Easy Entertaining

Please welcome my friend Kimba of A Soft Place to Land (I can really call her a friend now, since I hung out with her at Blissdom! She is as delightful in person as she is on her blog!)!  Enjoy her tips for Easy Entertaining!

Do you love to entertain in your home or does it make you crazy as you try to pull everything together for the perfect party? Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle like me. I love the idea of entertaining and I want to share my home with family and friends but sometimes I resist because it’s too much work or I don’t think I have the time.

There was a time when I used pull my hair out every time I tried to host something at my home. I felt like I had to have everything perfectly spotless and tidy. And I would make myself crazy by preparing complicated (and expensive) dishes.

I believe that there is tremendous value in building relationships by sharing our homes. So let me share a couple of tips and ideas that will make entertaining a little easier and more enjoyable.

Relax

Your guests aren’t coming to see your perfect home. They’re coming to see you. Pick up the big messes (and hide them in the dryer if you have to) and move on. Your guests will not care if your kids have their toys out or you have a bunch of craft supplies on the dining room table. If they even notice, they’ll probably feel a little better about their own messes. Think of it as a public service. Pick up the big messes and move on.

Commit Yourself

Not to the nut-house. To a time and a place. Pick a time that works for your family and make a commitment. Invite over those neighbors that you’ve been wanting to know better. Call those old friends who you don’t see often enough. Put it on your calendar so that you’re committed.

Be Spontaneous

Some of my favorite gatherings have been the ones thrown together on Friday afternoon for Friday night. Suddenly realize you have no plans for the evening? Call up some good friends for a movie night with popcorn and ice cream. Tell them to bring the kids in their jammies and throw a bunch of pillows on the floor.

Try Something Different

Here are a couple of ideas that I love for entertaining without losing your mind (or blowing your budget).

Dessert only – Who says that every event has to include a formal meal? Why not invite over a few neighbors for dessert and coffee (or wine if that’s your thing)? I won’t tell if your cheesecake comes from Costo. Or maybe set up an ice cream bar with a couple of syrups and lots of toppings. Everyone can help themselves and all you have to do is wash some bowls and spoons when it’s over.

Keep it simple – One of my favorite ways to entertain with a meal is to make a big salad, order pizza and have a fun dessert. Everyone loves it and it’s low (or no) stress for me. For dessert I’ll make a fantastic chocolate fondue with fruit, cookies and pretzels or we’ll light a fire and make s’mores. The kids all love it and no one even notices that I did very little work to get ready.

Let them help – Along those same lines, there’s nothing wrong with letting your guest help out from time-to-time. Around these parts, we call it pot-luck. The host provides a main dish and the guest bring the sides. During the summer, I love to have a hot-dog bar. I get the good hotdogs and buns and provide a table of traditional toppings along with chili (canned), cheese and sauerkraut. It’s easy and it doesn’t blow the budget.

There’s something that happens when you invite people into your home. You can’t help but get to know them a little better. Connections are made and relationships are formed.

What’s your favorite way to entertain?

All photos: Martha Stewart

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Comments

  1. I used to freak out right before parties to where my husband would dread me saying the word “party”. Now I don’t worry about things being perfect, but do make sure I plan plenty of time ahead so there is no rushing around. I like the idea of having some sort of make it yourself food bar. It gives guest something to do and chat about also.

    Great meeting you this weekend Melissa! You too Kimba!!

    Amy @ Living Locurtos inspiring blog post..I Heart Faces- Week 5

  2. I am crazy jealous! I’d love to meet both of you girls!

    These are great ideas from Kimba.

    PamperingBekis inspiring blog post..Everything looks different today.

  3. Great post! I like to have everything outdoors for easy clean up. (I’m in Florida so that’s OK most of the year.) Then I don’t feel the need to clean the house to perfection either. Thanks for the great tips!
    -Kim

    Kim @ Forever Wherevers inspiring blog post..Tasty Tuesday Blog Party Invite

  4. OH! I love the dessert only idea. SOOO practical. SOoo minimizing. Why in the world have I never thought of that??

    Darlene@WorthWalkingTowards inspiring blog post..for He has been good to me

  5. What great ideas…just what you would expect from Kimba!! I actually did the ice cream bar for a kid’s birthday party! It was tons of fun!

