The time has come to for us stake claim on new version of hosting, and to explore what really makes a ‘perfect’ host. This is one of many conversations we’ll be having here.
Often, I ask myself, “What does hosting really look like? How does it function in our evolved culture? What purpose does it have in society, and in our relationships? Does hosting mean the same thing today than it used to?
A Taste for Living is redefining hosting entirely.
With the constant presence of modern media, we’ve become accustomed to seeing unrealistic images of ‘hosting perfectionism’. We’re constantly surrounded by it, absorbing it. Feelings of inadequacy get stirred up. The need the measure up overwhelms us. The temptation to compare ourselves becomes harder and harder to fight. It’s suffocating.
We want something different.
It’s no longer about the burden perfectionism or feeling the need to ‘impress’ others. It’s not about maintaining etiquette or following a certain set of rules. (Who even came up with such rules?) Heck . . . It’s not even about you. Not anymore. All the hoopla, drama, ego, stress, and showmanship can be checked at the door.
What people want (and need) is warmth, acceptance, delight, and generosity. And if this is what you give to your guests as they enter your home, guess what? I guarantee that they will reflect it back to you, tenfold.
Let’s look at it from a different perspective.
If you’re frantic, it’s going to show.
If you’re stressed, they’re going to feel it.
If you’re not comfortable, no one is.
When you welcome your guests with a warm spirit, they feel at ease. Instead of showering them with apologies for how you look or the mess in the kitchen, why not tell them how happy you are to see them? They’re there, not because they have to be. They’re there, because they WANT to be. And that’s pretty awesome, because we all know folks can easily make up an excuse to avoid a painfully awkward social situation—I’m one of them.
Invite them into your space and
insist they make themselves at home.
Your guests feel accepted into your space when you let them toss their jacket on the bed. They feel wanted when they offer to lend a hand with preparations, and you say, “Yes, thank you, that would be wonderful! I have the perfect job for you.” And you give them a knife and cutting board to chop up some fresh parsley. Or you hand them a spoon to stir the onions till they reach the perfect shade of caramel brown.
Invite them into your kitchen
and welcome their help.
There’s something magical about cooking food together with loved ones. I find that when our hands our busy, and our minds are relaxed, we let guards down faster. Conversations flow more naturally, interspersed with slicing instructions, or a sprinkle of salt.
Share in the delight of their presence. Be curious and listen with both your ears AND your eyes. Express your excitement and gratitude for their friendship. And tell them why. The more specific, the better.
Invite them into your heart,
and they will always feel at home.
Hold back any judgements that arise. Literally, clamp your mouth and hold your tongue. This goes for judgements toward your guests, your home—and most importantly—toward YOURSELF.
Easier said than done, I know. Such critical opinions naturally come up in the mind. It’s human. It happens to all of you. But the good news is that you can choose whether or not to believe them. And you can choose whether or not to express them. Choose wisely.
Invite your guests to show up
just as they are — their true selves.
This all sounds like a huge responsibility for the new everyday host, but the hope is to liberate you from the pressures and burdens of perfectionism. It will take a few tries, but over time you will gradually move away from the old school way of hosting, and open yourself up to a new world of entertaining (and connection).
What’s interesting is that your guests will give back to you the same level of generosity you provide them. If they feel your warmth, accepting attitude, pure delight (not fake), and open mind . . . they will radiate it back.
So if the meal isn’t ready on time, no big deal! Your guests will be delighted to set up and prep the table.
If you haven’t had a spare moment to get dolled up and your apron is your only accessory, cool! It’s kind of cute, anyway. I dare you to wear it the entire time and see if anyone notices.
If there’s a mountain of dishes in the sink . . . you know what I’m going to say.
Who cares? Does it really matter, at the end of the day?
May I remind you of one simple truth:
Your guests are invited into a home
that’s lived in . . . not a museum.
So let’s take a deep breath, exhale, and raise a glass to one another as we collectively embody the new everyday host. The authentic host. The host with heart
ps. This is the first of many conversations I will be having about my philosophy on hosting, and redefining what it means in today’s world. My hope is to empower you to break the “rules” and to open your perfectly imperfect home to others. I want to get to the root of entertaining, and explore what it really means and how it serves our humanity. We are social creatures, and we’re designed to play . . . together.