Opening Your Home
For some, the thought of hosting a gathering in their home brings excitement and joy! For others, it can bring on instant anxiety, and leave the upcoming hostess feeling instantly overwhelmed at what all is to come. No matter the initial reaction to hosting, I think it's safe to say that the few days leading up to this gathering, we're all constantly making mental lists and checking off the boxes, hoping we're not forgetting anything. Fear not! As someone who loves to entertain from my home, I've compiled a list of some of my greatest tips and reminders for opening your home! Some things may be a little obvious, but let's be real, it's always the most obvious things that we end up forgetting about. So grab your party planning notebook, pour a glass of wine, and take as many notes as you see fit!
Opening up your home is actually a pretty vulnerable thing. This is you and your family's personal safe haven - it's your space! It can be easy to walk around your home and pick out all of the things that you wish were different. Pinterest and Instagram are really good at making all of us feel like are homes just aren't good enough. I love walking into the IKEA shows rooms and grazing through Pottery Barn as much as any gal, but sometimes walking into a home that looks like a page from a magazine can feel a little stuffy, so it's perfectly okay if your home looks nothing like 'Better Homes' centerfold. I want my friends and family to feel comfy when they enter my home! I like to create a 'take your shoes off and stay awhile' kind of vibe for my company. An easy way to do this is to make sure your home looks neat and picked up, but lived in. For example, I always make sure my house is clean and tidy, but you will surely spot some overflowing toy bins and a few cute throw blankets lying on couch (not folded neatly, either - just kind of.. there) along we other 'we live here' clues.
Another sure way to make your home more inviting and cozy is the aroma your guests will be greeted with when they enter. I personally prefer using several scents that are similar, but just slightly different, and sprinkling them throughout my home. It's important to note, though, that not everyone enjoys a heavily scented oasis. In fact, some people can be extremely sensitive to fragrance, to the point of even developing migraines or feeling nauseous. If you're unsure of your guests' preferences, but still want to create a cozy vibe via smell, I've found that you can't go wrong with scents mimicking baked goods. These scents tend to be a little softer, and not as strong or 'perfume-y' as a scent with more floral notes. Most candles and wax melts are easy to find in these yummy-smelling themes, but if you're not into artificial fragrances, check out some online essential oil recipes that, once diffused, will smell good enough to eat!
Speaking of eating, let's talk about food. This tends to be what I hear most people stressing about when it comes to entertaining. My number one tip here - everyone loves a good dip! I'm talking any and all dips - savory, sweet, salsas, you name it. If you can dip a cracker in it, regular or graham, it's bound to be a crowd pleaser! Normally, dips can be fairly quick and easy to throw together, and Pinterest has plenty of ideas for you. Also, crock pots are your friend! Especially during the winter months, a warm dip is the perfect appetizer to have waiting for your guests who are coming inside from the cold. Also, don't be afraid of using store bought dishes. Cooking isn't for everyone, and even it's something you enjoy, sometimes there just isn't enough time. Not only can you buy crowd pleasing side dishes - and even entrées - at your local grocery store, lots of restaurants will whip up the whole shebang for you, talk about a stress free meal plan! There's no shame in getting a little help and cutting a few corners for dinner, especially if it means one more thing you can check off of your list.
When is comes to drinks, variety is important! If serving alcohol, be sure to have a fun non-alcoholic option as well. This might sounds obvious, but the bigger tip here is make sure this option isn't something boring or bland like water or coffee (although I do recommend having both of these available as well!), make sure the virgin option is just as exciting! There are so many recipes online for mixed drinks that can be made individually or in batches, that don't include alcohol. When in doubt, you can usually use normal drink recipes that include alcohol, and just substitute the alcohol for a sparking wine or cider.
Now, I know that earlier I mentioned allowing your house to look a bit 'lived in' and not so modelesque in order to make your guests feel more cozy and at home. Well, this tip applies to every room in your home except one; the bathroom. In my opinion, your bathroom should be the cleanest spot in your home, especially when opening your doors to friends and family. Nothing is more uncomfortable than visiting a friend who has a gross and messy bathroom, and I know we've all been there! The floor should be clean, and you should have a fresh and emptied garbage bin; no one wants to see your trash, especially in the restroom! Wipe down the counters with a cleaner that leaves a fresh and clean aroma, clean your toilet until it sparkles, and be sure to have a good stock of restroom amenities for your guests. Having several hand towels, a full jar of hand soap, plenty of toilet paper, and scent maskers like 'poopourri' or air fresheners probably sound like obvious tips, but you'd be surprised at what things you forget while running short on time with a high stress level.
No matter what you do to prepare your home for entertaining, the most important thing to keep in mind is to enjoy your company. Don't let any of the stressors that sometimes come with hosting make you so anxious that you aren't able to enjoy yourself. Whether you're hosting a full on holiday party, or just catching up with a couple of old friends, the quality time that you'll be spending with them, while creating new memories, is what they will remember most. Even if you use none of the tips I've given you above, keep this one in mind - just relax! If you forget to turn the crockpot on, or you have no lighter/matches to light the candles you picked out especially for this day, the party will go on. Even if you run out of toilet paper or can't find your wine opener, it will surely be a story you get to laugh about with your friends for years to come! Now, get to pinning some food and drink recipes to your Pinterest, clean that bathroom, pray for your guests before they arrive, and put on a pot of coffee. You got this!