Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Absolutely No One.

Having people over is a nightmare.

I feel like I need that printed on a welcome mat. Ikea, if you’re looking for ideas I’m willing to share credit in exchange for a lifetime supply of meatballs and a full kitchen renovation. It’s your call whether to print it in English or Swedish. I covet your cabinetry and magical drawers. Okay, this is getting dirty. Much like my current kitchen.

I’m not sure that entertaining is supposed to be a nightmare. Other people seem to be able to do it without sobbing while rocking in a corner and clutching their child’s Blund Bear, or faking their own death. Do other people’s families have to hide their passports during the week leading up to a party to keep mom from “making a run for it”? Seems doubtful.

Grace’s favourite stuffies are Ikea Blund bears from 2005

Grace tucks her beloved Ikea Blund Bears into my arms when I’m not feeling well. She’s had them since 2005 and she loves them more than unicorns and pigs combined.

In fact if social media is to be believed, entertaining is effortless. And while mentally I know that people’s lives are never as blissful as Facebook would have me believe, the voice of insecurity has lived with me since long before the internet and smartphones, and it’s kind of a bully.

Ikea wants to encourage us to say goodbye to the stress and anxiety of entertaining, and hello to the joy of cooking, eating and being together.

I’m not sure why they think I get stressed about having people over. My hosting pattern has 17 simple stages, and is as relaxing as a day at the spa. And by spa, I mean medieval prison.

  1. Let’s have a party! I’m planning it so far in advance, so I know I’ll have lots of time to reorganize the house and shampoo the carpets. I might even paint a room to freshen it up. What better motivation to redecorate than having people over. Ooh, I’ll build the whole theme of the party around the new colour scheme. I should take pictures of the whole process. It could be a series in my blog. Actually, the magazines are probably going to want this to inspire their readers. I’m going to be famous.
  2. Pinterest vortex of perfection and overachieving.
  3. Pick out new furniture online and sketch out floor plans, while pondering whether I have enough time to learn glass-blowing so I can create one-of-a-kind favours to send home with guests.
  4. Bury unpaid credit card statement in a drawer and select “No Receipt” option at the ATM.
  5. Realize my house won’t hold the furniture I want and spend the day on MLS shopping for mansions. Dismiss that option because we’re going green and reducing our footprint or something equally as enlightened…absolutely NOT because the bank has started sending hate mail instead of flattering love letters about how much they value me. I guess “For better or for worse” wasn’t in the credit card agreement. Between you and me, I think they were using me for my money.
  6. More Pinterest. Pin elaborate recipes and appealing food presentation ideas. Consider how far ahead I should carve the watermelon into the shape of Elsa’s castle.
  7. Briefly ponder whether I should scale back so that I don’t make my guests feel inadequate for the next time they host.
  8. Start deep cleaning a remote area of the house that will never been seen by party guests. It’s not wise to clean the main area until closer to the big day. I’m nothing if not strategic and level-headed.
  9. Lose interest altogether. Pretend party doesn’t exist. Begin large organization project that involves elaborate piling system across dining room.
  10. Have mild cardiac incident when I realize the party is in two days and I’ve left everything too late.
  11. Cover my ears to block out maniacal screaming. Realize the screaming is coming from me.
  12. Black out.
  13. Snap out of it as guests are heading up the driveway. Dump club packs of chips and cheesies into random mixing bowls and hiss at children to fold paper towels into swans. Wonder why I ever even paid for art camp.
  14. Apologize for messy house (that’s actually cleaner than it’s been in months but is still embarrassing), and inadequate seating (I probably should have counted our actual chairs instead of measuring for imaginary ones). Make guests feel awkward and uncomfortable from my medical-grade sweating.
  15. Drink too much wine and anxiety-devour chips. Quietly growl when others reach for them.
  16. Relax, enjoy the company, vow to have people over more often.
  17. Instagram carefully cropped and filtered photos of a wine glass with blurred out food in the background. #HostessWithTheMostess #EntertainingWithEase #Blessed

I’m positive that Martha Stewart has a similar process.

I hosted book club last month for the first time, and I warned them all ahead of time that we would be sitting indoors because the raccoons on the deck tend to be quite opinionated about their literature. What had not occurred to me was how gross our house is and that our living room doesn’t fit many people. Although I did attempt to tackle anyone who looked like they might venture toward my hideous kitchen, I did my best with the rest of it…drank too much wine, ate too much layered dip, and had fun.

Before the meeting I was so busy being embarrassed by our house because it looks nothing like the ones on social media, or even like the other members’ neat and stylish houses, when really no one cares what the house is like. They’re moms too who are just glad to get out for the evening and not be cleaning food off their own floors. And if they do care, maybe they’ll make me into a service project or set-up a Go Fund Me account. Either way…winning.

The other thing I forgot when I was so busy seeing my spotted glasses as half-empty is that I have a fabulous book case in my living room, that turned out to be a highlight. Some of my friends saw that we have similar taste in books, while another spotted a book that she has been wanting to read. We talked about how all of our meetings should be held near the host’s book collection.

#letsrelax with my Ikea Library

Billy and I are in a long-term relationship. I hear he sees others, but I know I’m his favourite.

They didn’t care what was wrong with our house. They cared about common interests and friendship and books and learning from each other. So I’m asking myself why I would deprive myself of so many great experiences because of silly things like worrying about what my house looks like.

I think I’ll plan a party. Ooh…Pinterest!

#letsrelax and entertain without stress

Hey buddy…can you make swans?

Disclosure – I have been compensated to write about my experiences with entertaining. I’m still waiting to hear back from several magazines about my potato chips in bowls from the dollar store entertainment hacks.

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