5 Reasons Why You’re Avoiding Hosting
Entertaining is something many of us enjoy. Personally, I love hosting Christmas lunches, family BBQ’s and the good old fashion dinner parties. Nothing beats having the dining table set, with beautiful aromas of the meal cooking and soft music playing. Some people just seem to have a built-in party planner, everything they do looks and tastes amazing. Other people, like myself, had to work really hard to create that type of entertaining environment. After 10 years of practicing and trying out lots of ways, I’ve put together the tips and tricks that I’ve found work best. Be the host you’ve always dreamed of.
Things that hold us back from hosting..
And why they shouldn’t
I’m not really a good cook
If this is a fear you have, there are many options. In this day and age almost everything has a short cut. If cooking isn’t your thing, supermarkets have a lot of pre-made or half made options. Therefore, you don’t have to order take away or get frozen meals, you can create a home cooked meal with things like the pre-made slow cooked meats. Woolworths and Coles have a great selection of recipes on their website that are easy and quick. Slow cooking meals is also a fool proof way of creating a perfectly cooked meal. If the pressure of cooking for a large number of people seems like too much, try organising a themed dinner party, where everyone brings a dish. That way, you don’t have to worry about having all of the pressure on you.
My house isn’t nice enough to have guests over
If you worry that you’re not keeping up with the Joneses and you’re not fancy enough to have a classy dinner party, it's not true! As long as you are clean and tidy, you can create a beautiful inviting atmosphere, just follow the tips to come.
- Have some nice, scented candles lit. Walking into a room with a pleasant smell is known to instantly improve our moods and helps create an inviting environment. Also have dinner pre-cooked, this will fill your home with the pleasant aromas of delicious food, as well as freeing up time once your guests arrive.
- Clutter is unnecessary and can create the impression that our homes are messy, even when they are clean. Making the effort to remove clutter can make the world of difference (trust me, I’m a clutter queen). I have no idea how I keep accumulating it, but when I remove it, I feel clearer in my head and my home looks a million times better, cleaner and more fresh. A cluttered home overwhelms our brains. Less clutter will give you less to clean up and will add to the creation of the perfect atmosphere.
- Clean, clean, clean. I can’t express the importance and difference a nice tidy house can make. To add some extra homely touches, have some hand soap and clean hand towels available. Matching dinnerware can also be a nice addition with some napkins on the dinner table.
Is my house too small
With apartment living on the rise and big property becoming a thing of the past, having the fear that you can't fit everyone, is a valid fear. Remember, people are not coming over to be in your house, they are coming to enjoy your company.
- Having a small house can have its challenges, but there are always ways around these. A great way to accommodate for extra guests is to have an extendable table, these are fantastic for instant extra seating. Having easy to store, fold up chairs can be a great addition also.
Having the food prepared before the guests arrive can help avoid having people getting in the way and avoid that claustrophobic feeling.
Making sure your house is clean will really help the place feel more spacious. Removing unnecessary furniture or décor for the evening can help open up the dining area. Sometimes you may need to extend your dining room into the lounge room to make things work.
What if I can’t keep my guests entertained
If you're not a big talker and dread the idea of awkward silence, then preparation is key.
- Have soft upbeat music playing in the background. This way if you do run out of things to talk about, you at least won’t hear crickets. Music is also a great way to naturally lift the mood and enhance the ideal dining experience.
Board games are always a good way to keep everyone entertained and interacting. They’re also a great way to bond with your guests. If you are a bit tech savvy, another great game to play is Jack Box. Jack Box is a quiz-based party game where everyone connects their phones, tablets or computers to the T.V - check it out here "Jack Box" It will give you and your guests a great laugh.
- Most people love to talk about themselves, so don’t be afraid to ask them questions, such as where did they grow up? How did they meet their partner? What they do for work? What kind of hobbies do they have? etc. Topics that you should avoid are immunisation, politics and religion. These topics can be very sensitive to some people and can cause tension you don’t really want at your dinner party.
What if I"m too busy hosting, I miss out
It can be a big job juggling cooking, cleaning and entertaining for everyone. Again, the best way to prevent this is preparation. It can be overwhelming taking the responsibility of keeping a crowd of people entertained and fed. It’s best to try not overthinking it, remember you’re hosting a dinner party and not putting on a theatre performance. It’s not solely up to you to entertain everyone. It’s about enjoying each-others company. That being said, you can still lessen the workload.
- Set the table before all your guests arrive. In this photo you can see an example of the correct way to set your dining table.
- Have platters, nibbles, drinks and desserts pre-made so heating and serving is all that is required when guests are there.
- If you followed the above steps by making sure your home is clean before having guests over, the after clean should be pretty easy. It shouldn’t require much more than the dishes being done and wiping down the table and bench tops. Realistically, it really is only around a 15 minute job, especially if your guests help. It’s entirely up to you if you’d prefer to do it whilst your guests are there, or if you’re happy to just stack it up in the kitchen and finish off when your guests leave. Either way it should be a pretty quick and easy task.
Start preparing for your next dinner party now
Declutter your house - This doesn’t have to be the overwhelming task that it may feel like. If thinking about tackling the unorganised spaces in your house turns you off hosting, forget the pressure of hosting temporarily. Focus on one step at a time, start decluttering 5 minutes a day, one space at a time. You will be pleasantly surprised with the power of 5 minutes. We all have jobs that linger in the back of our minds, that if we just took the leap and did it, we’d be surprised that it only ended up taking 5 minutes. Sometimes we have jobs that are no surprise that they will be much more than just 5 minutes. If that’s the case, section it off and do it piece by piece. You will feel a great sense of achievement when it has been one week, and you have tackled a 35 minute job 5 minutes at a time. Once you’ve finished with the decluttering you can start thinking about the next step to hosting the perfect dinner party.
Plan your menu - When planning the menu, take your time and consider your strengths and weaknesses. Think about foods that you enjoy and that you enjoy making. If you specialise in a dish that your family loves, there is a good chance your guests will love it too! So, this might be a good starting point for ideas. Also consider what cooking equipment you own and the sizing of your oven or BBQ, to make sure you’ll be able to keep and heat all the food you consider cooking. It’s also important to remember your fridge space. if you lack fridge space, you may just need to think of ideas that don’t require refrigerating.
- Prepare your entertainment - Making a playlist of the music types that will suit the genre and mood you are trying to create is a good way to prevent songs that won’t fit the vibe you’re trying to create accidentally coming on. Have some back up board games on hand in-case the night starts to go a little flat. If you don’t have a huge range of board games, it may be worth borrowing some from a family member or friend, as board games can be pricey, especially if they are just for a backup plan. Or you could look at playing simple card games or phone games, such as ‘Heads Up’, by Ellen DeGeneres.
OK it’s time to take action
Once you’ve ticked all these boxes, it’s time to take the leap and send out those invites.
Remember all good things take practice. So, although it may seem like a huge job at first, after a couple of dinners it will become second nature and you can enjoy the perks of being the ideal host. All this being said, it’s important to remember you are your biggest critic, so don’t be too harsh on yourself. And more than anything, people remember how things made them feel so the end goal is not so much perfection but to have fun and make it enjoyable.