“Don’t sit on the bed, I just made it,” “Pick up your shoes, I told you three times already,” “I literally JUST cleaned this room, get out of here,” “Don’t touch a single thing!” Have you said these phrases before as you prepared to welcome guests in your home? We’ve all been there. Frantically running around, trying to hide all traces of life within our homes. But why? Why does the sheer panic of curating the perfect home overcome us when we let others in? Why do we overwhelm ourselves with tasks to simply host a dinner with friends?
I’ve (Jenna) been there many, many times before. I’ve spent hours, if not days, preparing our home to host friends for dinner, simply because I felt as though our home needed to be perfect, left untouched, in order to let them in. Then, by the time our friends arrived, I was worn out and spent hours shaming myself for treating my family so horribly to portray an “image” of perfection when that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Sure, our home looked perfect on the outside, but my insides felt completely different. I let perfection keep me from being present and ultimately, I stopped hosting altogether. I associated hosting and entertaining with overwhelm and that overwhelm got the best of me.
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Leave the Shoes
What if I told you not to move those piles of shoes the next time you invite guests over for dinner? You’re probably shaking your head right now thinking of all the piles of “mess” strung throughout the halls of your home. I hear you! I have them too. From boxes of unopened packages in my front living room to piles of folded laundry in my bedroom, the mess can feel overwhelming and trick you into thinking you cannot invite anyone into the mess because what would they possibly think of you?
Can I tell you a secret? They have a mess too. Yes, they have laundry, piles of shoes, unwashed dishes and most likely are using paper plates just to shave off a few minutes in their day to watch their favorite show of Netflix once the kids go to bed.
So what if you left those pile of shoes? From experience, those shoes tell your friends that you too are human, imperfect, and you care about connecting with them rather than putting on a show for them. Those pile of shoes will help them ease into deeper conversations because they’ll feel more relaxed. Your house will feel more like a home.
ConnectionI define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from a relationship. – Brene Brown
Hack Hosting Overwhelm
The desire to connect with others lead Shannon and I on a journey to hack hosting overwhelm. The distress of not being able to build deeper relationships became a larger burden to carry than the mess within our homes, and we knew there had to be another way. Our grandmothers always host with ease and are present at each gathering. We took notice of the way in which they hacked hosting overwhelm and started putting those #HostfulHacks to the test. If you’re feeling a desire to connect with loved ones in your home or build new deeper relationships, we’re here to tell you it’s possible and it’s simple.
10 Entertaining Essentials to Hack Hosting Overwhelm
This last Sunday, I invited our friends to dinner. Nick was working a 12-hour shift and typically I would never invite friends over on those long work days. Usually, our home is loud as I juggle three kids on my own, and I’d look at hosting a dinner party as an overwhelming task added to my plate. But I took to our Hostful Hack Handbook and these 10 Entertaining Essentials to hack hosting overwhelm and invited them in. And guess what? I didn’t break a sweat, yell at my kids nor burn the bread! I spent quality time with those I love most and the time spent together was so rewarding.
- Mr. Clean Magic Erasers – Clean ahead. Magic Erasers have always been my secret tool to freshen up the spaces my guests typically gather; Guest Bathroom, Living Room and Dining Room. Use these to wipe down doors, light switches and baseboards in high traffic areas that your guests will see and/or use. This should not take you longer than 10 minutes. Start in the guest bathroom and set a timer. If you spent all 10 minutes in the bathroom, pat yourself on the back and move onto the next step!
- Dishwasher Detergent – Run the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher the night before and empty first thing in the morning. Fill with prep dishes throughout the day and dinnerware after dinner.
- Baking Soda – The vacuum hack. Last week, I hired a company to clean our area rugs and upholstery as it was a long time coming but we can’t always afford to have someone clean our rugs each time we host guests in our homes. (but don’t I wish) Sprinkle baking soda on area rugs in high traffic areas. Wait 15 minutes and vacuum up the powder. This will leave rugs and rooms smelling fresh!
- Laundry Basket – Bin or bag it up. AND SHUT THE DOOR. Walk through your home and fill a laundry basket with odds and ends that you do not have time to put away. For me, it’s typically toys that belong upstairs or unfolded laundry. Simply place the bin or laundry basket in an inconspicuous place and shut the door.
- Baking Dish – Choose a family-style recipe you can prepare a day before and cook or simmer the day of. Clean the kitchen when you’re done cooking and wake up on the day of your gathering to a tidied kitchen, ready to host! You’ll find yourself spending less time in the kitchen and more time with loved ones.
- Bath Hand Towel – Designate a guest bathroom. There was a time I would clean every single bathroom and bedroom in our home only for guests to never walk in there. I quickly realized I was wasting my time and my efforts. Simply designate a guest bathroom. If you do not have time to deep clean, wipe down surfaces quickly and replace your hand towel. If it helps, only use this hand towel for guests. Once you’re done hosting, wash the towel and place in your linen closet until your next gathering. This will keep the towel fresh and it will last longer.
- Hand Soap – While you’re in the guest bathroom, do not forget to refill the hand soap!
- Throw Blanket – Turn your house into a home. Consider your five senses when setting the ambiance within your home. For a sense of touch and coziness, add throw blankets in areas your guests will migrate towards; Back Patio, Couch, Dining Table, etc.
- Candle – Speaking of our five senses, candles ignite our sense of smell and sight. Greet guests with scented, seasonal candles/oils as they enter each room. Just remember to set them high if you’ll have little ones running around!
- Pitcher – The water hack. Fill a carafe or pitcher with fresh drinking water and chill the night before. Set on the table during dinner so no one has to get up for refills. More time at the table equals more time together.
At the end of the day, remember all that matters is time spent with one another. Your friends are not coming over to see your house. They are there for you. So give them that – all of you – present and imperfect – mess and all.