Taking a risk by hosting an Easter dinner party

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by Sandy

Sandy Coughlin is an author, blogger, wife, and mom to three children. She lives in Oregon and loves to develop recipes, cook, and host dinner parties. Read more at Reluctant Entertainer.

It’s Eleanor Roosevelt who said that she tried to do something risky every day. Maybe something new, uncomfortable, or different.

Maybe that something “new” is hosting your first Easter dinner in your home this year, and you’re scared to death. I was fortunate because while I was growing up, my mother taught me a lot about entertaining—but I realize that many people didn’t have this sort of role model.

We can be so focused and locked into our busy schedules and routines that we skip one of the most important gifts that we can give ourselves and our children. That gift is practicing and showing our children what hospitality looks like.

Signs of genuine hospitality

• We make others feel warm and welcome in our homes. The ability to love people where they are at and to be interested in their lives.
To provide good food and conversation for others.

We put our imperfections aside. It’s okay to have mix-matched goblets, or slightly burned rolls, or an imperfect house. Showing our children how to improvise is a gift in itself.

• We don’t compare ourselves with others. Remember why you are having people over, don’t think about what others have and what you don’t have. Keep your mind on things that really matter and let go of the “magazine-perfect” image.

• We focus on the small ways we can make a difference in the lives of others. It’s not always about us.

• We love our families first. Let your family see that, yes, it takes work to bring it all together (it might be a little tense, especially the hour before the guests arrive), but that entertaining can be a family affair and we can love each other during the process. Show that when the door is opened, the smiles on our faces are real and not forced.

Many people don’t want to spend the money or put up with the fuss of entertaining

I get that. It’s true, it takes thought, effort, sometimes hard work, and money to host others. But don’t forget about the reason for having people over. I’ve often told my kids that we’re hosting others so we can get to know them better. We’re putting ourselves aside—our pocketbooks and our time—and we’re investing in their lives.

I believe if we focus on an attitude of giving, without thinking of what we’ll get in return, we’ll change our minds and hearts toward others. Hospitality truly is a matter of the heart.

My plan

I’m hosting this year. The date is easy (Easter). I’m currently putting the menu together and delegating several dishes, which will save me money and time. I’m counting “heads” and coming up with a plan for where our guests will sit.

I’m also giving myself a pep talk so that I will not overcomplicate the day. I will make it as enjoyable as possible for my family (our family always see us at our worst, don’t they?) and will not save things for the last minute, thus making everyone miserable.

I will focus on the reason for our celebration (I love Easter!), and on that day, I’ll hopefully just sit back and enjoy our family and friends. (Especially my immediate family, as they are growing up so quickly—soon they’ll all be out of the house, and then entertaining will take on a different flavor.)

So, with Easter right around the corner—or maybe for another upcoming entertaining opportunity—ask for help if you’re uncomfortable. There are lots of entertaining tips on my blog, written for people reluctant to entertain (such as learning how to push past your fears).

Maybe you can find a friend who will entertain with you. Hosting together can be a really fun way to have a party, especially if it’s with a seasoned hostess you can learn from.

“Risk something every day.” Thank you, Eleanor!

Are you inviting others over for Easter?

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Comments

  1. Hi, not planning on inviting anyone for Easter, however after reading your article I now feel a little inspired. I love you pic of your table setting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nice post, Sandy. Inspiring :)

  3. You are always so inspiring to those of us who at heart are reluctant but really do want to reach out :)

  4. Ugggh, totally convicting. “I believe if we focus on an attitude of giving, without thinking of what we’ll get in return, we’ll change our minds and hearts toward others. Hospitality truly is a matter of the heart.”
    Time to take a closer look at my heart. Think I’ll copy this post into my notes to reread every time I feel like canceling plans because it’s too much work. Thanks for this post.

  5. Wow, this really spoke to me. I have been trying to decide whether to have people over for Easter, and this sealed the deal. Thanks!

    (Also, I’m a terrible one for getting all het up right before the guests arrive and making things tenser than they need to be. But with practice, I’m getting better!)

  6. I am 51, married just five years, and I love having people over. I can’t cook, but my friends and family know that, and they help out. People are so grateful to have a place to gather, they are happy to bring something along to add to the meal.

    This is a lovely post!

    I’m hosting Easter, too.

  7. I, too, am fortunate to have been raised in a home where hospitality was pretty much a constant thing. I am so grateful. Right now we don’t have a lot of money, but I agree, something as simple as having someone else bring a side or dessert can really help both on the finances and on the stress. It also allows our guests to contribute which many people like doing.

    One thing I like to ask is if they have a special Easter tradition (a particular food item they always eat). If they do, then I ask them to bring that. That always gives a conversation topic too because we talk about the tradition, etc.

    Thanks so much for the encouraging words. I’m looking forward to our Easter!