    Jennifers inspiring blog post..A New Way to Shop

  6. Holy goodness! That chocolate dessert is too much for this pregnant lady to handle. If only you could actually eat the things that show up on the laptop screen!

  7. With a large home we have lots of last minute guests on a regular basis. I try to have things in the freezer that I can whip together at the last minute- this weekend it was chicken and dumplings- simple and yet of so yummy! I love to pamper my guests but want them to feel relaxed and having me running around like a chicken with her head cut off does not say “relax”!!

    Little things- like my last blog about 6 bouquets of flowers from 1 $5
    wrapped Walmart flowers- mean so much and take little time

    blessings
    mary

    marys inspiring blog post..6 Different Bouquets from $5.00 Flowers

  8. Good morning, Melissa -
    Thanks for having Kimba stop by. I would love to have joined you this last weekend. I stopped by to see Rhoda this morning and her pictures and description made me think I missed something very special! Maybe next year.

    These are great ideas, Kimba, and something that I’m just learning in my just-past middle-age stage of life. I always tried to make it too difficult and tried to do fancy dishes and make my house always look like a magazine before I invited people in. Now I’m more inclined to do something simple and have them come to my home just for the enjoyment of the relationships we build. It has stopped mattering so much that our house is in a constant state of redo and remodel. My feeling is that if the house is clean and tidy people can understand the unfinished trim around the bathroom window and the lack of backsplash on the new kitchen counters. And won’t they be pleasantly surprised the next time they come by to see it finished? You really shared some great ideas. Thanks a lot – please come by again. In the meantime I’ll be checking in at your blog to see what you have to share.
    ~Adrienne~

    Adriennes inspiring blog post..Master, The Tempest Is Raging

  9. You have inspired me to have my altos over for a get-together. When Kiddo was just a baby, I had all of them over for a dessert and coffee night, but that was 9 years ago. In the chaos of life that has ensued, I’ve let my insecurities about my home prevent me from entertaining the way I’d like. I mean, I have Small Group over every other week, but that’s sort of like I have to do that. I need to just get over myself and invite all my peeps over. I think they’d enjoy it, and I know I would! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Heathahlees inspiring blog post..Weekend News

  10. WOW, THE DESERT ONLY IDEA IS ONE I’M GOING TO USE TO INVITE THE LADIES IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD TO LUNCH. EACH ONE CAN BRING A DESSERT OF CHOICE. I WILL SERVE COFFEE & TEA! THANKS FOR SIMPLIFYING IT FOR ME.

    HUGS FROM MAINE

    http://sophie4me.blogspot.com/

    Lisas inspiring blog post..Unpeeling The Layers

  11. I love entertaining! I do a lot of pot luck when inviting friends and family over for a get together, it’s just so much easier that way. I usually provide the main dish and have others bring sides and a dessert. Everybody’s happy!

    Joannas inspiring blog post..Understanding, Way Out of My Own Reach

  12. If anyone offers to bring something or help I never say no!

    My favorite go to meal when entertaining with little to no time for prep:
    Appetizer: Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip, celery sticks and broken up Lavosh (I buy the lavosh if I’ll have limited time)
    Salad: Large green salad with tomatoes, thin sliced red onions, black olives, parmesan cheese and italian dressing
    Main Course: Mix of Cheese and portabello stuffed tortellini (Buitoni’s refrigerated, takes just a few minutes in boiling water!), marinara sauce (I make mine, but you can buy a jar), crusty italian bread (sliced, buttered, sprinkled with italian seasoning and broiled until light brown 2-3 minutes at most)
    Dessert: French Vanilla Ice Cream with a drizzle of caramel and sprinkling of chopped pistachio, put a pretty pirouline cookie in as a “garnish”

    I can throw this meal together in about 15 minutes and it never disappoints… boiling the water for the tortellini takes the longest.

