- We haven't really entertained a large group of people at our house since just after we moved in almost 8 years ago. And by large, I mean more than 3 people (plus us).
- I thought the house was too small, too cluttered, too ugly, etc.
- Last year, I learned about the wonderful Sandy Coughlin and her blog and book, The Reluctant Entertainer.
- Because of Sandy, I decided that giving back to our friends was more important than having a perfect house.
- Plus, we will never have a perfect house.
It was a lot of work - totally worth it, but a lot of work just the same. I was way too ambitious with food and made the mistake of leaving it open if people wanted to bring something. Result? We had so much food, it was ridiculous. Two weeks later, we are still working on the desserts!
We cleared off every surface in the kitchen to make room for the food and beverages. We cleared out the living room, leaving only places to sit and to rest plates, plus our bookshelves and entertainment center and the Christmas tree. All the Legos were banished to R's room. (We also put a little coffee table in his room for Lego-building, which has worked out great!) I bought two storage ottomans from IKEA, which provided extra seating and were the favored spot because they were right next to the radiator (so your buns get nice and toasty). We cleared out half of A's office, made the futon a couch again, and let the tweens hang out in there, playing video games.
My living room has never looked so good! I forgot to take pictures during the brunch, but here's the before brunch picture:
I can't tell you how happy this picture makes me. I keep looking at it over and over again. Of course I see the flaws (like the picture above the sofa hanging too high), but I think it looks homey and welcoming and comfortable - just like I wanted. One of my friends walked in, her eyes bugged out, and she whispered to me, "What did you do?!?!" It's that much of a transformation. The fire in the fireplace and my rustic candelabra on the mantle all lit up helped with the coziness, too.
We had a lot of fun with everyone, and we're planning to host more friends more often - just with less food. We're thinking a soup night - cook up one or two big pots of soup, invite the gang over, and people can bring bread and wine if they want. Something a lot more simple.
The biggest transformation for me, though, was in my head. Not only did I learn that I don't need to have a perfect home to host a gathering, but I also learned (thanks to Sandy) that the important thing about entertaining is making your guests welcome and comfortable. I really tried not to think so much about the house once it was ready (which was essentially focusing on myself - and I worked hard NOT to worry about the house too much ahead of time), but to focus on our friends and spending time with them instead of frittering about every little thing and busying myself in the kitchen. And, guess what? I think my being able to enjoy the event more made it more comfortable for everyone. When people arrived, the food was ready, and we could all just eat and relax. Who could ask for more on the day after Christmas? :-)
(And, yes, this was the SHORT version of this story!)