I co-host a podcast called Sorta Awesome. The host/creator/mama of Sorta Awesome is Megan Tietz and I am one of three other rotating co-hosts. It's a new venture and very fun. If you're new to podcast listening, click here.
Last week's episode of Sorta Awesome set a record for our new little podcast, with thousands of downloads in the first 48 hours of the show going live. I guess hospitality and entertaining is something y'all are interested in! Good to know, because it's something I like to talk about.
The Sorta Awesome hangout group on Facebook has become a great community of nearly 500 women who use topics for the show as springboards for conversation. There are some really interesting threads in the group, and I can see friendships sprouting all over the place. The listeners have branched off on their own and started Sorta Awesome voxer group chats and a reading discussion group on Goodreads. Several people from the hangout group asked specific questions about the hospitality episode, and thought I would answer them here.
On the episode, I give my 5 most important tips for hosting, and these apply to everything from casual gatherings to the most formal of parties. We also talked about hostessing influences and entertaining disasters I've survived over the years. So we cover lots of territory on the podcast, but it seems like most of the questions have more to do with logistics. And to that I say it's all about the attitude:
What do you do with the kids while hosting? I have always loved having people in my home, but now with two littles, it's a real challenge.
I totally get this. My children are 5 & 3, so it's not like I can send them upstairs to fend for themselves during a party. (I mean, I guess I could. But it wouldn't end well.) I've tried all kinds of different things for the kiddos, it really depends on the type of party.
For more formal parties, I get a babysitter. For girls-only gatherings, my husband is on duty, expecting absolutely zero help from me. (If it's a daytime event, like book club, he'll take them to the park or something. I'm most relaxed about it when they're not even in the house, because you know how it is as a mom. If I hear a crash upstairs or something, I'm just distracted.) For casual get-togethers, it's just sort of all hands on deck. It's a bonus if the guests have kids of their own, then we can turn on a movie or something. At the lake we've definitely employed the older kids (older tweens or teenagers) to keep them all corralled and safe. Then we'll throw them a little cash or a treat as an incentive.
I loved this idea from Melissa in the hangout group:
My kids are ecstatic when we are entertaining, because they know there will be other kids to play with. Like, see ya later mom, we are with our friends. There is usually such a variety of ages that the little ones are doted upon. My youngest is 4 and the older 2 are 8 and 10. They know that will be a shared responsibility for all of us to watch out for little guy. I actually saw an awesome idea that was meant for pool-time but works anytime. We have a plastic bracelet that we pass (anything could be used) and whoever is wearing it just needs to keep an eye on the 4 year old.
The kids thing can be a definite challenge, but don't let it be a barrier. Do what you can handle, and know that your entertaining days will look different in this season than in the next.
Question in regards to entertaining as an introvert. I also enjoy entertaining/being a hostess - I am the workhorse, but when the event is over I am physically and mentally drained. Does this happen to you?
I am answering this question in my pajamas at 10:30am and just told my husband that my plan for the day was not to get out of them. So, YES, I become very drained after hosting, to put it mildly.
As an introvert, it always takes me a couple of days to recover from hosting a party or houseguests. Not just from the actual event (where even being a guest would drain me), but also from the work of it. But since I know that in advance, I just build it in. Our family doesn't plan anything strenuous in the day or two after hosting. If the gathering is casual, I just make every effort to be aware of my energy and plan around it. Meaning maybe we have friends over to swim and eat on Saturday, but then Sunday we purposefully don't do anything.
The bottom line is that you have to take care of yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you. My husband doesn't fully understand my need for tons of space after entertaining, but he respects it and accommodates me. I learned pretty quickly that *I* have to be the one to set the boundary. And hosting friends and celebrating occasions is always worth it to me.
Then why host so much if it exhausts you? On the topic of self-care, this is the question I find myself asking when an opportunity comes to host. Why should I do this if I'm exhausted for 2 days after! Yes it is fun...but 2 days to recover! I guess it's like coming home from a vacation. Sometimes need a vacation from your vacation.
(I always need a vacation after the vacation.)
The pros outweigh the cons for me. I like your example of family vacation: there's a lot of cost involved, including your energy and time off from work, not to mention any financial sacrifice. But it's usually worth it, right? The memories, the experience, even the accomplishment of it. The Gorilla and I were high-fiving all day yesterday that we'd survived (even thrived!) with 3 weeks of houseguests.
This isn't true for all introverts, and it's important to note that people shouldn't push themselves towards entertaining if they don't want to. I do it because I LIKE it.
Okay, because we're already there, I'll go ahead and give away the first tip of my 5 Tips for Hosting:
Just Do It.
If you're inclined. If the thought excites you. If no one else in your friend group is willing to step up. Just throw a party! I think you'll be glad you did.