About a month ago, I asked my Facebook friends' these questions regarding hospitality:
"I enjoy hosting hospitality's, but, it's something that I really have to try at. I have two specific questions: How do you become more hospitable when you weren't raised "that way" AND hosting people when your house is small and parking is limited."
Seems I'm not alone! Their answers were eye opening and encouraging. Here's what they had to say:
Crystal:I've heard that the book The Reluctant Entertainer is great by Sandy Coughlin. And Open Heart, Open Home by Karen Mains. I've got the same issues.
Heather:IDK, I love to entertain and will do so even when my home is not very clean. Usually those times are reserved for my GURLZ who do not care, but if it's 2 hours till time, every room gets a 5 Minute Room Rescue and that's that.
As far as having a small home & limited parking, I really don't have a lot of experience with that. Do you have a yard or are you in an apartment complex? If I were faced with that I would simply include a note on the invitation asking folks to carpool. Especially if you're using an internet-based e-vite type service. Usually, when you're inviting people over, several know each other. I would feel completely comfortable asking whomever I knew closest - personally, in a phone call because verbal is better than electronic for this kind of thing because it's more personal - to let me know if they know who's close to whom, who would they be willing to bring, etc. As a direct sales consultant, I encourage my hostesses to ask their guests to carpool. It's more fun because the party starts sooner and lasts longer for those folks, plus it's a boost for attendance.
Don't feel shy about having any of your younger guests sit on the floor. Buy some good throw pillows for just such occasions and buy space bags to store them.
Dawn:We have a VERY small house (like 800 sq ft)...but a large yard. We try to have folks over when we can eat outside. We have also become very creative on how we entertain inside the house. We eat in the living room as it is the biggest room of the house. Then after we eat, we move the tables and sit around in a circle. Some on the couch, some on chairs from eating. I can *TOTALLY RELATE* to the "not raised that way" part! I do not entertain like Martha Stewart would but everyone seems to enjoy it!
Lori:I was not raised that way either. Several things I have worked on. I try hard to remember to greet people warmly at the door and make them feel welcome, whether they were invited guests or my children's friends stopping by. I work at trying... to keep extra food and drinks on hand. I keep frozen lemonade stocked in the freezer and have worked hard on putting together a quick meal at the spur of the moment with whatever I have on hand. Also, have learned to add to a ready to serve meal when suddenly someone drops by. Open up a jar of applesauce. Grab another loaf of bread or pkg of rolls from the freezer, etc. to stretch the meal.Bonfires are a great way to have a bunch of people over even if your house can't fit them all.
Dawnmarie:We entertain a lot. A few small pieces of advise that I could give would be this.
1. Friends will go to visit you, not to critique your home, so try not to stress in that area.
2. Encourage people to carpool or find a nearby place where people can park and have a DD give rides to your home.
3. The more that you entertain, the easier that it can be. Being hospitable, like many things, is something that you can train yourself to be.
4. For meals, if there is not enough sit-down space for everyone, finger foods are fantastic for people to munch while standing around.
5. Relax. Do not be so busy trying to entertain that you spend the whole time being harried and do not enjoy the occasion yourself.
6. When people offer to help clean afterward...let them! It will make things easier for you later.
7. Remember that the time if for fun and fellowship, so relax and let it be just that. 8^)
Sheri: I used to struggle at that too - now I always offer to host events, parties, and groups. Several things I learned - don't expect your house to be perfect, no one else expects that, either. Simplify your menus and do as much as you can ahead... of time to lessen the stress. Potlucks are easier so you don't have to buy everything. Use paper and plastic plates and utensils, and buy them in bulk so you'll always have them on hand. Be sure to have plenty of food - we learned the hard way that running out of food is very, very bad. I always way over-plan, and have lots of extras in my freezer that can be quickly heated up and served.
Oh, and one reason I love FlyLady - my house is never perfect, but it is usually only about 15 minutes away from being clean enough for company. My kids all know the drill as well and always pitch in to get things company ready.
Samantha: I would gladly accept just a class of ice water offered in love.