Sunday, July 10, 2011

Joyful Hospitality

I always dreamed that when I got married I would host dinners and cocktail parties and backyard barbecues.  But in truth?  I kind of suck at the actual doing it part.  And the reasons are completely silly.  I was reminded of this as I read Parisienne Farmgirl's post on this topic, and somewhat ashamed.

I tell myself, "Oh, my home is such a mess."  or  "I wouldn't know what to cook."  And the reality is that yes, my home can get cluttered, and yes, sometimes it's hard to find meals that people would enjoy.  And even worse, yes, I've had guests think my fare was too "fancy" or say I went to too much trouble.  And my biggest cause of nerves comes from the fact that in our home we don't do seconds (unless it's something like a bowl of soup in the winter, and even then we usually don't), we serve small portions, and yes, I have had people give me odd looks over this.

But... I'm a homemaker.  Part of my job is to make my home welcoming, a respite for my family and friends.  I want to be that woman who can invite a friend over for a Sunday lunch or a quick cup of coffee with dessert.  I want to stop being ashamed if I missed a tuft of dog hair in my sweeping.  I want to stop being no perfectionistic to the point that I'm not welcoming.

So this week is being spent doing 2 things: pampering myself and cleaning my home enough that I can hopefully have a friend over for coffee this week or dinner this weekend.  Pampering myself, because I've been go go go lately, and I look "tired" as people kindly say.  The cleaning should be quick if I can remember why I want to do it and take breaks with some iced tea.

I figure that practicing hospitality with friends and acquaintances will be perfect so that I can properly welcome my husband home.  After all, he's definitely the one I try hard to please the most!


  1. Hello Kate! How I missed you!!! This post speaks so dearly to my heart. Also, I really felt more motivated as to speak. The last time I did open my home was to an older couple. As I was stir frying the veggies I asked her if she liked cooking. She told she always buy her food as she doesn't want to go through the trouble. It made me felt like I was going through trouble to make the food!!! Anyways, we moved to a new place where I have friends who loves to eat and cook. So definetely will doing that often:) Love this post!!

  2. Good friends will always want to see you and enjoy your hospitality - with or without dog hair. I think people today are uncomfortable with care and passion that goes into preparing food for a guest - it reminds them that they aren't willing to do it for themselves.

    I try to act as nonchalantly as possible when I serve dinner guests my creations. When faced with a, "Oh, why did you go to so much trouble!", I counter with, "It is no trouble! It's my joy to do these things!"

    As long as it really is a joy, your comfortable hospitality will be an attribute people will gravitate to - especially the husband!

  3. I think Rebekah is spot on when she says people are uncomfortable with you taking effort to do something they wouldn't do for themselves.

    I also think people notice the dog hair, but it makes them more comfortable. My house is nicely decorated and usually pretty clean. I stopped super cleaning it for parties because our friends were more comfortable in the house with a puff of dog hair here or there than they are when I super clean.

    So even if your friends DO notice the dog hair, it's not going to make them pass judgment on you. You'll probably just look less like super wife :)

  4. There's one thing very puzzling to me in this entry - the fact that you say you want your house to be welcoming and a respite to your family and friends, but that

    ' biggest cause of nerves comes from the fact that in our home we don't do seconds (unless it's something like a bowl of soup in the winter, and even then we usually don't), we serve small portions, and yes, I have had people give me odd looks over this.'

    I'm not surprised people give you odd looks if you invite them to dinner, give them small amounts of food, and then announce it's house policy that you don't offer second helpings! Surely your admirable frugality can't require you to skimp this much on food for friends? Wouldn't it be better to entertain less often and feed your guests properly?

    Or am I misreading this? I'm a Paris-living Irishwoman who lived in the US for a while, and I was shocked at the portion sizes. Are you just saying you serve less enormous amounts of food?

  5. Nathalie, You would probably think I serve plenty of food, because yes, what I was meaning was that I don't serve such enormous portions as to leave my guests stuffed.

    I don't generally serve seconds because I serve several courses, and have the wine flowing to boot. For simple things like soup, my husband and I don't tend to do second courses because my soups are filling and served with salad and homemade bread or a fresh baguette.

    I don't announce that it's house policy that we don't do seconds, I simply cook enough for the meal. It's not a money thing in the least, it comes down to the fact that I feel most Americans overeat without thinking, so I prefer to plate and bring to the table or serve a variety at the table (but only enough for everyone to have a small fill, not gorge themselves).