hosting imperfectly

i have a friend who is an amazing hostess.  she welcomes anyone in her home at any time.  she’s able to do this, not only because this is one of her spiritual gifts, but also because she is prepared.  she always has items on hand in her pantry to throw together a meal for 2 or twenty.

while cooking is not my specialty, i have found a couple things that help me be able to open my home with relative ease for large groups.  and i’ll order pizza if i have to ;)

we’ve been a part of a growth group at our church for a few years and this session we’re meeting once a week at our house.  while this seems like it could be a daunting task (20+ people in my house each week!), i found today as i was getting ready that its really not too hard.  you just have to be willing to let go of perfection!  and having a few key elements on hand helps, too.

over my 12ish married years, i’ve slowly gathered items that help for hosting gatherings (casual dinner, birthday parties, showers).

i have this cabinet in my dining room where i store my mason jars.

mason jars have so many uses, but we use them mostly for drinking out of.  they are cheap and pretty sturdy, and you can get them at garage sales, drug stores, even grocery stores.


for our large growth group, we always eat dinner together first.  i try to keep it pretty simple – nothing fancy.

for our wedding we registered for these heavy duty plates from pottery barn.  turns out, all of my siblings and i registered for the same exact plates!  when my brother and his family moved from our town to maui a couple years ago, we got their set of plates.

after throwing lots of wedding and baby showers our first couple years of marriage, i finally decided to get some inexpensive flatware.  i got them at walmart and target for just a few dollars for a set of 8 or 12.  i always have about 30 extra forks on hand.

these tiny mason jars are what we use everyday for our kids, and work great for group settings too.

for larger gatherings, i picked up the smaller plates at a garage sale and the dinner plates at ikea for about $1 each.

so now that i’m all ready for dinner (we do dinner potluck style, so i only had to provide a side dish), its time to clean the house.

this is the area that i have given up on, perfection-wise.  well, i’ve never been a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning my house, but i have been known to spend a few hours cleaning the house when i know friends are coming over.

instead, i just covered the basics:  wiped down counters and tables, cleaned potties and sinks, and picked up piles.  i didn’t even bother to clean the floors since they were not only going to be covered with people, but covered with more dirt once the kids are running in and out of the house.

and see my white couches?  where the slipcovers aren’t even zipped since they broke in the back.  and you know what?  no one cares!

and i didn’t even bother to clean the dirty cushions since i knew piles of dirty feet would be on them.  (btw, white couches are awesome since i can just remove the covers and bleach them!)

and here’s the kids portion of our night.  piles of kids and no worries!

 so next time you have an opportunity to serve your friends by hosting a gathering, ignore perfection, cover the basics, and spend your time with your friends rather than worrying about keeping the house looking nice!


  1. 1

    One of the best pieces of advice I think I’ve gotten is, when you’re buying or registering for dishes, register for plain white ones. That way, if you need more, you can always mix and match and it still looks elegant because everything is white. No need to match colors or coordinate anything!

  2. 2

    How Brilliant! I love entertaining and always have stuff on hand to toss together for instant, homemade yummy food via canning, the freezer, and backyard garden. I love having people in my house and rarely make it about what the house truly looks like and more about the people who are IN the house. It’s a GREAT stress relief. Although the potty, the kitchen sink, all mirrors, and tables MUST be dust free and clean because people want to see themselves and clean surfaces to set their drinks/food upon. Those factors have helped a LOT in prepping, too.

    It’s time to host some friends, now! Thanks!

  3. 3

    I agree! A house isn’t perfect, it’s lived in! It’s more important to relax and enjoy your company! Amazed at you collection of mason jars! Wish I had them!

  4. 4

    great post! we open our home twice a week for various church groups. people think i’m crazy… but i love to do it. once you have a set routine its pretty easy to handle. and then to sit back and see what your home is able to provide for other’s, is amazing and makes the little work and sacrifice all worth it. my two biggest tricks that we’ve changed in our home over the many years of hosting large groups is a leather couch and polished concrete floors. Two things that are pretty much indestructible. =)

  5. 5

    Thank you so much for this post Lindsey! I love what you said, ” you know what? People don’t care” it’s really all about being together in one place that makes for a wonderful time! We get so caught up sometimes….and what for? I don’t scrutinize people’s homes…I just want to eat and be with wonderful people and enjoy conversation! Thanks again!

  6. 6

    Love this! Love it times a million!!!

  7. 7
    Cindy Schneider says:

    Thanks for this post. Great advice, but so, so hard for me! I always seem to think my house has to be spotless, perfectly set and decorated to have people in…and because of this, I have missed out on so many wonderful opportunities to enjoy the company and fellowship of our friends. I am going to try extra hard (especially this holiday season) to host and host and host…and NOT WORRY so much about how clean the house is or how it does or doesn’t look!!! Thank you Lindsey!

  8. 8

    what a fun, brilliant post! i love it…especially the part about turning down the perfection on cleaning…i don’t like anyone to see my place unless it’s spotless and i end up having less company because of it!

  9. 9

    LOVE the idea of having a collection of utensils and dinnerware! Looks like you’re ready for a party anytime!

  10. 10

    this is something i need to learn and relearn-i am such a control freak and perfectionist. this is such good advice. rationally i know clean floors aren’t important but i have to convince myself every time!
    thanks for this post!

  11. 11

    What a great reminder! I always get so caught up in cleaning before company that I’m exhausted by the time they arrive. I definitely needed this reminder. It’s okay to shut the door to a few rooms and mop the floors after the party.

  12. 12

    such great advice and a reminder that i definitely need. so many times i pay too much attention to things that just aren’t that important. thanks!

  13. 13

    What a fantastic post about no stress entertaining! I too have an off white couch (20 yrs old now!) and, with three kids, it has seen it’s share of “turmoil”. I had slip covers on it for a while but recently started using a fitted twin sheet over the bottom (sitting) cushions and I can change that out so easily and add a throw and colorful throw pillows. Like you said… nobody cares! We also went the white plate route when we got married 14 years ago and it’s easy to add on (I cannot believe that most are intact!) and we are ALL about the everyday Target flatware!

    Love your blog and I am so glad I found it!
    ~ Claire /

  14. 14

    you’ve said it so well.. we just have to let go of our idea of perfection.
    especially since it’s exhausting trying to reach it day in and day out.
    wonderful post and i loved that you included pictures :)

  15. 15

    Great post. One of my goals for this year was to entertain more. I am not a natural at it!

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