For some, the simple thought of entertaining guests in their home, brings them out in a hot sweat. Whether your worried about making everything perfect, having the house spotless or are concerned that people won’t enjoy themselves, most of these fears around entertaining are misplaced.
Part of the trouble is that you are focusing your energy in the wrong place. The reason for entertaining is to spend quality time with loved ones. You are offering your home, as a place to enjoy food, beverages and conversations. The style, shape or form of those offerings doesn’t really matter as long as everyone feels comfortable and is well looked after.
It’s not about having the latest dinnerware or being able to cook the most amazing meal, its about connection. The sooner you can put your perfectionism aside and forget your fears and inhibitions, the sooner you can relax and enjoy the art of entertaining!
Here is a list of 5 common fears and how to overcome them:
1. Finding the time. Most of us tend to live fairly busy lifestyle’s and if you wonder how you will find the time to organise everything, rest assured you can. You just need to plan ahead. Prepare as much as you can in advance to avoid doing everything last minute. Decorations, snacks and beverages can all be bought in advance. You can set your table one or two days before your dinner party or arrange your furniture, set up the bar area and hang props a few days before your big shindig. You can even prepare menu items in advance with thoughtful planning.
2. Expecting your party to be perfect. Stressing yourself out too much over specifics and trying to make everything perfect will mean that you won’t enjoy yourself as much as you could. You don’t want to spending all night fussing, you want to be having a great time with your guests. Thinking your house isn’t good enough or you can’t cook a michelin starred meal is just holding you back from sharing some special moments with people that are important to you. Go easy on yourself. Allowing yourself to relax will help your guests to relax too.
3. Lacking confidence. You may feel a bit shy or inexperienced to entertain guests. You may like the idea of entertaining but not know where to start. So start out small and simple. Invite a small group of close friends over and ask them to bring their favourite dish. This will take the pressure off having to cook everything and will also be a conversation starter as each guest can proudly talk about their dish. Ask a more experienced friend to help you host if it will make you feel more at ease.
4. Worrying that your guests won’t have a good time. You simply need to look after your guests to make them feel comfortable. Feed them well, have plenty to drink and engage with them and they will be sure to have a good time. Remember you are inviting your friends and loved ones and the common bond they have is YOU. Once you have introduced them to each other, they will generally happily chat amongst themselves. Consider inviting a friend that enjoys being the life of the party, they will be sure to help keep your guests entertained.
5. Getting overwhelmed by stress. This all-consuming fear is probably the most common. Will people come? Will I forget anything? Will I enjoy myself? The best way to combat this is with preparation. Rely on checklists to stay organised. Ticking off the list as you go will remind yourself that you have everything under control. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Give friends or family tasks to complete to lower your tasks and help eliminate stress.
As you can see, whether it be inexperience or perfectionism that holds you back from entertaining at home, there is a solution to help you along the way. You can be assured through careful planning, asking for help and truly considering your guests’ comfort, that you are more than capable of hosting a special occasion in your home that both you and your guests can enjoy.
If you have a celebration on the horizon and would like more party planning advice, you can purchase a copy of Julie’s book – The High-Heeled Hostess – Mastering the art of entertaining at home. It features a step-by-step guide that helps you plan, execute and most importantly, offers the reader the assurance that they will have a good time too!