I’m going to say something you might not like.
Your house? Yeah… it’s not just for you.
Wait… what? What do I mean by that? Well if you’re a person who knows other people, it’s for them too – it can be anyone. Do you know anyone? Just one person other than the one(s) already living in your house?
At some point in your life, you might have that person or those people over to your home, and you want to make them feel welcome and good. This was a major source of anxiety and stress for me this Summer when Alex and I agreed to host a small group session with our church family once a week for a month. I was a bit of wreck the first night we hosted, but I learned a few things along the way and I thought I’d share them with you.
5 Ways to Be a Better Hostess
1. Stop stressing about every. little. thing.
Yeah… I never would have taken this advice all those weeks ago because I was too busy stressing about every little thing! But remember when I did my Blog Podium recap and I mentioned that the ever so wise Sarah Richardson said that if you’re comfortable in your home other people will be too? Well she’s totally right. The more at easy you feel the better. The less you apologize for things not being just right and perfect the better. Your friends are not coming to your house to judge you, and if they are, well then they’re not your friends, are they? So STOP over-thinking. It took me about 3 weeks to start really getting this…
2. Think function over beauty
People will probably care LESS about what your coasters look like and more about how close to them they actually are when they want to set a drink down. They care less about how your napkins are folded and more about whether they’re easily accessible and close to the food. I tried to set up a food area and a drinks area on two separate surfaces of the kitchen. I think it worked well because no one ever had to be waiting for someone else to finish preparing their tea to get to the yummy snacks.
3. Have everything out in the open
K I don’t mean like EVERY thing… I mean like the tea spoons, and the milk, and the plates, etc. Why? Because you might be cool saying to someone “Oh yeah you can just go ahead and get some juice from the fridge,” but your guest may feel strange and uncomfortable about doing that. I strongly believe that when you have people at your house, especially if for the first time, you should be kind enough to get things for them AND make sure they don’t have to ask for it. Making coffee? Sugar, spoons, milk, cream, any other fancy schmancy flavouring or whatnots people might like? All out there. I personally think this is important because I feel most comfortable at someone’s home when I can help myself without having to open doors and feel like I’m prying.
4. Know that not everyone likes your dog (or any other pet)
Before having everyone over, I pre-warned my soon to be guests that we have a crazy, wild dog and that he will jump and try to steal food and request your attention at all times. He’s harmless, he just loves people so much. And he doesn’t get that not everyone loves him back. Thankfully everyone understood his wild ways, and one of our dear friends even graciously laughed when he ran off into the backyard with her glasses in his mouth… It takes a special kind of person to just laugh that off. I did find it important to let people know what kind of pup he is, though and I tried to make sure he was introduced to each person (especially the kids that came) in as delicate a manner as possible. Luther doesn’t do delicate very well…
5. Consider the atmosphere
We usually had some music playing in the background when guests first arrived and eventually turned it off when our discussion started. This is great just as a way to add a feeling of fullness to the room when the first few guests arrive and it’s still a bit quieter. We also had chairs laid out in our living room (always more chairs than people) so no one felt awkward coming in to find a place to sit. The furniture was laid out so that we could all see one another and conversation was also easy. Pretty straight forward, but doing this before anyone arrived saves everyone from any awkward moments later. Lighting was also a big thing here – The overhead light in the living room was never on. We stuck to the table and floor lamps for a softer light that feels cozier.
So these may not be the 5 commandments of being a better hostess, (that’s why I called it “5 ways to be a better hostess”) but I honestly think they can come in handy. They’re small steps to being better at having people come into your home, and making them feel welcome. Oh, and I know I still have a LOT to learn. Which is where you come in…
Can you add anything to this list? I’m eager to know from those of you that live in small spaces. Our main floor is literally just a kitchen and living room. We don’t have a separate family room or dining room or even a very big entrance, for that matter, but I felt like our group, which ranged from 8-14 people on any given week, fit just fine and we somehow made it work.
How do YOU make it work?