Twice in the past month I’ve hosted a housefull of friends for a long weekend.
Chad and the boys packed up their bags, I put clean sheets on beds in rooms decorated with car posters and aquariums, and I opened up our home in spite of the fact that it’s unfinished and undone.
And I’m just now coming out of about a year of hospitality hiatus.
I’m still remembering/learning how to be a gracious hostess and starting with two groups of friends who already know me and my grouchy quirks makes for an easy re-entry into the world of hospitality.
Plus, I’m a major introvert. I’m not shy, I don’t hate people (usually) I just would rather be alone and people, any kind, drain my energy. So an hour before I have any type of people activity, I start hating myself for saying yes and wishing a disaster would happen so I would have a good excuse not to have to go.
Every time I’m with people it starts with me sweating and wishing I wasn’t there, wishing I could just turn into a cat and lay on the floor. And most times end with me being really happy I pushed through, because people can be the worst, but they can also be the very best!
I’m an introvert who enjoys having people over. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous, tired or worried every time people come through my door. It just means I invite them over anyway.
My introverting tips for inviting people over:
Personal: Have a place, anyplace where you can go and close a door. Especially if people are spending the night. I set up a bed in our crazy unfinished basement. I was the first one in bed every night and no one was offended. We are all adults, they know I’m an early bird, and no one needed me to stay up late and tuck them into bed.
Consider the friend mix: Invite good conversationalists. As a hosting introvert, you don’t want to have to feel responsible for carrying the conversation. I want to have enough energy to listen well, but I don’t want to feel like I need to entertain a quiet room.
Food: Go for Semi-homemade. I like to cook a few things, but I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen. I buy some Earth Fare chicken salad and grilled chicken, and Trader Joe’s macaroons always seem fancy for about four dollars. The only things I cooked over the weekend were quiche for one breakfast and Edie’s Cheese Tortellini soup for dinner.
I’ve made both of these recipes for years and I can make them while having a conversation, laughing at a funny joke and without measuring a single item.
I provided salad and crackers and cheese and granola bars and fruit and yogurt and great coffee (a must) and even though we only ate out for two meals, I didn’t have to spend the entire time cooking.
Coffee: I want to have fantastic coffee that isn’t dependent on me to make. I’ve used this machine for a few years, it’s easy to tell guests how to use it, so if someone wakes up early, they can make their own without waiting on me to come to the kitchen. It makes espresso or regular coffee and it’s fantastic every time.
House: Flowers and candles say “welcome”. Trader Joe’s had a great flower selection–I was able to get all of those flowers in the photo above from TJs, but if I can’t find any from there I’ll order from The Bouqs (2 or 3 days in advance is all I usually need–click this link to save $10). I restock my favorite candles, but my sister brought her oils and diffused them so I didn’t even light my candles.
I also hired a cleaning service to clean the house. (it cost less than I expected!) I’ve had extra work lately, but I wanted my guests to have a clean house without me hustling like a crazy lady to get everything done. I’ve found if I’m frantically cleaning before people come, I can’t fully be present when they arrive.
These things say “I thought about you and care for you” without you having to speak a work (yay introverts!)
Things I didn’t do:
I did not write cute notes with our internet password to leave on each pillow.
I did not over schedule, I had an idea of when we might leave the house and some local stops and restaurants ready so we could hit if we wanted. But ultimately the group decided where and when we wanted to go out.
I did not worry about every detail, it’s winter o’clock, the property is bare and brown and a few planters of something pretty and fresh pine straw at the back door would have been nice, but I didn’t have the time.
I didn’t NOT ask my friends to come over because things weren’t ready or perfect. I choose to trust them with my house and my self. And I’m really glad I did.