Nealy’s Tips for Flexible, Stress-free Entertaining
If you caught the second episode of my digital TV series, The Flexible Life, then you may have seen yourself in Pam. A former hosting enthusiast, Pam has developed a lot of anxiety and hesitation over the last few years about welcoming people into her home and embodying the hostess role that once came so naturally to her. Let me explain My stress-free entertaining: learn to host with ease and confidence method can help!
For Pam, the shift came with her husband’s passing in 2017. Without his comforting presence by her side – and his ability to dazzle guests with his brilliant storytelling – hosting felt nothing short of impossible for her, and she felt incapable of captivating guests the way her husband once did.
What Your Guests Really Expect From You
What I shared with Pam – and want to emphasize to you, too – is a simple yet totally groundbreaking truth: your guests don’t expect you to be the life of the party, and they don’t expect perfection, either. They aren’t looking for a complicated four-course meal, it doesn’t matter to them if your baseboards are clean (*insert major sigh of relief*), and they’re not thinking about the price of the wine that you’re serving.
When it comes down to it, your guests are just happy to be invited, to be with you, and to enjoy the experience of laughing, eating, and drinking with friends. Your primary goal as a host, then, shouldn’t be to wow your guests with total perfection, but to simply prioritize their comfort.
Sounds so much more doable – and fun – right?
Here are my tips for flexible, stress-free entertaining that will help you…
- Plan with your guests’ comfort in mind
- Simplify your party prep
- And allow your gathering to unfold naturally.
Plan With Your Guests’ Comfort in Mind
Disclaimer: putting your guests first doesn’t mean that you should put yourself last! To talk Pam down from her hosting anxiety, I gently encouraged her to consider how her guests want to feel when they come to her home.
With this, Pam had her own epiphany: her guests just want to feel comfortable! That’s it! Bingo. So as you start planning for your next neighborhood potluck or co-worker cocktail party or wine night with your girlfriends, simply let their comfort guide your thinking. Make sure they have something to sip right away, that they know where they can set down their things or where the restroom is, and that there are a few different snack options for them to nibble on.
Simplify Your Party Prep
One of the pillars of living flexibly is embracing the beauty of simplicity, and this is definitely the case for stress-free entertaining. To build confidence as a host – and to sidestep a whole lot of stress – nix that complicated dinner recipe with obscure ingredients and opt for a few foolproof snacks (think: veggies and dip, and crackers with a few types of cheeses and meats). For drinks, have a simple assortment of water, beer, and wine on hand, or choose a cocktail recipe that you can make hours ahead of time and pop in the fridge until people arrive. If you’re serving a sit-down dinner, go for a doable menu that doesn’t stress you out! Serve dinner family style or as a casual buffet so that you don’t have to spend a ton of time plating in the kitchen away from your guests.
As for your home (or yard, if you’ve got the space for outdoor hosting like Pam does!), try not to fret about making it look like it came from a fabulous glossy magazine spread or your “home inspiration” Pinterest board. Remember: right now, we’re striving for comfort, not perfection!
Tidy up, wipe down the counters, and ensure there are plenty of places to sit. Light a candle, turn on music that puts a spring in your step, and slip into an outfit that makes you feel good.
It’s go time! If you are hosting a holiday, find the best practices here where I help you plan ahead!
Allow Your Gathering to Unfold Naturally
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you have to be the life of the party, carry the conversation, and tend to everyyyyyy tiny detail. (Believe me, the pre-Flexible Life Nealy has totally been there 🙋🏼♀️ – exhausting, isn’t it?) But this is probably not your guests’ first rodeo: they know how to mingle, eat, drink, and enjoy themselves, and they don’t need you to hold their hand in doing so!
Instead, your job as a host is to hold space for friends to come together and find community. So as friends arrive and drinks are poured, challenge yourself to sit back a little and let everyone’s collective energy create a fabulous party and amazing conversation.
Wishing you a fabulous, fulfilling gathering – you’ve got this!