    • I’ve done that, too, Johanna … ask people to bring their “specialty” dish to make the holiday even more special. I love it when everyone contributes. Happy Easter!

  8. Your timing for this post was perfect! We are having another family over for dinner on Friday night and these reminders were exactly what I needed. As the week went on I was finding myself getting more and more stressed about making the house perfect and neat, getting everything I needed from the store, and the list grew and grew. I needed to be reminded that the evening is about getting to know new friends and having fun – not about how clean my floors are and how perfect the fruit salad is! Thanks so much for the reminder!

  9. My husband and I were just thinking of hosting a bunch of international students for Easter dinner. I’m a little nervous since I’ve never made “Easter dinner” before even just for our family. Thanks for your encouragement!

  10. Great post!

    It blows my mind how our relationships get lost in the shuffle of day to day life. When my wife and I were growing up, our families had really strong Easter traditions. We would get together with grandparents and cousins, uncles and aunts.

    It just doesn’t happen anymore. In my wife’s family, there was a late in life divorce that threw everything off. In my family, people are just too busy it seems, and expectations are too high for family get togethers. It’s like they have to be picture perfect rather than real. While it used to be so simple, it seems everyone tries to impress. Our current generations just aren’t very good at forming and maintaining relationships.

    Additionally, what is the deal with spring breaks being scheduled to lead up to Easter? Has anyone else been irritated with that? How do you destroy an inconvenient tradition?…..Put it at a time when everyone is traveling around.

    • Busy. Expectations. Picture-perfect. Yup, they are joy-stealers, aren’t they? It takes effort to bring people together. We change it up. One year with family, the next with friends. We have so many wonderful friends that it’s fun for the kids to be with their friends on holidays, too. As far as spring break and the Easter schedule, I agree, it’s never consistent. Thanks for sharing, Chase!

  11. We need to let go of expectations, if at all possible, and be in the moment with our guests. I try to make sure whatever meal I’m serving doesn’t call for a lot of last minute prep, as I’m single and don’t want to be hidden in the kitchen away from my guests.

    This Easter I’m going to friends – who, although they are a young couple with limited funds and three kids under the age of four – who are already making a name for themselves as extremely hospitable. I’ve already told the hostess I expect to be asked to bring something subtantial to help out, and will help out financially if they need it, as it will be a fairly full house.

  12. This will be my third time hosting Easter dinner. It gets a little easier and a little less intimidating each time, but it’s still a big undertaking.

    Like you, I’m delegating — my SIL will be bringing dessert. I’ll be repeating a couple of recipes we love — grilled lamb and sweet corn pudding — and that I’m comfortable making. I’ll be adding one, maybe two new recipes just to change things up a bit.

    The thing that always stumps me is centerpieces. I always end up doing a quick run around the block about an hour before the guests arrive to find some fresh blooms (some stealthily ‘borrowed’ from my neighbor’s yard). Any suggestions for some elegant centerpieces I can make ahead of time?

  13. Thank you for this post. It really spoke to me. My mom is not much of a cook & neither am I, but growing up, we always celebrated birthdays & holidays with family. I carry on this tradition with my own family, both immediate & extended along with some friends & neighbors. My kids always ask if we’re hosting a holiday celebration because they love these traditions. And that is exactly why I do it! I’m having a house full of people for Passover in less than 2 weeks & just like you, I plan to prepare ahead of time so as not to make my family miserable with my anxiety. The food won’t be perfect & my small house will be crowded but everyone will have a good time because we will all be together & these are the memories we make together as a family.

  14. Hmmm…I think my post got eaten so here’s my second go! Hope it’s not a duplicate!

    I’ll be hosting Easter dinner for my third time. Every year gets a little easier and a little less intimidating, though it’s still a big undertaking. I’ll be delegating — my SIL will be taking car of dessert. I’ll be a making a few repeat recipes — grilled lamb and sweet corn pudding — that I’m comfortable making. And I’ll be trying a new dish or two just to change things up a bit.

    I always find myself running around my block about an hour before guests trying to find something for centerpieces — usually fresh blooms that I’ve stealthily ‘borrowed’ from neighbors. Any ideas for something quick, cheap, and elegant to decorate my table?

    • Hi, Ann! Sounds like you have a great plan in place. I’m thinking about my table and instead of tulips with pink/red this year, I think I’m going to go with a yellow theme with daffodils and simple candles. My secret is to set the table 1-2 days in advance. Not only does it bring inspiration, it’s one thing to check off your list. It also gets the family excited that “Easter is coming!”

  15. avatar
    Emily @ Random Recycling says:

    We are hosting our first Easter, including having houseguests. I love entertaining and I like the reminder that it doesn’t have to be perfect. We will have one gluten-free eating guest so I just need to be mindful of that as I plan my Easter dinner.

