Marta on the Move

#155 Hosting and Toasting! Tips on Creating a More Inclusive and Welcoming Home. How to Not Get Burned Out Doing it.

Do you often want to host a gathering, but stop yourself because of the work involved?

Would you like to get invited to more intimate dinner parties, hangs at friends and loved ones houses?

If so this episode is for you. This has been something I have long thought about but never put my thoughts on paper. This is essentially a note to both hosts and guests to open the line of communication so they can understand each other and see things from each other’s perspective.

My husband and I love hosting at our home. We have done so for many many years in our older house. We just moved in April, and our house now is much larger than our apartment sized place. Even though our space was small, we always managed to cram it with loving and fun memories of dinner parties, wine tastings, xmas parties, Paella evenings and more.

We want to share space with others, and we are two humans who love to open our home and, make it welcoming. Do we do this as often as we would like to? No, we don’t.

Why don’t we? For one, it takes a lot of work. Cooking, prep, planning, cleaning, before and after the party is tiring. Is there space for everyone? Do we have enough chairs? Enough cups? Just the planning involved can become overwhelming and instantly steal the lovely dream of friends or family gathering around the table.

There is a fix to this, you just have to not be afraid to put it out there. Ready?

You need boundaries and clear guidelines for your home. You have to transport it into more of a communal hangout. What does this mean? It means that guests should take some responsibilities in the parts that fall on the host.

A note to guests- Please make yourself at home is a statement that is widely used but rarely followed. Do you wash dishes in your house? Take off your shoes? Do you cook in your home? Place a glass back to where it originally sat? Yes. You do.

When Phil and I visit people’s homes we automatically take off our shoes, we bring something to share, and we always help with cooking, or cleaning afterwards. In other words, we want to be a part of the evening, and we also want to be invited again and again. We want to be great guests. We don’t expect any grand event. We just love the idea of visiting with friends in their space. It is a gift to share your space with others, and to be a guest in it.

Tips For Hosts-

  1. “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good” I have learned this quote the past year and it is so true. Just do it. Don’t make it a big thing. Nobody expects perfection, and if they did… maybe they aren’t the right people to invite to your house. Just saying. A great friend or family member would just feel happy to be invited into your sacred space.
  2. Do or make something that allows you to actually HANG out with your guests. Whatever that is. Make a soup to share, pre-prep, make a batch cocktail. You aren’t a server and unless it is a super intimate dinner party, do yourself a favor and join your guests.
  3. Be Clear and Have Boundaries- If you don’t tell someone something, how will they ever know? This is more for the American audience- How many times has someone asked you if they should take off their shoes, and you felt bad and said… “Nah, don’t worry about it” You immediately set a lax rule in your home. I say this is for the American audience because it is very normal to remove your shoes in house’s overseas. BE CLEAR in what you want, speak up. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings, if anything you will help them because guests want clear guidelines. You just aren’t doing that with them… sorry you aren’t. You are not the only one, I have done it many a time. Don’t feel bad. Just be better next time. This is also part of not being able to ask for help from others. Something I am personally looking at in myself. Which makes sense that the next tip would be…
  4. Ask For Help- It is ok. Reach out and see if friends want to cook together. Get out of your head. Step outside of your comfort zone. Nothing bothers me more than going to a friend’s house for dinner and not being able to help. I always offer, and they usually say “Nah, you relax” NOPE, give them a task.
  5. Ask Someone OUTSIDE of your inner onion– Don’t be afraid to ask someone you haven’t before to join a gathering. They are aren’t going to invite themselves, and you probably think they don’t want to be bothered, or aren’t that close of a friend. I have news for you, new friends are out there. Much like the truth. HEHE Xfiles… No seriously, there are new friends just waiting to be had, you just have to be brave enough to reach out to them.
  6. Have some sort of ice breaker or game handy. Have a theme, a topic to delve into, or a game/ question handy that helps smooth out awkward conversations. Give the event a reason, even if it is hang in your pj’s night.
  7. Don’t sit people who came together. It is a no no if you are doing a seating chart or sitting down to dinner. Spark new conversations and connections by spitting up couples and close friends.
  8. Set up your home for success– Do you need to ask others to BYOC- Bring Your Own Chair? or BYOB- Bring Your Own Blanket? Do so. Many hands lifts heavy things easily.
  9. Standing and Seperating- Do it all. Have spaces for others and encourage guests to spread out and take up space in different parts of the room. Encourage mingling while standing or hanging in the kitchen…. #10
  10. KITCHEN TAKEOVER– Have friends take over your kitchen for a day. It’s a thing, you should try it. It’s fun.
  11. Don’t worry about Your Place Being Spotless- When I get invited to someone’s home, I personally feel so a part of their lives that their average everyday “stuff” is out. Paperwork, unread letters or bills. The fact that they are comfortable with me seeing that part of their lives. Not the cookie cutter version of what people want them to see. A home doesn’t have to be picture perfect to host. It should be warm and welcoming. I mean, don’t leave your dirty underwear out or anything, but don’t obsess that everything has to be PERFECT. Otherwise you won’t ever host.
  12. You Don’t Always Need Food- Having quick hangouts with friends is a great way to warm up your home and make it welcoming. Maybe tea for an hour after work? Sorting through some old photos you need help with. Hanging pictures? Open up your idea box and invite some friends to hang without food. Just be clear in what kind of gathering you are having.
  13. Be Spontaneous- Don’t wait and plan an event in the future. Sometimes you will get so excited for an idea and then as the date. approaches you are dreading it. It happens to guests and to hosts. MIX IT UP! If the mood takes you, open your home this evening! Throw some texts out there and see who bites! Imagine this- If you are excited to hang out this evening, the people who say yes to your invitation are equally excited! How could you not have an excellent time when both moods are aligned? You may not get a ton of guests, but learning to be more flexible will guarantee surprise and welcoming events for your future 🙂 It is also the best kind of infectious thing. Once you do this with others, they will feel more confident to offer it to you as well.

