One thing I’ve learned of myself as I’ve grown older is that I love entertaining our family and friends at our home. Over the last year I feel like I’ve really found my groove, in the sense that I have a good idea of what will work and what might be too ambitious to take on.
I never really thought about my own style of entertaining as relaxed, until I came across Kate Spade’s book which listed ridiculous suggestions like exchanging all the light-bulbs in your house to a more flattering wattage and writing “hello gorgeous” in red lipstick on the mirror. Can you imagine trying to clean the mirror afterwards?
In contrast, my parties are usually hosted in slippers and they might not be the fanciest, but they feel special to me and hopefully my guests too. I certainly don’t have it down to the T, but I think I’ve narrowed down which things are really worth spending your time on so that you can enjoy the party with your friends. Chances are, that is all your guests care about too!
Parties are messy, there is no getting around it. So there really is no point in doing a full house deep clean, but at the same time no one wants to see your dust bunnies. If you feel that it is incredibly noticeable and you have time, giving your house a quick vacuum will put you at ease. When I’m feeling fancy I might even mop up some spills with a piece of damp toilet paper!
If you’re running short on time and the vacuuming isn’t an option, at least give the mirror and basin a wipe and flush a bit of thick bleach down the toilet. You don’t want your guests to be grossed out in your home.
Some people are naturally tidy, others aren’t and it doesn’t really matter to your friends and family. Just be sure to maybe stash the wet laundry somewhere other than the dining room and create some space on the table for dining. Anything more than that really is optional.
Ensure you have alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages
My husband and I aren’t big drinkers, so we usually make sure to have some non-alcoholic yet special drinks on hands for when friends visit. If our friends ask what they can bring, we usually suggest a wine they’d like to enjoy with the meal. That way guests that like a wine with their food has their favourite on hand and designated drivers and secretly pregnant guests don’t have to make a fuss about requesting a non-alcoholic drink.
When I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll even put a bottle of ice water on the table filled with fresh mint so that everyone can stay adequately hydrated. This is imperative for board game nights!
No one likes a hangry guest
I don’t know why, but it is quite common in South Africa to be invited to a braai at 16h00 only to be served dinner after 20h00. Hungry guests never make good conversation, so try to serve the main meal within two hours of your guests’ arrival or be prepared with plenty of snacks!
This obviously depends on the style of event you’re hosting, as sometimes we serve our friends takeaway pizza out of the box, but I feel like people appreciate it when they can help themselves comfortably. How you interpret this depends on what you are serving and the type of event you’re hosting. So if you’re inviting around people for the first time, help them by setting out the glasses they can use and keep the wine they bought on the table (not hidden in the fridge).
Also when serving salads and other side dishes, be sure to go with a slightly larger bowl and don’t over fill it as it might be uncomfortable to try and help yourself without making a big mess! Been there, done that and got the t-shirt.
Do something fancy (if you want to!)
Sometimes I remember to put some aroma oils on the lamp ring burner and my home smells amazing, other times I forget. As long as the food smells amazing, I don’t think guests even notice! Fresh flowers, beautiful candles and carefully set tables are all appreciated when it feels effortless or passionately done but they aren’t necessary. If the food is good (heck, even if it is just okay!) and the company is great, whatever else you add to it will just be the cherry on top!
How do you entertain? Obviously we go to a little more trouble at birthdays and Christmas, but generally I try to keep a balance between being casual and doing something to make our guests feel special. I hope they like attending our small get-togethers as much as we like hosting them.