The number one reason we bought this house was because it was perfect for entertaining, and entertain we do.  A lot a lot a lot a lot a lot.
But you see, I used to be a total over the edge freakshow when it came to getting ready for parties. I would worry and work and stress to the point that I couldn't even enjoy the festivities.
That is not what it should be about.
Something had to change in a big and dramatic way.
We were invited to dinner at a new friend's house and that night changed everything for me.
The house wasn't perfect.
The dinner was simple.  The dessert was a bag of store bought cookies.
But that wasn't the point.
We were the point. 
They love people.  They love to share meals and their home.
It wasn't over the top.
Martha wasn't involved.
But it was honestly one of the the most memorable meals.
That simple night made me realize two things,
I want to have my home filled with people all of the time.  Unexpected.  Unscheduled.
That meant I had to give up my ideas of perfection.
Little by little I have been dropping my total psycho ways.
Here are a few things that I have learned along the journey:
1.  None of your guests will show up wearing white gloves to scrutinize your cleaning skills.
I like the house picked up, but I no longer stress over making every single square inch totally sparkling, shiny and spotless.  Even when it is, one of the three small children have a way of instantly messing it up.  That is the season that we are in.  I got tired of yelling.  They got tired of hearing me yell.  Kids live here.  I am not the Queen of England, nor do I have her staff.
Besides, a friend that would be offended by seeming imperfection, is honestly a friend I would rather not invite over.
2.  People LOVE to help.
Let them.  I used to make every single thing that I served.  Don't get me wrong, I love to cook, but I also love to have food show up in my guests arms when they ring the doorbell.
Do you have a friend who could come over early to set up?
Let them.  It is so much more fun.
Don't be afraid to let people stay late to clean up along side you either.
My friends are phenomenal.  They rock the dishes, the trash, help tear down and don't leave until my house is back to normal.  It is amazing.  If you don't have friends that will do that I suggest you get some new friends.
3.  Don't try new or complicated recipes.
This one is hard for me, but I have learned they very hard way.
I stick to the basics, the ones that have proven time and time again to be crowd pleasers.
Chances are, if you are coming over you will be served one or all of the following things:
I have made all of them so many times, that I hardly need the recipe cards.  Knowing that they will work, means there is one less thing that I have to worry about.  One less thing to worry about means the atmosphere in my house is much more pleasant.
4.  I love open houses, potlucks, bbq's, make your own pizza nights, and serving things family style.
Simple, unfussy, yummy, happiness.  Stressed hosts = stressed guests.  Happy hosts = happy guests.
5.  Paper plates and disposable utensils.
Seriously.  Sorry Earth, a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do.
6.  Give your guests something to do.
Apples to Apples, Whoonu, Would You Rather, and Taboo are great party games. 
Consider putting the big game on the tv, get out the Wii, play Rock Band.
Games aren't just for kids and teenagers, they are great icebreakers and work magic at getting people out of their shells.

Before you know it, you will suddenly enjoy having people over.
You will laugh at how crazy and complicated you used to make it.
Think of your favorite times with friends...  I bet they weren't stuffy, over the top affairs.
Our best times?
Simple nights, cozy food, happy friends.

What are your favorite entertaining tips?


  1. YES. More people need to
    "get" this. It's all about people, not about stuff.

    And you have to get the game "Things". I'm telling you, it is one of the most fun group games I have EVER played. Hilarious whether you are playing with your best friends or people you barely know. Even better with a wide range of ages. You will thank me.

  2. I love the little sign I saw at someone's house. It said, "If you came to see me, come right in. If you came to see my house, call for an appointment." We gave up the "perfect" home part a while back and it is so much better. With 7 children, our house is never perfect anymore. Too bad. But people sure do love being in our home. :)

  3. I absolutely love this post! I used to get so uptight about having people over. Just two nights ago we had company at the last minute. The house was NOT the way I would usually have it for company - the floors needed to be mopped and there were toys scattered everywhere. They didn't care!

  4. "Lower the bar". That's TOTALLY my tip. If people expect good enough, they'll be thrilled with "it actually worked out".

    In our circle I'm known for crockpot soup, brown-n-serve rolls and an open bar. People come to see us, not our house and we like to keep it that way.

    Happy Holidays

  5. i'm taking notes from you! i'm the gal who is currently cleaning all our baseboards. kind of kills the christmas mood. great post!

  6. i'm working on my neurotic tendencies! i think i have a long way to go! :)

    and i totally used those exact same super cute paper plates/cups/napkins for the mops party i hosted on tuesday night! :)

  7. I would like to come over. The end. :)

  8. I love this. And having friends pop over regularly, I'm amazed at how stressed I still get. I seriously thought I would be over it by now. So, thank you. THANK YOU! xx

  9. Thank you for the reminder. I put off having people over because something isn't "just right". Great ideas and ways to keep it simple and focus on the people!

  10. You got it girl. That is a great lesson to learn. Took me a while but so freed me when I got it.

  11. you said blue cheese crack....i love you....:)

  12. Great tips. I would add to do things such as set up of plates or cooking as much as possible the days before. Even if you can't make it ahead of time, I bet you can do much of the prep work in advance like chopping veggies so that your kitchen functions like a magical Food Network set. Not only does it save you time the day of and save you stress the day of but it helps keep down the cooking mess. Around the holiday time when I am making a dip, I double it. Then freeze half because I know a week or two later I will need another dip. Or I will be so tired that I eat it for dinner. Either way, good to have in the freezer just in case.

