throwing a party

I have a confession: party planning kind of scares me. I inevitably think, What if no one comes? and then my party shame would be unbearable. Also, my introvert self prefers to shy away from overt limelight, and as the party hostess, you can't chill out in a corner if you're not in the mood to be delightful and charismatic. For those occasions when I do plan parties, however, I've taken a few notes from other hostesses in my life who are especially gracious party throwers.

{no Pinterest link}

The crucial rule of hosting anything--be it a run-of-the-mill Sunday night dinner or a lavish holiday party--is that your ultimate job is to make your guests feel comfortable. I remember one particular shining example of gracious hostessing.

I was a teenager, probably 14 or 15. I think it was a holiday dinner, and we had a couple branches of extended family over. One of my aunts was there with her live-in boyfriend, who is inherently surly. Sometime during the evening we all knelt down in the living room to have a family prayer. Prayer is something that has always been very important in my family culture, and family prayers, especially with out-of-town family, are always special. 

During this prayer, my aunt's boyfriend not-so-quietly muttered something rude and expletive. The prayer concluded, and my mother, who was the hostess, didn't draw any extra attention to what had just happened. She invited everyone into the dining room for dessert and was smiling and welcoming, even though something she greatly values had just been abused.

That is what gracious hosting is all about. Despite this man's blatant disrespect under our own roof, my mother didn't throw him out, didn't yell or get upset. She decided rather to live graciously and do her best to make her guest feel welcome.

{no Pinterest link, but it says Martha Stewart}

When you throw a party, gracious living will help you navigate sticky situations. Gracious hostessing will guide you in how to handle tardy guests at a dinner party, poor manners with presents, and that one guest who feels uncomfortable because she showed up under-dressed. Gracious hostessing pushes you to see your guests as more than just a name on an RSVP list. When you throw parties with a gracious heart, you care more about how your guests feel than about the decorations or the food spread. Certainly those planning details are important and fun, but they're not as important as how your guests feel when they leave the balloons and pompoms and cake balls.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
{Maya Angelou}

People will likely even forget the centerpiece you worked on for hours. But guests who feel welcomed, loved, and wanted? They'll never forget you for that.

This post is part of a 31-day series on gracious living. You can find the other posts here.


Julianne Palmer said...

so true! :)

Camille said...

As a party throwing enthusiast, I adore this post. Such a good reminder when I want to/actually do rant about people not RSVP'ing.

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