Hosting friends or family during these long winter months is a great way to lift your spirits and stay connected.
But before you start making excuses for how much work that sounds like, hear me out.
You don’t have to have the Pinterest perfect house or decorations or food or anything. You don’t have to have a spotless house. You don’t even have to cook if you don’t want to!
Enjoying time with others is about making connections and deepening relationships. It is not about comparing the number of dust bunnies in the corner or stains in the carpet.
Homes are meant to be lived in and share life experiences.
So set aside your lofty goals for a spotless house before any guest steps foot inside. Be open to the opportunity to share your home rather than just show it.
Hosting on a Budget
Are finances a bit tight right now? That doesn’t mean you can’t entertain!
A budget friendly snack is popcorn. Popcorn is a classic any way you prepare it. If you don’t already have a popper you can look around and thrift stores for one. Or you can just make it on the stove with some coconut oil or chicken fat. Here is a great YouTube tutorial for making stovetop popcorn. If either of these methods sound too daunting, there is always microwave popcorn.
Read More: Healthy Homemade Caramel Popcorn
As kids, we loved grape juice with our popcorn. Try serving your favorite juice along with popcorn as an inexpensive alternative to water.
Eggs are also an affordable, nourishing food. Check out some of my ideas for serving eggs as snacks!
Read More: How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
If you would like to offer more than water to your guests, coffee, tea and hot cocoa are very inviting.
When your budget has no wiggle room for any snacks, just call it a game night with no mention of food. This way there won’t be any expectations. You can offer them tea or coffee and call it good!
Read More: The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate
Snacks is a great way to bring friends together without feeling pressured to cook.
A simple meat and cheese tray and a veggie tray are classics. If you don’t have time to prepare them, order them through the deli.
Fruit is another great option! Although it can get pricey in the off-season.
You could also set up a sundae bar. I like to make my own ice cream and toppings for this since they can all be made ahead of time. If you don’t have time, just buy the ice cream and toppings on your next trip to town.
Nothing has to be elaborate. Just welcoming!
Read More: Healthy Homemade Ice Cream Recipe
Hosting a Semi-Formal Meal
Hosting this type of meal is my favorite. I can provide a hot meal for friends, but I feel less pressure to “have it all together.” I usually make one dish with a few simple sides for a meal like this.
Chili bar, taco bar or burgers are a few examples of what to serve.
Chili happens to be my favorite. So all I have to do is make one big pot of chili. The sides are easy and quick: shredded cheese and sour cream. If you are feeling ambitious you can even chop up an onion. Put out a bag of crackers or corn chips and you are good to go!
(Just be sure to send your guests home before the winds break loose!)
Leave all the food on your counter and have the guests file through and fill their own plates. Sitting can be informal around a table or in other rooms where you allow food.
Use paper products. No one is expecting anything formal. This will greatly lighten your clean-up load!
Hosting a Formal Meal (or a sit-down meal)
For those of you who love laying out a feast for your guests or would like to try for the first time – go for it!
Remember, the crock pot or Instant Pot is your best friend. There are tons of recipes out there for mouth watering main dishes and even desserts all made in a crock pot. Check out Stacy Myers’ cook books Crock On and Keep Crockin’ for some great ideas!
The key to pulling off a successful formal dinner is planning ahead. Simple things that catch me off-guard are:
- running out of clean spoons when it’s time for dessert.
- not having soft butter in the butter dish.
- not knowing where my extra long table cloth is.
- dusty folding chairs that have to be brought in from the garage.
- not having fresh/enough ice cubes.
All to say that little things like this I could have easily prepared ahead of time, but ended up causing a little hiccup at the last minute.
Make lists. Ask others for help. Enjoy a relaxed, shared meal!
It’s About Connecting
I hope this gives you a few ideas for getting back to real relationships. By opening up your home you can be a blessing to others and experience real-time connections.
Face-to-face interactions have suffered due to all the social media outlets. Let’s step beyond Facebook and keep our real friendships alive!