Q: Hi Katherine! I am hosting my first “grown-up” party for some friends, and I know there is so much to do. How can I enjoy the evening and not feel stressed out? ~ Angela
Angela, thank you for asking! It can be a daunting task to host a party, and I am glad you are taking the initiative.
After twenty years of navigating the stress associated with hosting, I have three hints to offer that I hope will help guide you as you welcome others into your home.
The best way to enjoy your own party is to think ahead, work ahead, and practice often.
Whatever you do, try not to leave making the plans until the last minute. Take time while the event is weeks away to make decisions and come up with a strategy for executing those decisions that will work for you. This will help eliminate over-extending yourself or pushing yourself past your limits, which always leads to stress.
Do as much in advance as possible. The less you have to worry about at the last minute, the freer you are to connect and enjoy your own event. There are some things that must wait until the last minute (lighting candles, turning on music, filling water glasses), but the majority of tasks can (and should) be done in advance.
No one gets it right the first time. Or the twentieth time. We learn something new at every turn, and the only way to get more comfortable with hospitality is to practice. Things will go right. Things will go wrong. And we will keep at it because along the way, as we create space for others, our hearts are changed.
As a final note, before you begin planning menus or choosing decor, remember to keep your heart focused on why we welcome others in the first place. We welcome others because we want to express love and connect with our guests. When we welcome others into our home, yes, there are a lot of things to worry about, but those things are never primary.
I have to continually remind myself of this truth as I prepare for an evening of hosting, but even more so when my guests are in my home. When I find myself in a tizzy, worrying about things that are important but not primary, I take a deep breath, refocus, and then actively take a step toward being more present.
Angela, I wish you the best and hope your party is a success!