Wanna know one of my biggest goals for this year?
To give up entertaining.
That probably sounds crazy coming from someone who talks all about inviting people over, but you heard me right. I’m giving up entertaining, and I’m not even sorry about it.
In fact, I want you to give up entertaining, too. Here are four reasons why.
Giving up Entertaining
1. Entertaining makes you feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses (or Martha Stewart).
If you’ve ever looked up “dinner party” or “entertaining” on Pinterest or looked through a Better Homes and Garden magazine, you know exactly what I mean. Everything in our culture tells us that when we invite someone over, everything should be beautiful and put-together.
You should make a gourmet meal presented with a beautiful centerpiece, an ironed tablecloth, place settings, candles, and flowers — and let’s throw in some cute mason jars with raffia tied around them, too.
My heart’s starting to beat fast just thinking about all those expectations.
2. Entertaining says you have to be good at ALL the things.
Another reason I’m giving up entertaining is because entertaining requires you to be a gourmet cook, a housekeeper extraordinaire, an interior designer, an amazing conversationalist, and a party planner.
I don’t know about you, but I’m only good at one or two of those things. Sometimes the thought of entertaining makes me feel less than.
Do you feel that way?
Maybe you’re not a good cook. Or you’re an introvert so conversation doesn’t come naturally to you.
When I feel less than, I don’t want to invite anyone over because then they’ll see all of the ways that I don’t excel as a hostess. Like how I forgot to put away the board games cluttering the counter. Or didn’t serve my food in a creative way.
3. Entertaining gives you performance anxiety.
Do they like the chicken?
Why didn’t they comment on how pretty everything looked?
Do they think I’m a good hostess?
Entertaining gives you performance anxiety because that’s exactly what it feels like — a performance.
And if inviting someone over becomes an event or like putting on a show, it’s easy to find yourself feeling stage fright and constantly wondering what your guests are thinking. And that’s exhausting.
In fact, it’s enough to keep you from inviting people over very often.
4. Entertaining can be inauthentic.
You know how when you look on Facebook or Instagram, your friend’s feed is full of pictures of her family playing together and making happy memories? You don’t see pictures of the kids fighting or the dishes she left out overnight because she was too tired to wash them.
When you “entertain,” you are putting up that highlight reel that makes you look perfect, just like on Facebook or Instagram. You make sure your house is perfectly clean, your meal is impressive, your presentation is beautiful, and your kids are perfectly mannered.
But who actually lives like that? NO ONE. At least not me. I’m tired of entertaining forcing me to pretend to be someone I’m not.
So I’m giving up entertaining.
I don’t want to be the “hostess with the mostess.” I don’t want to worry about what my guests think of my cooking or housecleaning. I don’t want to act like I have it all together when I don’t.
I just want to be me.
Committing to People-Centered Hospitality
That’s why instead of entertaining, I’m committing to people-centered hospitality. And here are 4 reasons why.
1. Hospitality lets you be you.
You don’t have to try to be good at all the things. Just be who you are.
Good at cooking but not so great at housekeeping? Then make a knock-out meal (and leave the perfect house for someone else).
Flower arrangements bring you joy? Then make a beautiful flower arrangement for the middle of your table.
Love to make your food pretty but not a great cook? Use store-bought food and make a beautiful food presentation.
Don’t stress about doing ALL the things well. Do the things that you’re good at and enjoy — and let the other things go. Hospitality breeds authenticity because you can just be you without the pressure of trying to be something you’re not.
2. Hospitality says, “Just enough” is good enough.
If you struggle with expectations of perfection, then let “just enough” and “good enough” become your new mantras.
Clean your house just enough. Don’t shoot for perfection (if you’re a mom, like me, you’ll never get there with kids living in your house).
Cook a good enough meal. It doesn’t have to be gourmet.
Embrace the size of your house. It’s good enough to invite a few people over, even if it’s just a couple at a time.
Ease up on those expectations. Don’t let the idea of perfection keep you from ever experiencing the joy of connecting with others over a good meal.
3. Hospitality focuses on your guests instead of you.
When you’re entertaining, you’re worried about how you’re going to look and your meal and what your guests think of you. But when you extend hospitality, you focus on your guests instead.
You’re still doing the the same things like cooking, cleaning, and making conversation, but the difference is that you’re doing them to honor your guests, not to try and impress them.
Do you see that simple shift in mindset?
Hospitality allows you to focus on relationship instead of tasks. It means your evening is a success, not if you made the perfect meal, but if you connected with your guests.
The Year of Hospitality
Do you see why I’m giving up entertaining? It’s because the whole reason why I want to invite people over in the first place is to build friendships and community. I want to get to know the people around me and those who are involved in my kids’ lives. I want to spend the evening listening to stories and laughing together. And at the end of the evening, I want to feel like we connected.
Entertaining makes you feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses and be good at all the things. It gives you performance anxiety and is inauthentic. Hospitality is authentic and focused on relationship.
People are the reason we “entertain”. Not all that other stuff. So, will you join me in making this year the year you focus on people-centered hospitality?
Look around you and find one person you want to invite over in the next few weeks. And then do it. But make it easy for yourself. Make a meal from my post about how to plan a casual dinner party menu, clean your house just enough, and enjoy an evening with a friend. And most importantly, choose hospitality over entertaining.