  16. nope, i have a baby girl coming soon, but what an inspiring post!

  17. We’re going to my inlaws for Easter dinner! But I found this post inspiring as I want to have people but cringe inside before actually doing it. We live in a basement suite and I feel like it’s ‘too small’ sometimes and it’s the space I want to host people in but I’m learning to let that go and just invite people anyways.
    We tend to relax once they’re here and wonder why we don’t do this more? =)

  18. I’ve been catching up on Simple Mom podcasts just this past week, and the number one message that I’ve been getting has been this one of letting go of unreasonable ideas of perfection. It is such a freeing message, and I wanted to thank you (as a blog team!) for it.

    • Thanks, Becca. We all want things to be “nice” and “beautiful” but you are right about letting “unreasonable” expectations go … and focusing on what really matters. For me it’s the people coming into my home, and how I can make them feel warm and welcome. Happy Easter!

  19. We just confirmed with all of my husband’s extended family that we’re hosting Easter. Gulp. It’ll be something like 30 people, and I’m not entirely sure where to begin with the planning.

    We asked to host in large part because we moved last year and almost immediately afterwards had our second child. Figure that if we’ve ever got an excuse for the house being very un-put-together, this will be it!

    • Hi, Sheila. Well … it sounds like you already have the guest list and the date is set. Now start planning your menu … write it out and delegate! Think about how you will serve the food (either sit down or buffet). Don’t forget to ask others for help, borrow entertaining items if you find you need something. Writing out what I’m doing has always helped me stay on track. I hope your Easter Day turns out beautifully! :)

  20. “I’m also giving myself a pep talk so that I will not overcomplicate the day”

    oh Sandy, I am so guilty of this!! I am hosting Easter lunch. It\’s parents, my grandparents, siblings and their families and my inlaws. we are FAMILY. there is no judgement. there are no expectations other than a good meal and being together. I need to remember its about the time spent together and not about everything being perfect. I too was blessed to grow up in a home that was always hustling and bustling with people over. It has always been such a no-brainer for me to entertain. But somewhere along the way, I’ve succumbed to some sort of imagery of perfection that really just isn’t me!!!

    This post has inspired me to get my notebook out, count the heads and plan for the food. The rest will all fall into place. All we really need is some good food and wine and my family is happy :)

    • Aggie, I wish I were a fly on the wall in your home. You have the right attitude about our focus being the people. We all fall into the lies of perfectionism (is it the media? TV shows? magazines? blogs?) and what we think things should “look like.” Ugh. We have to fight it! Thanks for the inspiration.

  21. I love having people over, and I always think of myself as a host with a PhD. And yet I found this post super helpful!!!

  22. After hosting all the major family events for the past 3 or 4 years, we’ve decided to take a break this Easter and spend the weekend alone working in the garden. We’ve just moved into a new home and need to get the vegetable garden dug out before planting season. I’m really excited about spending 4 longs days in the garden with just my hubby. My daughter MAY come by, but there will be a shovel in her hand.

    • Heather, I love this. Four long days in the garden sounds heavenly. One thing I’ve learned about entertaining is to not get in a rut, even when it comes to holidays and traditions. It’s okay to change things up a bit and create new memories! Thanks for sharing :)

  23. Thank you for this insightful post. I often shy away from hosting here because our house is so small. But the thing is, I wouldn’t even think about that if it were someone else’s house! Thanks for the nudge to reach out.

  24. We’re not hosting for Easter, but I find that when I do host events, it’s so much easier when it’s not fancy. I mean seriously, it’s just my siblings and mom. They’re the *last* people I should even be trying to impress. So now the fancy decorations are all gone in lieu of paper plates and ordered in food.

    Sometimes though people get a kick out of doing this. I know my sister did a great job on Thanksgiving when she decked out her house and it looked like it was torn from a magazine. But the fact that she liked doing it is reward itself. If you don’t enjoy it, if it gives you anxiety or worry, then you’re better off keeping it casual.

    • I agree, we all have to figure out what our “style” is and try to stick with it. Some people love to host 30 people, for others a simple “8″ is all we can handle. It’s not fun to be a stressed-out host! I’d love to see how your sis did it! :) Happy Easter!

  25. Great post. Of course cooking on a Sunday can be a lot of work and running around, but that doesn’t mean that our attitude needs to be uptight. Everyone helping and chatting and visiting is a lovely thing. Always inspired by you, Sandi.

  26. I love this!

    I also hosted our family’s Easter dinner, and used the very same “I will not overcomplicate this” mantra to keep my expectations in line.

    So fun to know I’m on the right track with others… you’ve inspired me to co-host a dinner party!

  27. I was fortunate because while I was growing up, my mother taught me a lot about entertaining—but I realize that many people didn’t have this sort of role model.

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