Can we just say it? Holiday hosting is intimidating, especially for those of us who are new to the hostess spotlight. However, I am here to assure you that the spotlight’s once harsh glare can easily be transformed into a warm glow that soothes and invites even the coldest of hearts this holiday season.
All you need is a little planning, a couple of easy hosting hacks, a few deep breaths and some help from your friends. Below are four key things to remember to keep the merry in your gatherings.
1. Shame is Not Invited
What keeps most of us from opening our homes is the little amount of home (as in square footage) that we typically have to open. Many of us feel ashamed to cram people into our tiny living spaces, especially during a season that is trimmed with extravagance.
But the truth is, extravagance isn’t what opens the door or makes you feel welcome or allows you refuge and rest; it’s the heart and the intention of the one living there. Remember, your space isn’t what people are coming to see and spend time with; it’s you. Therefore, all YOU need to do is simply open the door.
Remember, your space isn’t what people are coming to see and spend time with; it’s you.
2. Places, Places Everybody
When hosting a holiday shindig, it isn’t necessary to decorate your space from top to bottom, nook to cranny, crack to crevasse. In fact, it’s been my experience that less is almost always more. A few pillows, a few strategically placed candles, a little red, green and gold, and that should do the trick quite nicely.
In addition, think through food and beverage placement. Most people tend to congregate where the food is, thus bottle necking right at the base of your kitchen. Instead, place small tables of snacks and appetizers in a few strategic areas allowing your guests to mingle more effortlessly. If you are like me and hosting in a small apartment, then move the food and beverages to a central location in the common area.
3. Helping Hands
OK, truth moment: Small talk intimidates me. From the time the first guest arrives to the time the second guest arrives, I’m often breaking into a cold sweat trying to think of topics to engage in, while simultaneously putting the finishing touches on appetizers and opening bottles of wine.
However, I have learned instead to engage those early arrivers. I almost always now leave one or two things still left to do when guests begin to arrive. This affords me an easy opportunity to dodge stifled small talk and instead join in on a group effort with my guests.
Little secret: By doing so, this also allows your guests to take a small bit of ownership of the party as well. Thus, they will take a note from you and engage others more easily.
4. ‘Aint Nothin’ but a Group Thang
If solo-hosting a soiree is still too far outside your comfort zone, then enlist your friends.
Does one of your friends love music and somehow always seem to have the new Adele single before it’s even released? Great! Have her be in charge of music. How about your friend who loves to bake? Have her be in charge of desserts. Can someone bring wine? Suddenly, something that was once on your shoulders is now being shouldered by many!
However, my one little tip when throwing a group party is to make sure that all of you are there before the first guest arrives. Nobody wants to be waiting on the wine, ‘ya heard?
At the end of the day, remember hosting isn’t about perfection or performance—it’s about heart and intention. As a writer once put it:
What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed, they’re longing to feel like they’re home. —Shauna Niequist; Bread & Wine
Are you intimidated to host during the holidays? How can you try to change that this year?
Images via Hart & Honey