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Keeping the joy in entertaining

Keep entertaining simple. There are so many ways to host a holiday party, like an appetizer or dessert party, a potluck, an open house, a sing-a-long party with hot chocolate, caroling with chili, cornbread and cider, or even a simple sit-down dinner (remember you can buy pre-made food from local restaurants or markets – bring the food home and display it in your own dishes).

But how do you entertain if you aren’t feeling joyful?

Joy really comes from doing for others. It’s the simple things that really count in life that make your heart happy, happy, happy —- like giving, listening, cooking, connecting. For me, it’s about inviting friends and family in to our home. Acts of love can really make you happy, which can increase or spark that joy in your life.

Here’s the cool thing. It happens even when you don’t feel like inviting others in. (In fact, some won’t get the idea to invite others in at all, because they aren’t feeling joyful.)

Here’s how to make joy relevant in your life while entertaining this holiday season:

J – Jams: Even if you don’t have a dime to decorate your home for the holidays, there’s always time to listen to the “jams” of Christmas music. Having Christmas music playing when guests arrive sets the tone the minute they arrive, to the end of the party when they leave.

Here are ideas for free music: Spotify, Pandora, your own playlists. Or, keeping it simple, how about pulling out some of your older favorite CDs? Christmas music never goes out of style – no matter what era it came from.

O – Others: Worrying about how everything is supposed to look, or be, or taste, or trying to impress others will steal your joy. Think of others first, what they are bringing to the table (more than food) by their personalities, their stories, even their struggles.

Getting together is all about connection and getting to know each other in a more intimate way. We need each other, especially during the holidays when it can be lonely and depressing for many.

Y – Yourself: You have to think of yourself. Plan ahead with a simple party outfit, shoes, necklace, even red lipstick. Getting yourself ready for the guests, and feeling good about yourself, means you care about the party that is about to take place.

You’ve spent time preparing and making sure your guests will be fed and comfortable and happy, so adding a little bit of sparkle and cheer to your appearance sets the tone as you meet the guests at the front door, with a big holiday hug and smile!

There you have it. Think of a simple party to host, make the invite, and keep things simple so your joy isn’t wrecked. Don’t forget the music, others, and getting yourself ready.

You’re now set to host a beautiful, joyful holiday party!

What stops you from opening your home during the holidays?

Reading Time:

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  1. Sue

    It is going to sound silly, but mostly it is my carpeting. It is pretty dirty (a bit rough when we moved in, but we had a dog and an infant with some major regurgitation issues, so I didn’t ask for it to be replaced) and it just makes me feel awful. But, I think I’m going to give myself an early Christmas present tomorrow and get a nice, clean and comfortable large area rug to cover it up! I also feel like my house is small and gets crowded quickly. And I find myself suffering from not being able to get to the “O” in your post. I am constantly worried about how everything looks, if people are judging me, if I should be embarrassed, etc. Sigh…it is exhausting to be like that. And sad! I am having a few people over tomorrow night and I’m going to embrace your JOY principles! 🙂

    • Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer

      Write us back, Sue, and let us know how your entertaining goes tomorrow night! I had really bad carpet for years … so I understand where you’re coming from. I bet no one will even notice! 🙂

  2. Katie Harding

    Love this list. I think we all tend to take things a little too seriously around the holidays! Thanks for the reminder to lighten up.

  3. Breanne

    Excellent list! So often I want it all to be just perfect and end up not hosting or hosting with stress which is never a good idea. One of my goals for this next year (and this holiday season) is to host more and with grace.
    My go-to has always been to light all.the.candles. it gives a peaceful glow and fills the space with light.

    And, totally unrelated to your post, but I love the new comment button below the posts. It is so much easier to comment rather then scrolling all the way back to the top. And I like the author’s bio on the side.

  4. Betsy

    Oh I’m so glad to read this right now! I just got home from Christmas shopping and was having a hard time getting motivated to do a few things to get ready for a Christmas Breakfast I’m hosting tomorrow morning. This puts me in the right spirit and reminds me of why I invited my friends in the first place!

  5. Jada

    Great post! I think the word “entertaining” often scares people. I know it did me. So, I now think showing “hospitality”. Takes the pressure off. They’re similar words, but yet so different. And I totally agree with you to keep it simple.

    • Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer

      Hi, Jada! I agree entertaining can be intimidating, but there’s a beautiful balance when you combine it with hospitality. Some of our best dinner parties were filled with soulful hospitality, which is a great way to look at entertaining. 🙂

  6. Patti Boyd

    Great article! No matter how ‘strapped’ my family is during the Holidays, we can always scrape up a bit for a nice meal by candlelight with some soft Christmas tunes playing in the background. It is not the size of my budget, however, that prevents entertaining during the colder months when going outside to the generous backyard isn’t an option. Regardless of how much I really LOVE entertaining, a 740 sq. ft., 2 bedroom cottage shared by a family of four, is very limiting. We can entertain a couple fairly easily, but too many more than that it becomes cramped and uncomfortable. We have beautiful, although minimal furnishings and gorgeous wood floors, but I still have to remind myself to not be embarrassed about the size of our home and focus, instead, on providing a cozy atmosphere, a delicious meal, and my undivided attention to those I have chosen to welcome into my home.

    • Sandy @ ReluctantEntertainer

      Patti, our first house was about 900 sq. feet so I remember the cozy feeling. We’d put the kids in the master bedroom to watch a movie, and the adults would mingle around the square table (for 4). Fun times! You have a great attitude – it’s all about choice! 🙂

  7. Nina

    The most difficult thing with hosting is preparing food, so I have a rule that if there are more people than can fit in my dining table (8 seats), then I order in food. And even if there are 8 or less, I will only really prepare one big meal and assemble or buy everything else. For instance, I’ll make the main meal, and assemble a salad, and buy ice cream.

  8. Martha

    Great advice!
    We had fun growing the pet TickleMe Plant at our last family gathering.
    Imagine growing a pet like plant that moves and closes its leaves when you Tickle It
    It was a fun family experience and educational as well.
    TickleMe Plant

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