Party Hosts: Four Ways to Save Yourself from Ruin

By Nicole Harding

Celebrate good times come on! There's a party going on right here....a last  ... you know the words.

And it seems like I am singing that song all the time. We love to entertain. Any occasion is a good enough occasion to celebrate. Sunny day? Let's party. Rainy day? Let's celebrate. The more the merrier.

But this holiday had me feeling anxious. The list was growing longer, folks I didn't know. And I am a worrier. I worry about things that may never happen but I cannot turn it off. Like a pesky leak it just doesn't stop and it seeps into the corners of my mind.

A few years ago we readied the house for a party, our first in this home. It was picture perfect down to the napkins and flowers and scented candle in the bathroom. Sometime during the evening the candle was dropped and the toilet seat burned. (Even a reader here for the first time knows that I cannot make this up).

Yes, the brand new house toilet seat cover was marred with brown burns! I found this the next day doing my after party assessment and clean up. Lord I talked about this incident. I fumed over it. I was as hot as the flame that burned it! And....I am writing about it now. It scarred me more than the seat cover; it wasn't the damage as much as no one telling me. I felt taken advantage of...and occasionally that incident creeps into my mind and lives there, rent free, causing mayhem!

The guest list was growing longer and I was getting anxious. I will watch the pool like a hawk....what if the children can't swim? Ugh. I will watch the floors like a hawk....surely they won't dry off coming in. I will watch the food like a hawk, what if there isn't enough. Finally, I realized....I am not a hawk!  

And so on this past Independence Day I declared my own Independence from worry!

I believe that love is in the details. I like to make everything just so. But sometimes love is in letting go.....and I did. These are a few of the things I tried for the first time:

1. Let people bring things. Yep, I said it. It goes against every controlling fiber in my body but it's okay. Let them bring things and make room on the counter for all of it. So what if it doesn't match. Fit it in!

2. Let people take things! Yep....don't hide the foil. Put it out. Help them wrap. My inner dialogue around wrapping things to go has always been muddied. I have been victim to the ferocious wrapper that packs full platters up before the first guest arrives and my nerves have been irked ever sense. One bad apple shouldn't keep all that food in my house long past when it's appealing. SO....wrap, and send it off. Double up. At the end of the party it makes clean up so easy!

3. Let the towels hang on the fence and the red cups litter the lawn. I know, I know. The nerves in my neck start to twitch. That is so not what it must look like in Martha Stewart's backyard. But hey, this isn't her backyard and while I do sweep the scene on clean up runs I didn't become obsessed with it and I am still alive today. Amazing!

4. Be present. I realize that with all I do to prepare for gatherings I am rarely "present" at them. My mind is on all of the details and possibilities that may need my attention. This time I sat down and stayed awhile. I got to know some new things about a nephew I hadn't see in a while. I made a baby cry and shushed him back to peace. I held my mother's hand. God, when was the last time I did that?

In all of this I remembered the reason I love to entertain so much.

While I can get dreamy over the right invite, and I have been known to swoon over table settings, I love my friends and family and want as many opportunities to connect with them as possible.

When schedules are hectic I love that our home is always a connection point; a place where it's safe, and fun, and familiar. And may even see fresh flowers and a magazine ready cocktail spread! Happy Summer! Let the celebrations continue!

Real talk!

 Nicole Harding is an expert in leadership development and a wife and mother focused on spreading positivity; one conversation, one home project, and one dynamite deal at a time.

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