A couple of years ago, I sat down and wrote this manifesto to REMIND MYSELF of why I should & how I can reduce stress before having people over. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and hosting parties – especially of the indoor variety – is kinda taboo…but I miss it. I might have even been daydreaming lately about having housefuls of people mingling and eating and laughing and fellowshipping (and not worrying about germs). The holidays just aren’t going to be the same BUT I know we’re doing the right thing (my husband is in healthcare, so we are pretty careful – we see how the hospitals can easily be overloaded and the flu hasn’t really even hit yet). ANYWAY, enough pandemic talk – let’s talk about hospitality, our monthly theme. (And hope that by NEXT Christmas, Lord willing, we’ll be celebrating BIG once again.) Entertaining others in our homes by having parties and dinners is just a little part of Biblical hospitality as a whole, but they are something that brings people together and creates bonds and memories, so I believe they’re beautifully important. It’s become just as important to me in the last few years to concentrate more on stress-free party planning. If you’re a frequent hostess, you’ll understand. 😉 I hope this list is helpful for you as well!
A note to myself, immediately after hosting a party:
1. Yes, you should still have parties. They’re fun, they serve as blessings to others. But since you make a habit of trying to do too much in too short a time, you don’t enjoy the party itself as much as you could. Let’s remind ourselves (ourself??) that we tend to get rather frazzled right towards the end and let’s just take it easier on ourselves next time, shall we?
2. Clean the house (and FINISH cleaning the house) by two days before your party. Don’t glance over the little messes and clutter and think, “This won’t take long to put away. It can wait until tomorrow.” YOU ARE TOO OPTIMISTIC, sister. Do your future self a favor and just get it done early. You are forgetting that setting a pretty table takes time and that cooking takes time and that you also need plenty of sleep to function with a good attitude.
3. If you’re having young kids over, remember that our house is not kid-proofed, and take a few minutes to put breakable things up out of reach. And have some toys at the ready for them to play with. Their parents will thank you.
4. If you are planning to finish a regular home project before having company over, as we are wont to do (i.e., as simple as redoing the mantel décor or more involved, like painting a kitchen cabinet, say) set a goal to have it complete by ONE WEEK before the party. Then, even if you’re running a little late, you should still have a few days to play with, without cutting into your regular party prep time. OR – if that is impossible, make the menu and decorations themselves super simple. Nothing new. Maybe just takeout pizza and cute paper plates. Not everything has to be fancy! Same with other life events. Things happen. You’re busy. Take it easy on yourself sometimes.
5. But if you have time, funds, and the inclination to decorate, do it the day before the party. Set the silverware and everything. Just think…you’ll have a clean house, a party-ready table, and plenty of time to cook on the Day of the Party. And enough time to take a shower, wash your hair, let it dry naturally for an hour, and not having to call for Jeremy to answer the door because you’re frantically finishing up with the hairdryer. Um, that’s not optimal. But it’s happened more than twice. Let’s get it together, girl.
6. Ask for help. Don’t try to make the whole dinner yourself. I know you can. You do it all the time for just Jeremy and yourself. BUT. This is not the same. You will have extra things to do that you’re forgetting right now in the throes of party-planning. Again, YOU ARE TOO OPTIMISTIC. I cannot stress this enough. 😉 Make a menu, tell people the 2-3 items you are making (if 3, at least 1 you can make the day before) and then ask them to fill in the gaps. Have easy suggestions handy if they need some inspiration.
7. Try not to make more than one thing that has to be in the oven last minute, as guests are arriving. Because, lady, don’t forget that your mama’s famous wheat rolls will need to be in the oven, too, super-super last-minute. Because we like them hot with butter.
8. Get thee a warming tray.
9. Make sure to unload the dishwasher early in the day on Party Day, so that any dishes you may dirty up will have an immediate home and out of the sink/off the counter. If you don’t, the kitchen will look like a disaster zone and your guests might have an anxiety attack when they come to return their plate to the sink after dinner.
10. Be sure to spend time in Bible study on the morning of Party Day. Let the immersion in His Word remind you of what’s really important in life and set your mind to focus on those things above all else. If you need to read the story of Mary and Martha, that might be appropriate. 😉 Just remember that Mary “chose the better part.” Here’s your chance to choose the better part, too. And then get your Martha apron on and get ready for visitors!
11. And most of all, don’t you dare reread this list and decide, “Nah, it’s not worth it.” 😉 Because it is. I know you believe that. Just take a minute to breathe, tune in to your current situation in life – and frame of mind – and decide what you can/can’t accomplish in your allotted time period…and then, most importantly, talk to God about your worries and ask for His help with opening your home for hospitality. This is something He wants you to do to bless others in your life. But He doesn’t want it to turn into something you’re doing for the wrong reasons. And He would want to remind you that taking on too much at once tempts you to become impatient and unloving in your attitude.
He knows that you can find a balance and become a much-less-frazzled hostess next time. Hence this list. Be wise, sister. I believe in us!
P.S. Here’s a free iPhone wallpaper that Christy made us! Managing my stress definitely helps with that grumbling problem! 😉