Enjoying a meal with friends and family is supposed to help dust away life’s daily anxieties. But in a recent British survey, half of those questioned said throwing a dinner party is more stressful than going to work. A quarter of respondents found it more traumatic than sitting down for a job interview.
A significant share of that anxiety, according to author Sandy Coughlin, is rooted in self-consciousness. When we host, we worry about being judged. Is our furniture OK? Is the bathroom spotless? Will the food turn out?
Coughlin’s mission is to help people see event hosting as an opportunity to reconnect. “The real point of entertaining isn’t to display the perfection of your domestic arrangements or your party-hosting skill,” she says. “The main thing is making people feel warm and welcome in your home.”
Barriers to Overcome
Next: 5 Strategies for Success
Strategies For Success
- Keep it small and simple. People have different levels of comfort with entertaining, says Coughlin, and if throwing a huge holiday bash isn’t easy for you, invite a few friends over for tacos instead. You can work up to larger groups and more complex spreads as your comfort grows. Or not.
- Clean selectively. Coughlin advocates for moderation. “You do not have to clean the whole house when guests come over,” she says. “Pick things up, wipe off the counters, clean one bathroom, have one entertaining space that you’ve made comfortable. Then shut the doors to the other rooms.”
- Be a connector. Coughlin suggests building your guest list around the idea of who would enjoy meeting whom. Bringing people together who will enliven and inspire one another is the best way to help keep things lively, and almost guarantees your guests will have a good time.
- Scale back the self-critique. “People are coming to your home to see you,” not to scrutinize the silverware or judge the wallpaper, says Coughlin. “They’re probably very grateful to be invited over.” When Coughlin attends a gathering, she’s so thrilled to be reconnecting with friends, “the last thing I’m going to do is criticize my hosts’ housekeeping.”
- Know that guests empathize. Almost everyone has been in your shoes, so your guests will sincerely appreciate your efforts. If dinner doesn’t turn out or the dog keeps misbehaving, good friends will understand, not find you lacking.
By: John Spayde, from ExperienceLife.com
John Spayde / Experience Life