One of my favorite things about our home is how great it is for entertaining. My husband and I both come from large families, and it’s not uncommon for us to host a party in our home with over 50 people in attendance. When we were house hunting for our forever home we knew we wanted room to host lots of people, plenty of space for parking, and an area of the house that we could turn into a playroom so all the kids could play while the adults talked. I remember standing on the sidewalk in front of one of the first houses we looked at when we were searching for our current home. It was a gorgeous old turn of the century home, with tons of charm and character. And there was space in the driveway for one car to park, and very limited parking on the street. My husband and I were trying to count how many cars we usually had at our house during a get-together with family and friends, and we realized we needed our own mini parking lot! When we saw our castle, we immediately envisioned how the space could accommodate all our friends and family. Over the years we’ve had lots of parties, and we’ve learned how to welcome large groups of people into our home with ease.
Welcoming people into our home is so important to us. We want our home to be a place where people can come together to celebrate and enjoy spending time together. Our little castle has been the setting for many wonderful parties since it was built in 1927, and we are so happy to continue the tradition of hospitality. Having a house full of laughter and loved ones is one of my favorite things!
My husband and I had a party for our friends at our house tonight, and it was absolutely wonderful! Several people who came had never been to our house before, and we had so much fun. As we were getting ready for the party, I realized that my husband and I have developed a routine for hosting people in our home that makes planning a party easy. We know where to set up the food tables, how many chairs we need, and how the space will flow to accommodate such a large group. It’s such second nature to us now, we could set up a party in our sleep! It wasn’t as easy the first several times we invited people over, but we learned what worked and what didn’t, and now it’s so fun!
Friends, hosting large groups of people is something that we’ve learned how to do over the years. We still laugh about our oldest son’s first birthday party, which was the first large party we had at our house down in South Carolina. We had invited about 30 of our friends and family, and I was feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out what we needed. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t do something right! My husband was very excited to plan the menu, and since I had never planned a party for such a large group before, I figured he knew what he was doing. Although it seemed like a tremendous amount of food for 30 people, he assured me it was the right amount. Off I went to the grocery store with my giant list, pushing two grocery carts and trying to figure out how I was going to have enough time to cook everything the morning of the party. About halfway through my list both carts were full, and I was feeling so nervous and overwhelmed that I seriously contemplated sitting down in the middle of the grocery aisle and crying. Right at that moment, as fate would have it, friends of ours came around the corner, shopping for their weekly groceries. When they saw me standing in the middle of the aisle on the verge of tears, they grabbed another cart and helped me finish shopping. Then they loaded some of my party food into their car and followed me home, because we couldn’t fit three full carts of groceries into my car! We had so much extra food at the end of the party we ate leftovers for a month! Lesson learned, I always plan the party food now, as my husband seems to be under the impression that we are feeding hundreds of people!
People often feel pressure when entertaining to make sure everything is perfect. But perfection is overrated, and relationships are far more important. So with that in mind, I wanted to share a few tips I’ve learned for hosting people in your home, whether it’s a group of 5 or 50!
1. Keep it simple
I’ve learned over time how to simplify the process of planning a party so that it is fun and stress free! I keep the menu simple, setting up food on a large table in our sunroom. I love shopping at Costco to get ready for a party. By buying in bulk, I don’t have to wonder if I’ve picked up enough of everything. We use disposable plates, cups, and silverware, and I always set out twice as much as I expect people to use so that I don’t have to constantly check to see if we are running low. I also buy extra food, drinks, and snacks and set them to the side of the food table so that if we do run low on chips or popcorn I can grab another bag and refill the bowl quickly. I always plan for more people than we expect to come so that if someone who originally thought they couldn’t make it has a change of plans, they know they are welcome to come visit! The more the merrier! Our focus is on people, not perfection.
2. Don’t stress about food
Some people really enjoy the act of preparing food and setting a gorgeous table. If that brings you joy, go for it! But don’t feel like you have to serve a gourmet meal on your fancy china every time you invite people over. I personally choose to buy food that is either already prepared or can be put together quickly. I’m not a chef, and I love our friends and family too much to subject them to my cooking, so I always serve food that I don’t have to personally make. My favorite party food to serve is shredded chicken and buns for sandwiches, which is incredibly easy to prepare using a crock pot. I buy packages of already cooked shredded chicken at Costco, heat it up in the microwave according to the instructions, and then place it in the crock pot on the warm setting during party. I even plan ahead for an easy clean up and use a disposable plastic crock pot liner so that I don’t have to scrub stuck on food pieces at the end of the night. It’s amazingly easy! The rest of the food is simple as well. I grab a vegetable tray, chips, popcorn, water, and juice boxes for the kiddos. Super easy! When we have a big group of people over like we did tonight, our friends each bring a side dish or dessert to share, as well as their favorite drinks, and we have so much fun!
3. Don’t worry about being perfect
People do not come to your home to critique it. They come to visit and have a great time! Don’t wait until everything is perfect to invite them over. Sharing life with friends and family is far more important than having a perfect house. Now, admittedly, I like inviting people over because it actually motivates me to clean my house. But I also have no problem if there are baskets of laundry that need to be folded and piles of papers on my kitchen counter. I’ve found that it is helpful to have a baby gate around when I’m getting ready for a large party. I just put all the clean laundry baskets in our bedroom, gather up the stack of papers and stash them in the office, and then use a baby gate to block off the hallway to those rooms. Done! Don’t ever feel like you have to apologize for the fact that people actually live in your home and make messes!
4. Plan ahead for the kids
Planning activities for various age groups of kids helps everyone enjoy the party. We move our TV upstairs and set up age appropriate video games in our son’s room, dress up costumes in our daughter’s room, and toys in our playroom. I’ve learned over the years to pick up all the toys with small pieces and hide them in the basement before a party, otherwise the entire playroom floor will be covered with toys by the end of the night. Removing the smaller toys with tons of pieces before the party makes cleaning up at the end so much easier! And when the kids are happily entertained, it makes the party fun for everyone! Also, put away anything priceless that you don’t want to risk accidentally getting broken. Our house is pretty much kid proof, but if something does break or a drink spills I simply remember a quote my mom used to say. If we accidentally broke something growing up, she would hug us and say, “You are more important to me than things.” I want people to know when they come into our home that they are far more important to me than our things!
5. Enjoy spending time with your guests
Spending time with your guests is the most important part of a party. I remember going to a Christmas party once years ago when my husband and I were first married, and the woman hosting it was completely stressed out. She spent the entire party rushing around trying to make sure that everything was perfect, and she was clearly not enjoying herself. We offered to help her, but she just waved us away, telling us to have a good time. No one actually enjoyed the party, because we all felt bad that we were causing her so much stress. I vowed after that experience to really enjoy spending time with people when I invite them into my home. By planning ahead and keeping the preparations simple, I’m able to focus on my guests and visit with them. And because my husband and I are so happy to spend time with our friends and family, everyone is truly able to enjoy themselves!
Hospitality is so important in life. Welcoming friends and family into our home is one of our favorite things! And providing an environment that is comfortable and enjoyable is much more important than feeling pressure to have a perfect home. Enjoy spending time with the people you care about!
Have a beautiful day!