Holiday entertaining can be a joy or a dreaded hassle. Whether you consider entertaining fun or traumatic depends much upon your background and experiences. Guests play an important role in the fun of a party. The host provides the venue, but guests are the lifeblood of the gathering. Toxic guests can ruin a party for everybody, including the host or hostess.
Entertaining used to be fun until I came into contact with a hypercritical social circle. A Martha Stewart wannabe raised the bar. We each had all the crystal, china and flatware needed for an elaborate dinner table, given as wedding presents. I love setting a table with my beautiful crystal, but having people criticize your every decision can take the pleasure out of entertaining.
In the meantime, ‘Martha’ became an expert at entertaining, hosting dinners every weekend. She soon left me in the dust with her hostess skills. It was not a competition that I ever wanted to enter, and I soon dropped out. The problem was that she could not manage to appreciate the efforts I did make, even sniping with catty remarks to make sure that everybody knew how superior she was to me. Soon the idea of having to host a party with this group became a stress rather than a pleasure.
We probably all have people in our lives that we feel obligated to invite over to keep peace, but should we?
It was great interest that I read an article on the Oprah Winfrey website . The author gives some practical advice about taking the stress out of holiday entertaining.
Meeting in a neutral territory, such as a coffee shop or restaurant is a safe feeling way to enjoy companionship. Inviting people into our home is like an invasion, where they get to inspect our inner lairs and make judgements about us. Holiday entertainment, unfortunately, may involve inviting people into your space that you would just as soon keep out.
Inviting people into your home makes you vulnerable to the threat of what might feel like a physical and emotional invasion. If this is how you feel about offering hospitality, some decisions should be made about people in your life who are harshly critical. It is not just the critical who pose a danger though, Guests have the potential to injure themselves in your home, break your valuables, steal your treasures or behave irresponsibly and insult your other guests.
Before you offer hospitality take steps in insulate yourself from guests who might insult you, hurt your feelings and damage your home.
1. Realize that people are more interested in themselves than they are in you or your home. Be proactive in offering them praise in front of others to create good feelings. This might counteract any potential sniping attacks.
2. Decorate your home is a manner that you enjoy more than to please others. Rather than setting out the best of everything, display items that are less valuable but fun.
3. Prepare your favorite dinner, rather than trying to reach unreasonable standards of perfection that make you feel uncomfortable and stressed. Simplify the meal. Do you really need two hours worth of appetizers and 12 side dishes? Instead concentrate on a few high quality, well prepared dishes that you are proud of and can enjoy serving.
4. Lock the valuables away. Before putting out the holiday decorations, do a thoughtful assessment of decorations currently adorning your home. If it would upset to have them broken or stolen put them out of sight. Display less precious, but festive, decorations. Guests will never know the difference and you will feel less vulnerable.
5. Relax and have fun. Realize that you will never please everybody but at least please yourself. Enjoy yourself while entertaining.
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