I’ve got a houseful of family here right now, and more will be trickling in over the weekend – by the time all is said and done and the house is packed for New Year’s Eve, there will be at least 18 kids and almost as many adults here. And most of them are staying for the weekend.
I love having people over at my house. What I don’t love is the idea of stressing out over details instead of taking time to enjoy my guests! While maybe one day I’ll have room in my life for elaborate menus and delicate centerpieces, right now, taking a much more low-key approach ensures that I can relax and enjoy great conversation instead of spending the weekend stressing out. Here are four things that make me a happier hostess:
- Focus on what’s important. I don’t stock guest rooms with baskets full of little soap…because I don’t have a guest room. And fuzzy robes for each guest just aren’t in the budget right now. But I can make sure every bathroom has enough toilet paper, that there are clean towels and plenty of hand soap, that there’s plenty to eat and drink and that everyone has a warm, comfortable place to sleep (elder relatives and moms sharing beds with young children get the comfiest digs!) Our guest accommodations aren’t exactly luxurious, but I figure as long as nobody goes hungry, shivers all night or has an awkward bathroom moment, they’ve got everything they need to have a good time.
- Look out for #1. A stressed-out, grumpy hostess is no fun for anyone. So even though I go into caretaker mode when there are people under my roof, I also make sure I get enough sleep, eat, and get in a shower while guests are here. I’ve been known to help myself to a quick bite to eat in the kitchen before officially serving! I also retreat to my room for a little while every day…a sleepy toddler makes a perfect excuse.
- Let people help. I’m definitely not the hostess shooing other people out of the kitchen…if you want to load the dishwasher, by all means! Making a run to the store? Yes, I’ll give you a $20 bill and a list. And if you ask if there’s something you can bring, I’m not too proud to give you a few suggestions.
- Keep it simple. Take a menu, decorating plan or itinerary with lots of moving parts and add kids, and you’re just asking for things to fall apart. Finger foods and one-pot meals like soup (that’s what’s on our NYE menu) make my life easier. And I don’t worry about how well the wine or beer choices pair with the foods I’ve got planned…I just get what I know people like. So far, I’ve had no complaints.
My low-key approach to entertaining may not earn me any hospitality awards, but I enjoy myself enough that I keep inviting people back…and they keep coming back, so I figure it’s working out!
How do you stay happy – and have fun! – when you’ve got guests?
Like this post? Check out my Happiest Mom post on making family and friends feel welcome!