Saturday, January 28, 2012

Entertaining: Do's and Don'ts

I love entertaining. It's something I never knew I loved until I got married and started having people over. I had no idea what to do! But over time, I got ideas of how to have my house in order and cook and have a meal ready for people to come over! I really love having an excuse to super clean my house (my house doesn't look like this all the time, folks!) and to cook some really yummy food. It's the perfect combination of getting my house clean, cooking, and hanging out with friends!! But although I love it, entertaining has become a pretty stressful thing around here.
Although people might say I'm good at entertaining, they don't see the mayhem that goes on around my house before people arrive for dinner. Trying to clean a house with little ones running around who practically destroy your best efforts right behind you is exhausting. I try to clean throughout the week if I know people are coming over, but how quickly things get in disarray as the kids play. I don't want to tell them they can't play or make a mess, but inevitably their rooms go off limits at some point closer to when people will come. They just can't help but destroy them!
I have done a pretty good job of stressing out my poor husband when company is due to come, leaving him probably wishing we didn't entertain instead of all the stress that comes with people coming over. I guess I have 2 options: to either let go of my standards of how the house should look when people come over or have a better cleaning/cooking schedule that allows more time to get the house ready.
But it's not all horrible!! I really do enjoy it, and I will share some of the good things I have learned to do when having guests over, which I did a lot more of in Chicago, and am starting to do more of here in Oklahoma!!

I love to have people over for dinner, moms over for a morning playdate with a mid-morning snack, an afternoon playdate with snacks for the kids, dinner with friends, and I have been wanting to do a brunch for the ladies! Someday!! I have learned to plan to cook during the kids nap time and to try to keep as much stuff warm in crockpots so that I'm not rushing around finishing dinner when company gets here. I used to be finishing my cooking when people were walking in the door, and if I wasn't finished, it was stressful to try to talk to them while measuring ingredients and cooking. I would rather calmly greet people at the door and be able to talk to them instead of frantically cooking and finishing dinner!!
Something else I did was to start writing down dinners that went well for company, were easy, and had a good reaction. That way when company is coming over, I can just look up a meal I haven't made for them, and it's something I'm familiar with and I'm not as stressed out about it. I used to always cook a new recipe for company, but using a familiar meal cuts down on the nerves about dinner turning out!!
With little kids, you can still clean earlier in the week and get things done, and then close off the rooms, like the bathroom, master bedroom, kitchen counters, surfaces, decluttering, etc. You can pick the areas that they can't reach or you can shut off to clean earlier in the week, and save the main areas that they will destroy throughout the week for last. That way you aren't cleaning the same area more than once.
Do you think my house always looks like this?? Why do you think I had to take a picture? To enjoy this sweet, brief moment!!
And the more you can get done ahead of time makes your time with company more enjoyable. Get out all the plates, napkins, utensils, and cups. Make the drinks ahead of time and have them in the fridge. Prep the coffee for dessert, set out dessert plates and forks, and pick a dessert you can make a day or more in advance so that isn't even on your list for that day!! Make to-do lists for each day until they arrive, so all the stress isn't at the last minute. Make a to-do list for your husband on the Monday before they come so he has all week to get it done. Like right now, since I'm pregnant, I can't do heavy lifting. So I try to save all the big stuff for him to do when he gets home from work. That way you aren't yelling at him at the last minute to get stuff done. He knows ahead of time what you expect him to do, there isn't miscommunication about it, and he can get it done in his time. Which believe me, isn't your time!!
So, sorry this is so long!! Hopefully this might give you some ideas about what to do, and what not to do, and of course, adapt it to how you like to entertain and get things done!!

Happy Entertaining!!

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