I hosted a girls weekend at my house last week and it was pure, unadulterated, 100% enjoyment–even the getting ready for six girls to be at my house all weekend.  I love hosting LOVE LOVE LOVE it.  I try to focus on doing things I like and I try to avoid doing things I hate–even when it comes to hosting.  I’ve learned that I enjoy decorating for a party with easy creative designs and I enjoy being able to cook for everyone but not to the point where it keeps me in the kitchen.

So the best way for me and my personality to host a party is::

  • enjoy looking forward and anticipating the weekend (I start setting up a week before no one cares if pink decorations are out for a week at my house)
  • start a pinboard FSP stands for Fun Sleepover Party I thought we’d do a craft but ended up we just wanted to hang out
  • decide on a theme based on something general or an overall feeling
  • buy fresh flowers because I LOVE them and they make me feel good (do something for yourself!)
  • decorate with inexpensive yet WOW factor ideas
  • cook something I’ve made before and only cook for the first meal and also make a few things ahead of time
  • buy some food premade (grilled chicken from Earth Fare and the sauces from Cheesecake Factory for the lettuce wraps) semi-homemade works great for a fun people filled weekend
  • say yes when someone offers help (Ellen lives close enough to come early, she helped prep dinner, bought my wine glasses last-minute and brought breakfast for the next morning!)
  • enjoy the people when they are here and don’t worry about cleaning every part of the kitchen to perfection–I can do that when they leave

how to make pinwheels

First the back story.

Last October I attended the Relevant Conference (this year they changed the name to Allume) and you know how when you go to conferences you end up hanging out in a hotel room talking with a small group of people?  Well the little group of us who connected there (some knew each other before, some didn’t) had a great time.  And back in January I heard my phone start beeping crazily with tweets from them including all our names from the room time hang out talking about getting together.  It didn’t take me long to figure out these girls were seriously serious and since they live in all parts of the country, meeting up would require flying.  I’m no dummy so I immediately offered up my house for a meeting place.  I’d much rather host than fly.

So as hard as it was not to invite everyone who reads this blog or every blogger I’m friends with, or all of my dear real life friends, this group just kind of choose itself and although I ended up hosting, the people included weren’t a result of me sending out invites to some private group–this was a meeting of girls who spent some great time together last year and took the risk and initiative to say “hey, that was great, let’s do it again”.

Back to the house stuff…

I LOVE for my home to look festive, pulled together and extra special when I have a get together but, I learned long ago not to try to come up with some elaborate theme, although having a general theme or purpose can be helpful. When I hosted my sister’s book signing party the theme was simply book pages.  This time I wanted the theme or feel of the weekend to be girly, fun, and relaxing.    That doesn’t mean we all have to bring our ball gowns and bring in a manicurist and masseuse to come for the weekend.  Oh no.  When you choose a theme you want it to be something that will be a workhorse for you, not something you have to be a slave for.  I used a few five-minute ideas that quickly added some whimsical girliness into my house.

simply cut rectangles, fold in half, snip a “V” shape out and secure on a string with a bit o’ hot glue {read in an Irish accent}

shop the house for anything that can go with the theme and or come in handy pile it all up someplace to be at the ready in case you need it (I piled mine on my tertiary table)

how to make a tiny paper banner

place cards from Lisa Leonard Designs

just hot glue a pair of paper dots together on a string

hmmmmm, I love experimenting in my laboratory, I mean in my home

yep. just tie a bunch of balloons together and drape on your chandelier. and then don’t forget to NOT turn the light on

major wow factor for about $4 worth of balloons

$2 for 6 pink thrifted candles completed the girly feel

ellen, tracey, hayley, gussy (my fellow Tanaznia traveler), emily (my sister!) and my dog who believes the entire weekend centered around himself,  caroline‘s plane got in after dinner

lettuce wraps (with Earth Fare grilled chicken and Cheesecake Factory bought sauces) PW’s olive cheese bread and lemon pasta for dinner and of course these for desert

loot from our favorite things (we each brought 6 of something we love–one for everyone)

chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool

Of course, I didn’t think about taking a group picture until after Emily and Hayley left, at the very last-minute my son snapped this.  What does it say about me that I have more photos of balloons than people?  Never mind, I don’t want to know.  And of course it’s impossible to capture the very best part of the entire weekend.  The real connections, risky sharing, tears, laughter, vulnerability, and true friendship that continues to grow.  I am so grateful this group of girls rose up and said “Hey, let’s get together”.   And it was such an unexpected gift to sit in my family room with Caroline, my in town friend who moved away in December–we didn’t think she was going to be able to come but, her husband surprised her last-minute with the trip here.

What part of your personality comes out when you are hosting?  What’s your favorite and least favorite part?