For Guests- Some Simple Tips to Follow.

  1. Take Off Your Shoes- Always, don’t ask. Just do it.
  2. Bring Something to Share- A bottle of wine, a side dish, a game, a fun story. Always bring something to share with the group.
  3. Offer to Help, or Demand It- So many times hosts will deny they need help in the kitchen or setting up. Even if you ask “Can I help?” Don’t take no for answer. A better question would be to say ” What can I do?” If they say nothing I usually follow up by saying “Please, let me do something I love to work in the kitchen and I have idle hands” This usually does the trick, and I am now part of the experience.
  4. Help Clean Up Afterwards- Want invited back? I don’t care if you are the patriarch of the family. Pick up your dish.
  5. Host the Next Event- Offer to host the next event that is happening and follow through.
  6. Ask if You Can Bring a Friend-Sometimes considered a risky question, I personally love when guests ask if they can bring someone. Def don’t show up with a stranger without asking.
  7. Follow Up Text- Just a quick thank you to show you had a good time and appreciate being invited!
  8. French Goodbye- Do this at a large party. Don’t break up the event and start the domino goodbye effect. It is a curse. Obviously for small gatherings tell the guest you have to leave.
  9. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome- Read the room. If hosts are yawning a lot and fidgeting. Time to go!

Obviously, there are a lot of ideas when it comes to hosting an event in your home. These are just some of my opinions. For me personally, I want an experience with the host, and would love to be involved as much as I can be to help. It is those memories that make the best times!

Please remember that someone out there would love to hang at your place, that someone is probably me. 🙂 Don’t be afraid to host, AND be a great guest. Hoping for great gatherings this holiday season for all of you!

Speaking of being inclusive- I host a donation based stress relief and meditation class every Sunday online at 8pm. In addition to seeing my regular students, when new faces pop up on my screen to join, it makes me SO happy. I send out the email link on my newsletter each week and I really hope you will join us! You don’t need prior experience. We breathe, we stretch, we calm the mind and connect. Come join us 🙂



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