Today’s post is a guest post from Lisa Hurley. Lisa is self described as a psychologist by education, writer by nature, and stay-at-home mom by choice. She lives in central Illinois with her husband, Matt, and their two girls, ages 5 and 3. Lisa serves as a volunteer writer for the Hearts at Home Heartbeat Radio program and I’ve loved getting to know her!
If the word “hospitality” causes you to break out in hives, you’ll appreciate Lisa’s post today! It fits right in with the No More Perfect Moms concept of embracing realistic expectations of ourselves!
Days before Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law sent me the sweetest email. I had messaged her first asking her to bring a side dish, and in her response she mentioned that her family was really looking forward to spending the holiday with us. Then she complimented my sense of hospitality and I was flattered… but also totally confused.
She must be thinking of someone else.
Me? Hospitality? Really?
I had always equated a good sense of hospitality with the “Hostess with the Mostest” type. We all know them well. Everything is beautiful and perfectly coordinated – from the place settings to the serving spoons to the charger plates. Even the scent of the candles matches the occasion. (And if you don’t know what a charger plate is, keep reading. This is for you).
These women make great hostesses because their commitment to their guests’ experience is apparent in their effort. They have handmade centerpieces and homemade pies; and they bustle around non-stop, making sure the drinks stay full and the food keeps coming. Their creative extras add a lot to the party atmosphere, and the fancy touches are endearing. Their parties are so festive and so fun.
And that’s so not me.
If you’re one of those women with over-the-top festive flare, that’s awesome. We admire your effort, we envy your creativity, and we have a great time at your parties.
But hosting events can be intimidating when you don’t have a Pinterest-worthy flare – like the friend who hosted a fall gathering and served the soup in miniature hollow pumpkins. Or the cousin who hosted last year’s family Christmas party and handed out homemade Mason jar snow globes as party favors. When you have Martha-Stewart-type friends and family members, it’s easy to feel like everything you do pales in comparison.
Hospitality was a quality I admired in other women, but it’s definitely never been on my list of my own personal strengths. I don’t own a set of napkin rings or charger plates. (For those still wondering, they’re decorative plates that you put underneath your real plates. I know. I don’t understand it either. But they sure are pretty). My china is boxed up in the basement and my gravy boat has never been used. I don’t have much of an eye for decorating, and I don’t use seasonal centerpieces. I prefer to keep things simple.
So what’s to compliment about that?
Well, it turns out that while people do enjoy the all-out festive fun, they also appreciate the simple, calm, and casual. There’s no need to worry about breaking one of my dishes or spilling red wine on my tablecloth. (The dishes were cheap and there is no tablecloth). No need to offer to help me in the kitchen. Let’s have fun. I’ll get the mess later.
I come from a “come as you are” kind of family, and I’m proud of that. My husband and I host gatherings all the time, despite my mismatched dinnerware and lack of napkin rings. We don’t buzz around for hours beforehand making sure everything is spotless and perfect. We create a “make yourself at home” setting that is nice enough to be welcoming and relaxed enough to comforting. And we’ve discovered that people have just as much fun without plate chargers.
So if you’re next in line to host the big family Christmas, don’t feel like you have to spend hours on Pinterest finding the perfect recipes and creating the perfect table setting. People will appreciate you for whichever kind of hostess you are. A good sense of hospitality goes deeper than what people see when they walk in the door. It’s really about how they feel when they walk out.
Have a merry (and stress-free) Christmas!
How about you? What’s your style of hospitality? How have you released yourself from unrealistic expectations during the holiday season?