Let’s do a brunch. It’ll be easy. Our neighbor was moving away and we wanted to give everyone a chance to come by to wish her well. If everyone came, we would have around 20 people plus our guest of honor.
We love entertaining, but it can take a toll. If you live with Fibromyalgia or another chronic illness, you know that even cooking dinner is too much to manage some days, much less entertaining a house full of people.
As I said, we love entertaining, and I refuse to allow Fibromyalgia to steal it from me. That means I had to figure out how to do things in a way that allows me to pace myself so I can get everything done and enjoy the time with my family and/or friends.
I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve found helpful.
Making Entertaining Easier
1. Make lists.
When I’m planning any type of gathering, the first thing I do is start making lists: the menu, everything that needs to be done before the party, the grocery list…. even a timed-out list of what needs to be done the day of the party. Now you might not need to rely on as many lists as I do, but they help me to focus on what needs to be done and not forget anything.
2. Start early.
Once you know everything that has to be done, you can split all your tasks into different days to conserve energy. For example, our brunch was on Saturday, but I started working on my list on Tuesday.
Because I needed to shop for both groceries and supplies for the party, I decided to split it into two different days. We went shopping for plates, cups, plasticware, etc. on Tuesday. That way, I could just concentrate on picking up the food on Friday.
On Wednesday, I started setting up the dining room. (Yes, we’re one of those couples that only uses the dining room table when we have guests.) Since the dogs don’t go in there I was able to get my vacuuming done in that room. Then I got the tablecloths ironed and on the table, and put the plates, napkins and plasticware out. After that, I just cover them until the day of the party to keep them nice and clean.
Each day, I just did a couple of things that needed to be done so I wasn’t wearing myself out and inviting a flare.
3. Use disposable dishes.
I know it’s much nicer to use the good china, but believe me, by the time the party is over, the last thing you want to be doing is washing dishes for a couple of hours. You can buy nice-looking plastic plates and cups, and they even have silver-colored plasticware now.
4. Accept help when it’s offered.
Sometimes we feel we have to do everything ourselves, but it really is okay to let others share the load. I don’t know what I’d do without my sweet hubby’s help.
5. Realize it’s okay to take some shortcuts.
When you’re planning your menu, it’s helpful to realize that you don’t have to make everything from scratch. It’s okay to pick up quiches from the local bakery or croissants from the grocery store, etc.
6. Choose things that are easy to prepare and serve.
Rather than trying out that fancy new recipe, it’s okay to choose foods that are easy. I try to stick with things that don’t take very long to make but taste great.
7. Break your food prep/cooking into two different days.
I always choose at least a couple of things that can be made the day before so I don’t end up having to do everything on the day of the party. On Friday, my hubby cut up the fruit for the fruit tray and I plated ham slices, made the fruit dip, smoked salmon log and sausage balls. That way on Saturday, the mini muffins were the only thing that had to be made, and then the quiches (picked up from the bakery Friday) warmed up before serving. That made my Saturday morning much easier.
8. Remember everything does not have to be perfect.
When we’re entertaining, sometimes we get so wrapped up in trying to make sure everything is perfect that we stress ourselves out. Just remember, when people come to your home, they’re coming to see YOU, not your spic and span home, the pretty decorations, or the fancy food. They just want to spend some time with you, and they don’t really care about all those other things.
9. Have fun!
This is the most important thing of all. Don’t let all the prep and work stress you out. If you have to cut out a couple of things to make it manageable, do it, and don’t feel guilty about it. People won’t even realize anything is missing. Remember that the party is not just for your guests — it’s for you to enjoy also!
Having a house full of people can be stressful. It can also be a lot of fun. Whether you’re entertaining family or friends (or both) having the chance to connect with one another and share some quality time is priceless. Finding ways to make entertaining easier helps us to take care of ourselves while we make connections and maintain our relationships with those we care about.
Do you like to entertain? What have you found most helpful when having people over to celebrate? Please share!