Now that we've been in our new, mega-mondo house for a few months, we've had the opportunity to host several events, some of them large-scale, some of them small. I've always enjoyed entertaining and have dived into it with even greater effort since the move. I thought I'd share a few things I've learned about host/essing over the years, such as...
1. Being a good hostess is, in part, a lot like being a good waitress. Does anyone need more wine? Have we run out of forks or ice? A well-provisioned guest is a happy guest. This is the behind-the-scenes stuff that people shouldn't even notice. The wine and the forks should just keep appearing, like loaves and fishes out of your proverbial basket. So your job is to a.) be prepared by having more than enough of everything to begin with, b.) notice when a lack appears, and c.) then do something about it.
2. Hosting is an honor, and oddly enough can be a very humbling experience. You'd think that as the person showcasing her fabulous house and entertaining dozens of people with (hopefully) some charm and grace, I'd feel some smug superiority. Yes, you peons, enjoy my abundance for this one evening before you go back to your squalor. For me, it is rather the opposite. I feel so humbled that all these people would even want to come to my house, so blessed that God has gifted us this house and allowed us to be the ones opening it to so many people, so pleased and satisfied to be living the dream of entertaining large groups. As people left an event we recently hosted, they were all saying thank you, almost as though they had inconvenienced us or were indebted to us, and I found myself responding with the phrase "my pleasure." I never use this phrase because it always seems to come off insincere and reminds me of Chick Fil-A, where they make their employees say this instead of "you're welcome" (and I just have a hard time believing it's truly their pleasure to get me more Polynesian sauce). But truly, it is a pleasure to provide the space for people to deepen their relationships with each other and enjoy themselves--for that place to be our home is a remarkable gift.
3. Forgive and forget. People are going to cancel 15 minutes prior to an event you've already paid good money and spent good time preparing for them to attend. They're going to grind Cheetos into your carpet and "forget" to tell you about it. And someday, someone is going to drop a serious deuce in your bathroom during a party. This comes with the territory, so if you're going to continue to host events (and enjoy it) you just gotta deal. Like anything else in life, there are drawbacks. But in my mind, being a gracious hostess is a ministry, a little way of extending an attribute of God to others. God always throws his arms wide, accepts us just as we are, and says, "With me, you are home." I know I want to be treated this way--and I know I would want to be invited back for next year's party even after the dropping of a great and terrible deuce.
4. It's not a party without food--good food. Inviting people to a "party" and providing a $5 Little Caesar's Hot-N-Ready reminds me of the words of the immortal Judge Judy: "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." If I'm calling it a party, I'm going to spring for at least two Hot-N-Readys. Or maybe a carefully selected menu of tasty goodies.
5. Last but not least, vacuum afterward, not before. No one's looking at your carpet. Unless it's covered with crushed Doritos. Then vacuum before and after, because those can really stick in your toes. Word to the wise.