Do you feel overwhelmed when you are hosting guests in your home? Do you turn into a drill sergeant barking clean-up orders left and right to your kids and husband? Or do you try to do it all yourself and then feel like crashing just when the doorbell rings?
When my brothers and I were growing up, my dad–the pastor and people person, would often spring surprise company on Mother. This was usually signaled by Mother delegating “jobs” to each of us. By the tone of her voice we knew we’d better hop to it and fast! Invariably one of us would take our life in our hands and ask, “Who’s coming over?”
While she enjoyed having company, she did not enjoy the impromptu preparations thrust upon her. This meant my brothers and I were enlisted in a kind of Flight of the Bumblebee cleaning hurricane. Vacuuming, dusting, cometing, windexing and pinesoling everything but the dog! Speaking of the dog, Pete our pekepoo was notorious for “airing our dirty laundry”. I must have lost Rock, Paper, Scissors to get the dreaded task of underwear retrieval and return to the washroom laundry basket.
Mother always made it work – though it sometimes exhausted her by the end. Her delicious spread of southern cooking alone covered any stray dust bunnies under the couch.
Without some notice and planning, hosting can be overwhelming. I seem to remember Mother delegating the post meal clean-up to me while she retired to her room. Who could blame her?
Now that I’m the hostess of my home, there are few impromptu invitations. In fact I joke that I have to plan for spontaneity! However there is still the cleaning and cooking to do no matter how long the date has been on the calendar. But I’ve discovered one thing that helps me relax and not go into that frantic “flight of the bumblebee” mode.
The ONE thing is a cut off time.
No matter how much cleaning needs to be done and what dishes I’m preparing, I determine a cut off time. Usually 30 – 45 minutes before my guests are expected, I retire to my room and leisurely freshen up and change clothes. I wear something comfortable that I feel good in. Then I take a few minutes to truly retire. I lie down and calm down.
Whatever is done is done and it’s good enough. Really.
Where ever I am in the food preparation is okay. One of my strong points is organizing what needs to be done first and what can be done in steps. Knowing this ahead of time helps me to stick to my cut-off. Once your guests arrive they usually feel more comfortable if you give them a job to do. Filling glasses with ice and beverages or helping to set the table or arrange a buffet on the bar is quite helpful.
Although I aim for a clean home and tasty dishes my #1 goal is not a spotless and clutter free home nor is it too impress with my cooking skills. My primary motive is to relax and enjoy my friends. Keeping to my cut-off rule helps me stay true to this desire.
Grace is more than a blessing over the meal. Grace is putting aside your need for perfection and gracefully enjoying the presence of your guests.
Take a minute and listen to this! Can you see why I compared it to a hurricane of cleaning?!
What is your #1 tip to truly enjoy those times when “company’s coming”?
Grace is more than a blessing over the meal. Grace is putting aside your need for perfection to truly enjoy your guests. (click to tweet)