Hospitality can be intimidating.
I mean, sometimes the standard just feels so unattainable, right?
Because we all have that one friend who is basically Joanna Gaines, makes Pinterest-worthy charcuterie for the appetizer, has seasonal throw pillows, and went to culinary school, while I’m over here burning the main course with a sauce stain on my shirt when the guests arrive.
Trust me, I get it.
It’s so easy to count yourself out of hospitality, and you’re probably already thinking of a million reasons you can’t or shouldn’t.
J, hospitality just isn’t “my thing”.
Um, have you seen my apartment? It’s a shoebox.
My house would require a full-on HGTV demo day before it’d be presentable enough to invite people over.
I can’t really afford to host a five-course dinner party at the moment, but when I strike gold I’ll reconsider.
Sure, the guests may have a good time, but meanwhile, I’m miserable and stressed whenever I host, so why bother?
My Christmas tree is still up. Not exactly spring decor…
Well, friend, buckle up, because on today’s episode of SHE I got to talk to Kayty from Gather Intentional Living. Kayty’s on a mission to equip and inspire the everyday host and debunk hospitality so that it’s no longer an unattainable, stress-inducing, high-pressure performance.
So set aside what you think you know about hospitality, and let’s dive in and learn together!
Untouchable vs. Intentional Hospitality
I don’t know about you, but when I first think of being a good hostess, my mind instantly goes to Instagram-worthy table settings, extravagant menus, and trendy home decor. (Can anyone relate?🙋♀️ )
But rather than defining hospitality through an “untouchable” lens, where the goal is to make everything look good, what if our goal was “intentional hospitality” where the focus is on how our guests feel?
After all, as Kayty said, “hospitality is a vehicle for community and connection.”
Boom. Read that again – that’s good stuff right there.
So instead of trying to make everything perfect, focus on trying to make everyone feel as though they belong.
Because the reality is, your invitation could change someone’s life, and that will always be worth the discomfort you may experience while hosting.
How to Prepare Your House and Heart
And while “come as you are” hospitality may be relatable (unwashed dishes piled in the sink, laundry on the table, and the news on in the background), it’s not necessarily the most inviting.
The good news? There are practical ways you can proactively create a sense of belonging in your home before your guests even arrive.
For example, lighting, space, and music are all elements of hospitality that are often overlooked or misused but contribute to creating the ambiance that’s going to either draw your guests towards, or away from, engagement and community.
Lighting is the gasoline for your event, so alter the lighting to reflect the energy level you are hoping to create within your guests. Bright lights will yield high energy, while dim lighting will give a more melancholy feel, so utilize things like curtains and candles to help create the kind of feel you are wanting.
When it comes to space, it’s easy to get overwhelmed as the host when everything and everyone is in the kitchen. So rather than getting claustrophobic and on the verge of losing it by dessert, spread things out and position food in the areas you are wanting guests to gather by creating stations for them to interact and serve themselves, without you needing to be everywhere at once.
Music sets the mood of an event by either feeding the energy in the room with a faster tempo or lowering the energy through a slower tempo.
Personally, I find background music to be really helpful in cutting through awkward silences and allowing for more natural pauses in conversation, especially when you’re hosting people you may not know as well or haven’t seen in a long time.
Another quick tip when hosting? Always say “yes” to help. Allow your guests to help you do the dishes or set the table or help you prep for dessert when they offer.
So many times, the host is the loneliest person at a gathering because they are drowning in the details or trapped in the kitchen.
When you say “yes” to help, you’re allowing yourself to take a seat at the table and have more time spent engaging with your guests.
Another way you can set yourself up for success is to do your hair and makeup before you go into cooking, spot cleaning, and final preparations mode.
This is a game-changer. Because if you’re anything like me, most of the time you finish cooking ten minutes before guests are supposed to be arriving, so then you’re panicked, don’t have enough time to get ready, and feel like a frantic mess when your guests walk through the door.
Do your hair and makeup first, do your cooking and prep work, and then change with the few minutes you have before guests arrive. That way, if nothing else, you can feel together and ready to welcome your guests, rather than being in the shower when they pull into your driveway.
Because remember, hospitality is all about creating space for people to belong, to come as they are, to feel invited and loved, and to leave feeling a bit fuller than when they came (and I don’t just mean because they ate a second helping at dessert!).
It’s far more important that you’re in a good headspace, ready to focus on your guests and how you can provide sustenance for their souls, rather than being stressed about painting over that one scuff mark in the living room that you are just sure everyone will notice.
Give yourself some grace and don’t give up on welcoming others in and sharing life with them in the process, because it’s so worth it.
Learn More About Hospitality
And if you want even more tips and ideas for how to successfully host, no matter the phase of life you’re in or the space you’re working with, then give the full podcast episode a listen to learn:
- What the real purpose of hospitality is
- How to make hosting less stressful and more fun
- Ways to use lighting, space, and music to set the mood of your event
- Advice for hosting with dietary restrictions
- Top tips to create a Pinterest-worthy charcuterie board
- How to host when you aren’t in your dream home
To learn more about hospitality from Kayty, and to access other helpful resources and workshops, check out gatherintentionalliving.com.
We’d love to hear from you! What is one tip from today’s episode that you hope to implement the next time you host? Let us know in the comments, along with any other tips you have to share from your own experiences hosting!