Ease Your Entertaining Anxiety

When a busy schedule and an unfinished home made entertaining friends and family stressful, Katie Hoesch found wisdom and inspiration between the pages of a favorite book.

I grew up watching my mom and dad entertain, and my mom is phenomenal. She’d have the table set the day before, and they’d have an amazing appetizer, a great drink perfect for the season, and that casually rolled into this amazing meal with homemade sauces, salads and the best bread in town and meat that’s cooked perfectly. But in my life with three kids, I’m still sweeping things into closets until the first guest arrives. 

I love entertaining, but I always wanted the house to be perfect—to have the perfect meal and make sure everything and everyone was ready. 

On my birthday, a friend gave me this book called Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist. I immediately connected with the book. Niequist says food is your common offering and your currency. When things are horrible and when things are really good, that’s what you bring. Food speaks for you when words can’t. She didn’t have a ton of experience with entertaining, but she had a lot of experience with great food. In one section, she says: “It’s not actually strictly about food for me. It’s about what happens when we slow down, look into each other’s faces, skip our workouts every so often to celebrate, when we pop the champagne for no other reason than the faces we love are gathered around the table.”

The game-changer for me was when my husband had his manager coming through town. I had never met these people, and I asked if he could come here. I did my best to make sure I had good recipes and a good meal. I made sure I had Moscow mules ready when they arrived. There was something that changed for me, and I realized how important it was to make that time and put that effort in to invite people over.

After that, I was on a mission. Who could I invite over? I looked for opportunities. One of my childhood friends was passing through town, so I invited her and her dad over. He was such a wonderful influence and someone I adored. He got to see me as an adult and see my kids and my husband. I cried when they left. It wasn’t that I was sad; it was that this came full-circle for me in my life.

I think my biggest lesson was being able to press pause and appreciate the people in my home. Before, I was so busy worrying about dessert and doing the dishes, I wasn’t stopping to listen to my company and appreciate what was around me. Niequist addresses this in her book in the chapter called “Present Over Perfect” about how there’s Pinterest and so many things you feel you should do to be a good mom or host. She talks about taking that pressure off of yourself. I still have the perfectionist side of things, but this has allowed me to say yes more often. Finding the time is hard, but there’s never going to be a perfect time. I’ve yet to look back and feel I shouldn’t have had that person over because it was too rushed.

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