How do you feel when company’s coming? Are you excited? Nervous? Frantic? I used to stress every single time company was coming. Once I started focusing on offering hospitality instead of entertaining, my whole attitude shifted.
So what does that change look like when company’s coming? Let me show you by sharing how I got ready for our New Year’s Eve guests without stressing.
First off, we didn’t decide we were having company until the day before New Year’s Eve. That meant we hadn’t been preparing food or the house for days ahead of time. While I like planning ahead, I’m learning that less time to plan equals less time to stress.
Low-Key Food Prep
We decided to keep it really simple and whip up some soup for the Crock Pot. That way, if people came later (which we knew they would), dinner would still be warm when they got there. I thought about all the different soups I could make, but I settled on the easiest one in my arsenal, this 5-can pantry soup. I browned some sweet Italian sausage, threw it all in the Crock Pot, and was done in about 10 minutes.
I grabbed a few bags of chips from our stockpile and bought a couple boxes of crackers to go with the soup. I baked a pumpkin bundt cake and a batch of these gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (super easy). I also bought a pack of bakery cookies to round out dessert.
We had a friend offer to grab some 2-liters on the way over, so we took him up on that. I’ve learned to nip the control freak in me and graciously accept when people offer to help. He was glad to do it, and it was one less thing for me to worry about.
The lesson I learned? Food doesn’t have to be extravagant, and I don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen in order to have people over. It’s more about the time spent together than fancy foods. By baking a couple of our old standby recipes and supplementing with store-bought things, I saved a ton of time (and stress) in the kitchen.
The house is my usual stress point when people are coming over. While I’ve learned to let go and not worry about it being picture perfect, I like to at least have a clean bathroom and an opportunity to get rid of the dog hair hamsters that take up residence under the couch.
I enlisted my family’s help. Emma (age 8) helped declutter by putting away everything she could. I ran a quick dust rag around the living room (Did anyone else have a hard time dusting around Christmas decorations??) and wiped down the bathroom sink, mirror, and toilet. I decided the carpet was fine, so I skipped sweeping – except for the steps and entryway which I asked my husband to handle with the Shop Vac. I ran a Swiffer around the kitchen, pulled the door to our bedroom shut, and called it ‘good enough’ for the evening.
The lesson I learned? The house really doesn’t have to be perfect. If it’s clean enough that we’re comfortable, we can just go with it. People are coming over to spend time together, not evaluate our housekeeping skills.
We didn’t have a huge crowd coming for New Year’s Eve. I had enough bowls, plates, and silverware that we could’ve used the real stuff. Instead, I chose to grab some paper plates, plastic forks, napkins, and Solo cups from our birthday party storage bin in the basement. I decided to go with real spoons and bowls for the soup (so much easier to eat with) but figured disposable was the way to go with everything else. It made clean-up much quicker. And since our birthday party bin holds party-ware from multiple past birthday parties, we had quite a hodgepodge of colors going on. We just called it FESTIVE! 😉
The lesson I learned? Keeping it simple is smart. Eliminating clean-up time and dishes stacked in the sink? Priceless.
Taking Care of Mama
Back when I used to spend too much time stressing about the food, the messy kitchen, and the dog hair hamsters, I ended up frazzled before our guests arrived. Sure, the food looked amazing, and the house sparkled. But I was a mess.
Now that I’m slowing down and allowing things be ‘good enough,’ I have a little time for myself before our guests arrive. For New Year’s Eve, I had a chance to change clothes, freshen up my makeup, and run a brush through my hair. I felt human instead of hurried. I was much better company when people got here, I wasn’t snapping at my family, and we were all more relaxed.
The lesson I learned? My attitude goes a long way in setting the tone (positively or negatively) when people are coming over. If I can chill with the house and food prep and take a few minutes to care for myself, I help set a positive tone for the evening. Everyone benefits.
It’s not about the food or the floors. It’s about the fellowship. It’s about relationships.
Yes, it’s hard to let go. It’s a process, and it takes time. I encourage you to take some baby steps toward letting go the next time you have people over. Or, if you don’t have people over because you stress too much about the food and the house, maybe letting go looks like having a friend over for coffee. Whatever your next baby step is, I encourage you to take it.