When it comes to inviting people over for dinner The-Welcoming-Table style, there are some dos and don'ts. We're all about keeping things stress-free around here because when things are hard, you don't want to do them. Entertaining should be fun and something that you want to do more often. So here are a few rules to help you keep things low-key when you're hosting guests.
1. DON'T keep saying, "We should get together sometime!" and never follow through.
DO be intentional about who you invite over. Think about people who overlap with your life in more than one way, and invite those people. They're the ones you're most likely to develop community with.
2. DON'T worry about "entertaining" and making everything Pinterest perfect.
DO focus on hospitality, making your guests feel welcome. Guests don't need to be impressed -- they need to feel a connection.
3. DON'T Try to do EVERYTHING. You don't have to be a gourmet chef, an interior designer, a party planner, and a maid all wrapped into one.
DO focus on the things that most bring you joy. Do you like gourmet cooking? Then make a gourmet meal (But DON'T STRESS ABOUT IT!) Do you like to clean and to make a pretty tablescape? Then own it! Do you like making cute crafty centerpieces or stuff with mason jars? God bless you. Just do it (but don't tell the rest of us about it).
4. DON'T worry about making your house perfectly clean. Your guests are there to be with you, not to inspect your house. Sometimes it's okay to leave a pile of papers on your counter or for your kids' toys to be out.
DO pick up and keep the health inspectors away.
5. DON'T feel like everything has to be the best of the best -- THIS is what keeps you from entertaining more often.
DO feel free to use paper plates sometimes or to serve something store-bought. Whatever you need to do to make you willing to host more often, do it!
6. DON'T try a new recipe when having guests over. It will inevitably mess up (unless you're an accomplished cook).
DO use tried-and-true recipes. It helps you feel confident and ensures that you won't have any mishaps.
7. DON'T wait until the last minute to cook and clean. That's a recipe for stress.
DO prep ahead. Anything that you can do, whether it's making your dessert the day before, setting the table hours before, or cleaning the morning before guests come, do ahead of time. Any prepping ahead that you do will make things easier for yourself when it gets closer to time.
8. DON'T pick all complicated recipes for your meal.
DO pick one showstopping recipe, whether it be your main course or dessert. Keep the other recipes simple (bagged salads are totally okay!).
9. DON'T make all recipes that need a lot of hands-on time. The more you have to multitask, the more "on game" you have to be. You need some mental energy left for your guests.
DO use time-saving appliances. Your Instant Pot and slow cooker can become your best friends when it comes to inviting people over.
10. DON'T talk about yourself ad nauseam. You might be really interesting, but you'll seem more interesting if you get your guests talking.
DO ask your guests lots of questions about themselves. Take mental notes and remember to ask them follow up questions, like "Oh, you enjoy traveling? What place is next on your bucket list?"
11. DON'T point about your mistakes. If something goes wrong with dinner, just go with it. Improvise or if worse comes to worse, order out a pizza. Laugh it off and move on.
DO laugh it off and move on.
12. DON'T stress so much about all the details that you don't enjoy the evening.
DO relax and have a good time!
DO take time to debrief with your significant other after your guests leave. What went well? What would you change? Were these people you'd like to continue connecting with? If so, how can you make that happen?
DO take a minute that night or the next day to shoot a text to your guests to thank them for coming and to let them know you had a good time hanging out with them. It will make them feel like winners!
I hope these Do's and Don'ts encourage you to just step out and invite someone over -- to find ways to simplify your entertaining so that it's easy and fun and not stressful. Which of these "rules" do you struggle with the most? Which are you going to try to implement? Tell me in the comments below!