This post has been sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
A few months back I attended an event where a keynote speaker said something that really stood out to me. She said that one of the key aspects of their brand was that they “love parties” but they don’t “entertain.”
I want to go to all the parties but entertaining can be tough stuff. Mostly I think because we all put an undue amount of pressure on ourselves to have a perfectly clean house, Martha Stewart worthy spread and magazine-ready decor. And frankly, that’s exhausting.
If you’re hanging with friends, they don’t care if your house is perfect or your table looks like Martha herself came over and styled it up. So let’s all take a chill pill when it comes to entertaining whether you’re throwing the party or attending one. I promise, it all ends up in a mess at the end no matter how pretty it started.
When we moved, it was clear from our kitchen set-up that we’d be hosting a lot. Something I was equal parts excited and apprehensive about. It’s taken a while but I’ve finally become comfortable hosting thanks to a few simple tips.
1. Keep it Simple
I certainly have the tendency to want to overdo it. Go big or go home has always been my motto but for the casual summer get-together, simple is best. I like to stick with easy side dishes – like fruit salad and my favorite, cucumber and tomatoes with balsamic – and snacks for sides (who doesn’t love Cheez-it® Duo). Then it’s either grill out or order barbecue for the main event.
2. Stay Stocked Up
We usually end up inviting people over on a whim. Usually after a day at the pool or sending out a group text on a Friday for happy hour, neither of which allow for a lot of prep time. So that I have time to run around and clean, I like to stock up in advance. That’s where my Sam’s Club membership has come in so clutch. When I’m there, normally buying mountains of snacks for the kiddos, I grab all kinds of drinks – love these 90 calorie Coca-Cola® Mini Cans and snacks. If I can keep the kids from drinking all the Simply Lemonade® before anyone makes it over, it’s a miracle but still. I’ve also been stocking up on smartwater® – mostly for myself – but the kids love it with fruit mixed in too. Plus the selection of fruits and veggies at Sam’s Club is on point so I can grab enough for the kids’ lunches and still have plenty for a solid fruit salad.
3. Set the Stage with What You’ve Got
My #1 Rule: Everything doesn’t need to match perfectly. After my grandparents passed away, I inherited a bunch of their dishes but none of them made a full set. That used to wear me out but I’ve realized, there’s no point in keeping it all boxed up. I’m guessing I’m not the only one with some mismatched sets of dishes from parents, grandparents, yard sales… you get the point.Break it out and mix it with more casual things. If you’re worried about kids breaking things (around my house, it’s more likely to be Drew or I than the kids), then just use the serving pieces and glassware. You can stick with paper plates for dinner.
You’ll be happy you’re actually using things instead of keeping them stuck in cabinets and I’m sure they’ll at least spark a couple conversations. I have an old pair of NASA space mission glasses that were my grandparents that I love to use for making people drinks since they remind me of using them as a kid at their house – plus people always ask about them.
People can make entertaining feel like a chore or a competitive sport and, at the end of the day, isn’t it just about having a good time with your friends? I think in general, if we all just cut ourselves and each other some slack and focused more on the company than the setting, we’d all have a much better time. That’s not to say things can’t still be pretty but it just doesn’t need to be the be all, end all.