    Barbaras inspiring blog post..Good Things – Beautiful Books

  13. Yay Kimba! Her message sounds familar for sure! :) Couldn’t agree more …

    Miss you Melissa! Missed our laughs last night (and Nesters snore!) hee hee.

    Sandys inspiring blog post..Just Like Meredith!

  14. Since I couldn’t make it to Blissdom, I hosted a Girls’ Night Out at my house last Friday. I told everyone to bring their own snacks and drinks and come hang out on my couch. All I did was provide the space. We had so much fun and there was not even an iota of stress involved. Just good friends hanging out…rockin’ out to Guitar Hero, and munching on all of the yummy snacks! I think people really just want to connect. If there’s food involved that’s fine, but we really just want to feed our souls. Right?

    Deidras inspiring blog post..Happy Weekend, All!

  15. Sounds silly, but I love to order pizza, and splurge making a huge dessert buffet. The pizza is easy and I don’t have to spend so much slaving instead of mingling, and the dessert is fun… and everyone wants to move on to dessert anyway, right???

    Misti @ Studio M Designss inspiring blog post..Great Storage for Kid’s Rooms

  16. Oh I really like the just dessert idea…

    Hope that we’ll hear more about your trip at some point.

    Vees inspiring blog post..Valentine Idea from MGCC

  17. “Your guests aren’t coming to see your perfect home. They’re coming to see you. ”

    I must admit that I say this ALL.THE.TIME. My husband has been trained to have a higher tolerance for clutter and mess than he did when we got married. I figure my house isn’t dirty; it’s lived in. And if you’re coming to see me, you’ll have to look past the jackets tossed over the back of the sofa or the backpacks and work bags dropped on the floor near the front door and the bills piled all over the dining room table ’cause that’s where we pay them. I’ll pile ‘em up and make room for you to sit and stay a spell. And we’ll have a lovely time spending time together, but quite frankly, I’d rather spend that time with my guests than spend it making my house look like a museum!
    More power to Kimba’s ideas!!!

    Kryss inspiring blog post..Tag! You’re it!

  18. This is such a lost part of our culture anymore! I love these practical ideas!

  19. What great (and EASY) entertaining tips! Thanks for having Kimba by! :)

    Ashley @ Domestic Fashionistas inspiring blog post..Hired!

  20. Carol Edwards says:

    That’s my kind of entertaining!

  21. Hey ladies! Great post! I’m getting ready to host a chocolate party at my house and clearly do not have enough chairs to put everyone in. Good thing I live in the Southwest and the weather is nice… it might end up a backyard chocolate picnic party!

    Friends are way more important than the house. Priorities need to take place. I try to make sure the clorox wipes do a few rounds on the toilet seat (boys…) and the house doesn’t smell like diapers or dirty socks. Hubby likes to make sure things are vacuumed because hey, even if there are a few things out (inevitable with 6 kids) the floors look fabulous!

    Great post Kimba.

  22. best tip has to be keep it simple. I always seem to take to much on and then never want to entertain. great advise!

    Courtney from Mommie Blogss inspiring blog post..ben made me cry…

  23. We entertain alot using the dessert/coffee…dessert/hot chocolate (for the kids) theme more than anything. All of our friends have kids the same age as ours,and we either watch movies or have a game night were we play uno, yatzee, ext. and the kids have thier table set up with their game. If we do have a dinner, I usually have something in the crock pot that has been cooking all day so I’m not worried and stressed out preparing something everyone will like. Great blog entry Kimba!!

    Brendas inspiring blog post..DIY chair make-over

  24. Such great tips..I must admit I really freak out when I know people are coming…not because it is not tidy, but because the house needs doing up!!

    But I also get stressed when all my family come, in one go, and cooking, they , the older ones, like mum and stepfather, like to have a proper meal, I think it is how they do things and how they were brought up….I would love to do it like you, pizza, salad, etc and ready bought desserts..!! So stress free.

    annes inspiring blog post..Snowy Walk!!