  13. yay!
    we just had our whole block over tonight. everyone brought yummy food....the women talked in one room....the men played pool in the other room. :)
    everyone was very happy.
    we love to entertain too.
    your advice is DEAD ON.
    as always.

  14. Holla!
    "I got tired of yelling. They got tired of hearing me yell. Kids live here. I am not the Queen of England, nor do I have her staff.
    Besides, a friend that would be offended by seeming imperfection, is honestly a friend I would rather not invite over."

    Thank you. I needed that reminder.

  15. Oh and my go-to recipe is baked penne and a bag of salad :)

    1 jar Ragu
    1 box penne pasta (cooked)
    1 lb browned meat
    1 cup cheese

    combine it all, bake at 350 for 15 minutes and serve - oh and I usually throw another sprinkle of cheese on top to melt over the entire thing.

    Dessert? Costo anything :) But I think I'll start serving toffee crack . . .

  16. Oh how I needed this post. Thank you. I have never had a spotless house, but have obsessed over that fact as I always crave people coming over. And entertaining. So linking to this one. Love it.

  17. Your post was exactly what I needed to read today. I grew up in a home where guests were not allowed unless everything looked flawless, and I vowed not to operate the same way as an adult. Still, I find myself panicking and overdoing it when we have guests over. I will employ some of your suggestions this Christmas... thank you!

  18. I love this post and I will have to refer to it during my psycho moments before entertaining. Thank you for bringing me down a notch.

  19. i love this post overall and this specifically:
    I am not the Queen of England, nor do I have her staff.
    one time when i was freaking out my husband was like, "we LIVE here" and i was like, "i know, but i don't want it to look like that." and as the words were coming out, i was like omg that's terrible!!!! now i never freak out. i can seriously say NEVER. it's not worth it. and this: stressed host = stressed guests, is unfortunately exactly why we've told my MIL we're not coming anymore for thanksgiving. isn't that sad? she draws tears out from her guests every year. i NEVER want to be guilty of that. so i just do what i can, ask for help, take help, and if i forget something or it's not perfect...pour another glass of wine! :) happy hosting to you!!!

  20. Wonderful post. Had friends for dinner last night and picked the whole meal up at Sams. Easy peasy. Made your soup AGAIN today. We LOVE that stuff.

  21. This is such a great post, and something I need to start practicing. I would love to have people over more but get terrified by the prep. I like everything to be perfect. But I know this makes me not have people over as much as we should. :) Thanks for the tips.

  22. Despite what the Food Network would have you's not about the food at all. We're the same. We have tons of people over all the time and I have most people fooled that I have a clean house. We have so many church fellowshipping groups and functions for every age. We make the SAME thing for any guest that comes - tri-tip with tater tots, salad, and a simple dessert (hubby cooks meat to make even easier). I always ask them to help me in some way and if it's a large group gathering, always ask others to bring a dish for potluck and we provide hamburgers and drinks and paper goods. So simple and easy and we can do it at the drop of a hat - with hardly any notice. I have changed my ways as well! Glad to hear you have too!

    Becky B.

  23. i'm the queen of wanting everything to be homemade. i've finally adopted this mindframe and it's really helped with the stress level: make what you can...if you run out of time, there's always costco. seems silly, but it makes my baking and cooking less harried and insane because i don't feel so rushed and HAVING to finish.

    oh, and someone once told me: NEVER MOP YOUR FLOORS BEFORE A PARTY. no one looks at your floors and they'll look awful by the end of the night anyway, so even if people DO look down, they'll just assume it was from the party. and not the oatmeal that was spilled a week ago...

  24. i could really learn so much from you. im overwhelmed by your being so under-whelmed by what would be totally overwhelming to me. i need entertaining practice...

  25. I usually just "pick up" for friends but clean like crazy for family coming over. It's a little backwards, but I actually DO have the mother in law that will make comments about things not being clean. sigh.
    Those recipes are some of our "go to" dishes! I'm making trays and trays of toffee crack right now as gifts for my husbands office.

  26. I enjoyed this post. Even though I try to be like "Martha" I feel better when I am myself. And now I am off to make some Toffee Crack!!!!

  27. I totally get this me, a sparkling house now means I'm not spending enough time with my kids. Clean, yes. Sparkling to the extent that it makes me crazy??Nope.

  28. i am the crazy house and food must be perfect host. i knew i had a problem when our teens showed up one sunday night and my floor hadn't been mopped and i was tempted to make them wait to come in the house. seriously they are teens they do not care! i am slowly working on it but it is hard!!

  29. BLESS you for posting this. I need to print this out and keep it in my kitchen. I tend to get stressed about having company, then when all is said and done, there was really no need for it.

  30. I really, really needed this post. THANK YOU, Joy!!!! Happy New Year. :)

  31. I had to come back and tell you I made Blue Cheese Crack for Christmas... and LOVED it. Yum. I could have eaten it for days. If I hadn't eat all of it that day. Thanks for sharing the post!