A few years ago, I started a book club at my house. We had no doors on our pantry or kitchen cabinets. We had just moved into our house and had several projects going on simultaneously. This made me feel extremely vulnerable and self-conscious. Let me be clear: I do not have my pantry beautifully organized, but I do prefer my house to not be under construction when having guests over. Looking back though, I realize that starting that book club was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I was new in town and deeply desired to make friends for both myself and my children.
Do you have a memory of going to someone’s house and feeling loved and immediately welcome?
If hosting is not your thing, that’s ok! We all have different strengths and interests — thank goodness for that. But this is for those who deep down would love to start a regular gathering, host an event in their homes, or simply invite a few friends over, but hesitate to do so. This could be due to a number of reasons: an outdated kitchen or bathroom, anxiety of being vulnerable, fear of judgement, stress over preparing the perfect dessert or snacks, etc. I think a lot more people want to host in their homes than actually do!
A home is a safe place. People tend to feel more relaxed and comfortable in a house than in a restaurant or another public space. Opening up your home doesn’t require an elaborate meal and Pinterest worthy table settings.
Here are some practical ideas and ways you can take the pressure off and enjoy opening your home to others:
1. Just do the basics of cleaning.
I try to pick two big things to clean. I always do my main guest bathroom and try to run the vacuum in the main part of the house. That’s it. If I try to do much more, I start to become overwhelmed. And having guests over will more than likely dirty your house again.
2. If people offer to help, always say yes!
Save a few items to give to someone else to bring. This helps with your budget and your time. Or better yet, delegate! If you are offering coffee and dessert, send a text saying others are welcome to bring water or an appetizer if they’d like to pitch in.
3. Simplify everywhere you can.
Choose a time where you don’t necessarily have to prepare a meal unless you just want to. Use paper plates, a simple pot of coffee, etc. My mom talks about one of her fondest memories of going to a monthly youth group gathering where the only thing they ever served was sweet tea and a big bowl of popcorn and pretzels. It was more about the people she was with and the fun they were having than what was served.
Some ways we have hosted at our home in the past are a backyard bonfire, book club, game nights, appetizers on the porch, brunch, or inviting friends to come over and just play in the backyard with our kids. The ideas are endless. Start small and see how rewarding it can be!
People feel more connected once they see you in the element of your own home and in return they feel more comfortable to be themselves around you. Isn’t feeling welcomed and loved something we all crave? My hope is to create an environment where a person’s identity goes from guest to belonging. We find connection with old and new friends when we make ourselves available and open our doors. Let this be an opportunity to get creative on how to make people feel seen, known, heard, and loved.