"Entertaining" is not my thing.
When I got married 18 years ago, I had no culinary skills. Zero. Zip. Zilch. My mom says I just never showed interest in such things. Fair enough.
We once invited a friend over for steaks. Apparently, I didn't know that the Piggly Wiggly made marinades in little packages for .75. So, I marinaded those steaks in Pancake Syrup. Creative? Maybe. Tasty? Impressive? Nope. Not even to poor, college students.
Gingerbread House Party Dinner Party for Friends Cookie Decorating Party with Eli's friends Movie Party for Teens Pinterest Party Free Trade Party
When you come over to share lunch with me, I know that you do not do so because my kitchen skills are so unbelievable (all though you might describe them as such). I ASSUME you come because you value spending time with me -- just as my invite is my expression of how much I value you.
I won't be serving Fennel-Crusted Lamb on Toast or Queso Fundido with Chorizo. Actually, I quite regularly offer my friends Egg Salad Sandwiches. Chicken Salad if I'm trying to be fancy. And you know what? My friends sit down with their simple fare on paper plates just as happy as if it were Crab Salad with Avocado and Tostones. At least, I think they do! And, on the right day, with the right person, and the right conversation -- an Egg Salad Sandwich can be quite extraordinary. Encouragement. Refreshment. A life touched.
Christmas always brings out my celebratory side. The decorations, the music, the food, -- all communicate that something special is happening. I feel especially drawn to encouraging others this time of year. Not just friends, but my family too.
Of course, my family, like most is MORE busy than usual this time of year. Billy coaches basketball MOST nights of the week/weekend...right through Christmas. Schools schedule parties and concerts. My business is growing and my highschoolers are studying for finals and making college visits. Church, shopping, wrapping, mailing, etc, etc, etc. So...I never get to all that I'd like to do. INFACT, I find myself simplifying more and more each year. Presence of mind and a peaceful heart are great gifts to give myself, my husband and my children, yes?
This year in particular, time and financial restraints have forced me to settle on 2 events. My brainstorming list looked something like this...
Hosanna's 16th Birthday Party
Christmas Caroling Party for my music students and their families
So, here's my FREE tip for the day. Consider it your Christmas gift from me. Really, it's one of my best. Here it goes. DURING THIS BUSY SEASON, WHEN YOU HAVE EVENTS TO HOST, PLAN THEM BACK TO BACK. I know. I know. At first read, you think I'm crazy.
We have planned Hosanna's Birthday Party for Friday night, The Christmas Caroling Party for my students for Saturday night. Here is the BIGGEST PRO:
I WILL ONLY CLEAN, COOK AND DECORATE THE HOUSE ONCE.
Ah ha moment. Now, you see my wisdom?
I will keep it simple. Hosanna's party, at her request, is Open House style with light "christmasy" snacks for 2 hours. Then, her best friends will stay later for a relaxed movie night. This allows our extended family, our beloved youth pastors and their kids, Hosanna's friends with jobs AND their families to come and go as it's best for them. It's insures I'll have plenty of space to accommodate people as they all won't be here at the same time (ideally). And, it gives her some extra, quite time for Hosanna with her bestest friends. Perfectly perfect.
My Caroling Party for our music students and their families will involve A LOT of people. Frankly, standing room only in the upper level of my house. I've announced that the price of admission is a plate of goodies. I've asked EVERYONE to help. When a mom recently said, "What about paper goods? Can I bring those?" My answer is "Yes". When another mom texted and said "I know I'm late with my RSVP, can I still come? I'll bring 2 plates of goodies!" My answer is "Yes". Even my neighbors, "Can we offer the carolers Hot Cocoa and Candy Canes"? Yes. Yes. And Yes. I will re-wash the table cloth, set out my Ooey Gooey Butter Cake that I will prepare the day before, straighten the pile of Christmas Carol Songbooks I made a few years ago, plan our route through my neighborhood (while it snows btw) and that will be that. The natural way of things will take it's course. People will visit. Catch up. Make new friends. Our vocal students will lead us in a "warm up" -- we'll savor some Christmas goodies -- and then donned in winter coats, hats and scarves we'll make our way out my front door in the snow and up the street to sing carols for the neighbors. We will end at the home of our neighborhoods newest members. They lost their previous home, everything including Christmas decorations, in the fires that ravaged parts of Colorado this summer. We will belt out a rousing rendition of "Frosty the Snowman", and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". We will enjoy the moment as we sing "Silent Night" under the stars and end with a heart felt "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". As we make our way back to our cars, I will know that we, I, have not done anything impressive. Our group will not have been THAT "entertaining". But, others will have felt joy, encouraged, refreshed, valued. A life touched.
Now, as YOUR Christmas gift to moi, how's about you leave a comment with YOUR best "entertaining" tip!
Merry Christmas Everyone!