  25. Okay, so it’s not fair to talk about all the fun people you got to meet at blissdom- {just kidding, I’m a little jealous} How totally wonderful.
    Great post Kimba- loved you idea of just dessert-
    Thanks for sharing your tips.

    teresas inspiring blog post..California Legislature-

  26. Great tips, Kimba! I’m trying to get out there & start entertaining more. Got to find some friends who are available & willing & that’s been tough for us, but I’m still going to keep trying. Moving to a new city has its challenges. These are all good tips, friend!

    Rhoda @ Southern Hospitalitys inspiring blog post..The black architectural piece has landed

  27. Great post, Kimba! Makes me want to invite some people over. Had so much fun with you this weekend! :-)

    Julia @ Hooked on Housess inspiring blog post..“An Affair to Remember” with Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr

  28. Melissa Lewis - Off The Wall
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a great post!

    I kept up with all of your fun at Blissdom on Twitter this weekend, so bummed I missed out! Would have loved to have partied it up with you crazy gals!

    Also, thought you might be interested… we are GIVING AWAY A FREE FRAME in celebration of our 1 year blogiversary! Come by and enter to win:)

    Melissa – Off The Wall

  29. I just love the dessert get together. What fun to do something different. Really enjoyed reading this post, I’m in the mood for a casual get together.
    LuLu

    LuLus inspiring blog post..Childhood Chair

  30. The only parties we host are our daughters birthday parties. And I try to let some things go so I can enjoy the day with my girls. Although it is hard because you do want everything to be perfect.

    SoBella Creationss inspiring blog post..ella bo bella

  31. I love to entertain and cook and bake. Sometimes I go all out and sometimes it’s pasta or order out pizza. I kinda like the pressure of a last minute dinner too, especially on the patio. Stretched my creativity.

    My secret… dimmer switches! Love them, the house doesn’t need to be perfect, lower the lights baby!

    tamis inspiring blog post..It’s Urgent, So Urgent

  32. Good to hear you’re back! Also, love the entertaining with ease tips :)

    Tamaras inspiring blog post..The Way We Were

  33. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of impromptu get-together like the ones you suggested. People didn’t eat out back then like we do now, and everything was lower key. My parents would have their friends over after Sunday night church and they’d pop a bunch of “corn” – on the stove top! The biggest splurge was the 2-liter of RC Cola. It’s time to bring this tradition back! Great post. :)

    Shannans inspiring blog post..Madison Street

  34. Hi Kimba! Loved your post! The whole “Commit Yourself” line really cracked me up! And the idea of a hot dog bar sounded fun too! Glad to hear that Blissdom was fun!
    Tim

    Remodeling Guys inspiring blog post..Close-Up Video: Creating a Relaxing Bathroom

  35. I grew up in a family with a mom who had and still has a natural talent for entertaining. People enjoy coming into her home and she always has such a wonderful way of making you feel as though you live there too! What I learned from her was not to leave it all to the last minute! Enjoy the days in advance if at all possible and prepare fun things to lavish onto your guest with, yet keep it simple. To this day I love to entertain and have family and friends into my home all the time. I have felt that the fact that my friends and children’s friends enjoy being in my home means I have something special passed down to me from my mom!

    christines inspiring blog post..My three special guests….

  36. I love the dessert idea too! Now I’m going to have to have a dessert party! :)

    Shannon

    lilyhavens inspiring blog post..Sewing Up a Storm (….or, sewing in a storm?)

  37. What great ideas!!! I LOVE to entertain! One of our favorites is having our annual outdoor “film festival”! We entertain in a very cheery, casual way, even for a “formal” dinner party! Being easy-going makes your guests feel at ease too!! Great post :)

    Stacey @ The Blessed Nests inspiring blog post..My 100th Post & A Giveaway!!!

  38. Thanks for the tips. I totally agree. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Who really wants perfect anyhow? We just want time with our friends!

