests at their table.
I have friends who don’t invite people over because they feel like they can’t unless their table looks like a spread out of Better Homes and Gardens.
And I started The Welcoming Table because there are a ton of people out there who are lonely, and I truly believe that connecting over simple meals in your home can be a way to build friendships and community.
But maybe somewhere along the way, in trying to communicate those things, you’ve gotten the impression that I think centerpieces, tablecloths, and gourmet meals are wrong or that I think if you do those things, you’re just showing off. And that can’t be farther from the truth.
We all do small things to make our guests feel special.
For me, it’s cooking from scratch. I like to make restaurant-quality meals for the people who eat in my home because I honestly love cooking, and taking the time to make a meal from scratch is my way of showing them love.
For my friend, it might be using cloth napkins and pretty plates. For you, it might be arranging flowers in a vase or cleaning your house just that extra bit.
But here’s the thing: you don’t have to do all those things in order to connect with someone over a meal.
In fact, I have spent over a year encouraging you to invite people over even if your house isn’t perfectly clean. Even if your cooking is mediocre. Even if you only own Corelle plates (like me).
The truth is, I am going to keep pushing back a little at “entertaining” because I see it keep people from opening up their homes. How can we connect if we feel pressure to impress?
But hear my heart: If arranging flowers brings you joy, and you’re doing it to make your guests feel special, then by all means, do it. If you love having a clean house, make those floors sparkle. Use those pretty plates and napkins. Cook that gourmet meal. Communicate love and care in your own way.
But then? Let the other things go.
You don’t have to do all of those things to make your guests feel special in your home. You just have to offer an invitation. Because really, all anyone wants is to connect.
So, be you. Show your guests they’re special in your own way. And don’t feel pressure to do all that other stuff. An invitation is what really makes people feel special.