I love to entertain. There’s just something so special to me about having people I love in my home. The sound of kids playing, friends laughing, stories being shared, lives mixing together, is a recipe for perfection. I love it when friends and family stay late into the evening lost in conversation, while the babies sleep and the older kids mix all of their imaginations and energy into a shared bucket that they each keep drinking from like a well that never runs dry. Bedtime is a relative term and there’s always someone getting seconds of desert.
My home. Table and chairs by Raelee Lane.
And when everyone finally leaves, my house feels brighter and fuller and bigger, like a hot air balloon filled to bursting with warmth and sunshine.
I think that God wired me this way. Something in me is fulfilled by hosting. Mostly because I like to be around people. I like to talk to them and listen to them. I like to fill their stomachs with food, their minds with stories and their hearts with love.
Mostly I like the part where we spend time together. I like it a lot. I think this is where life happens and souls connect.
There’s a story that talks about this in Luke 10: 38-42. Here we find Mary and Martha, sisters, hosting Jesus for dinner. In this story, we see a tale of two hosts. The first, Martha, is bustling about the house “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Mary, our second sister, “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”
Anyone that grew up in church will be able to tell you that Mary was the one who was praised by Jesus for choosing the better option; spending time with Him, her guest. It’s obvious to us, that Martha should have seen this. She should have known that Jesus would want to spend time with her, that nothing as trivial as cooking or cleaning should have stolen her attention from him. She wanted to make things so perfect that she missed the perfection of the moment. She missed out on time with Jesus and time with others because she was caught up in preparation.
I feel a kinship with Martha. I think most of us can.
We invite people into our homes, into our lives, and then work so hard to make everything perfect.
We strive to make our homes look like our Pinterest boards and the food on our table taste like five star cuisine when really, what matters most is the connection that is happening. The time that we take to sit and listen to each other.
When I look back on the times that I’ve had loved ones in my home, I remember the conversation and the connection more than the menu. I’m sure they would say the same thing. So, I’ve tried to simplify. I try to make the evening as easy as possible while still being beautiful. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve found that make hosting more about the time you get to spend with friends and less about the work that straps you to your kitchen for the evening.
- Use a crockpot. If an appliance could be my friend, the Crock Pot would be. We’re kindred spirits, she and I. These are magical because you just dump the ingredients in and turn it on hours before your guests arrive and then just open the lid to yummy goodness when they get there. People will oo and aah at the flavors. You’ll receive compliment after compliment. They’ll think you spent hours on something but really, your good friend Crocky did while you went about your day. Stay tuned till the end of this post for one of my favorite Crock Pot recipes; Chile!
- Opt for Buffet Style Serving. Here in Colorado, we’re not very formal people. We wear jeans just about everywhere, and flip flops are acceptable foot wear at all times. I’m used to giving formalities the (cowboy) boot. That includes formal place settings. Set out the plates, utensils, napkins, and food and let people have at it. This leaves you free to talk instead of dishing up food and lets your guests fill their plates as full as they want with whatever they want. Buffet style lends itself to comfortable, come as you are, be yourself attitudes.
- Feel free to Stack. Let the dishes stack up in the sink and clean them later! No one will fault you for sitting and talking instead of standing and rinsing. If you must do them though, accept help from your guests if they offer and continue your conversation while you scrub.
These are all simple things. They’re small adjustments that will hopefully make your evening run smoother, leaving you free to simply build relationships. Give yourself permission to entertain simply, and enjoy deeply.
1 lb ground beef, browned
1 cup chopped onion
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 tsp pepper
3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.