    Lazy Mom Leslies inspiring blog post..Topic of the Week is Parenting

  39. I think having kids helped me loosen up – some days there was just no getting around the scattered toys no matter how close to guests coming I cleaned up. Plus, my post-pregnancy brain has holes like swiss cheese and I always forget something I’ve been planning to serve….an appetizer, the bread, a special drink, etc.

    Janine (@twincident)s inspiring blog post..Plant a seed, grow a field of dreams **UPDATE**

  40. I love to entertain and now that it is just the 2 of us I love to go all out and DO the table, make the meal and also ENJOY my friends! I just LOVE the table with the moss and rocks….am definitely going to try that one! But, you are right, just dessert, just snacks, just ANYTHING when shared with friends is perfect! Love the post. Pinky

  41. I love reading your blog. I hope you don’t mind but I have tagged you in my most recent post.

    Jens inspiring blog post..7 Things About Yours Truly

  42. Smalltowngirl says:

    These are great ideas!!! I love to entertain but have not had as much time/energy lately…this helps me have no excuse- I should just do it!!!

    Smalltowngirls inspiring blog post..How to Tell if a Man’s Truly Into You

  43. I have to sheepishly admit that I don’t host parties. I get so nervous about the whole thing….but perhaps it’s time to break out of my shell and actually invite friends over….

    Astrids inspiring blog post..just another day in our life

  44. Spontaneous just wasn’t working for us ….. at least as far as trying to get our family and closest friends together all at once. Everyone (adult children) are off and doing tons of things with friends and spouses families.

    So, we have started (just this month) Second Saturday Snackers from 12 to 4. Expectations are for everyone to schedule us in to their busy lives :-) They may bring guests and some finger food to share. I will provide the main entrée and will let them know ahead so that they can bring something to fit the theme of the month.

    We’ll see how it goes! Keeping my fingers crossed :-)

    Rosie’s Whimsys inspiring blog post..Dreaming…

  45. sylvia extra says:

    I do like these tips and the photographs….especialy the one with the chocolat cake…..I bought a book of Martha Stwart, even in Europe she’s an example for many women….

    sylvia extras inspiring blog post..

  46. I LOVE to open my home for others and have learned that doing that is really so much about me relaxing if they are to feel comfortable. As much as I LOVE to have everything lovely and perfect (yeah, right), I’ve learned that what someone’s really come to my home for is to see me and be with me. The perfect food, perfectly set table and perfectly clean home isn’t the high value – it’s the people and the fellowship we have together.

    One of my very best memories at another families home (this was 19 years ago) was the lunch with the bologna sandwich. That’s all they had to offer – food wise – but what they gave us was themselves and their love.

    Here’s some lovely spring ideas http://lylahledner.blogspot.com/2009/02/lovely-spring-time.html

    Love what you’re doing Melissa…so wish I could have shared the BlissDom weekend with you all.

    lylah ledners inspiring blog post..Lovely Spring Time

  47. For the next few weeks my stolen moments of bliss will be taking a break from packing and unpacking to check out what fun creative posts you have going on here. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Pearl Maples inspiring blog post..Sky Watch Friday

  48. Armen Shirvanian says:

    That is a good point about guests not coming to see a clean house, but to see you in that house. It doesn’t make sense to end up having a clean house and a tired attitude when the friend arrives. It would be better to have things out of order, along with a good attitude, to warmly receive visitors.

    Armen Shirvanians inspiring blog post..Mind-Mapping Your Day or Week

  49. Great post. The 1st pic looks so good.
    Stay chic!

  50. Vicki Waits says:

    I am entertaining several high school friends this Friday for lunch. I used to obsess over having people over…I wanted my home to be perfect, white glove clean, and adorned with the latest fashionable decor. Sometimes I would be so worn out trying to create this perfect environment that I would be irritable with my family during preparations. They dreaded me volunteering to host a get-together at our house. I have learned that my true friends and my family do not expect perfection. Now I temper my own expectations and really enjoy serving a good meal with good conversation in a warm, inviting, happy home. That has worked for me!

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