In the decade that I’ve worked for Sun in my Belly, I’ve developed a philosophy surrounding the idea of hosting.
Ultimately, I see hosting as sort of a posture you can carry throughout your life. I hypothesize that you are almost always a host or a guest. Let me elaborate … maybe you’ve just walked into the bank: guest; maybe you’re cooking dinner for your spouse: host; maybe you’re greeting the mailman; host, maybe you’re buying gum from the gas station; guest. Even in moments when you’re alone with your thoughts, you can curate intimate ambiance and “host” yourself: pour a glass of wine, draw a warm bubble bath, put on a Miles Davis record and light some candles. If you think about it, life has already determined that you will be a host and/or guest daily, so why not take some time to perfect your skills?
In this blog I’ll focus on hosting, but think about being an intentional guest this holiday season if the responsibility of the family gathering hasn’t fallen on your shoulders.
Hosting—when done right—is a pure, outward expression of love.
Similar to a kiss, do not offer to host a gathering if you don’t want to. I think it’s uncomfortable (for everyone) to invite someone into your home if you don’t actually want them there. Maybe pass along this responsibility to someone else and attend as a guest.
It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important and get sucked into a logistics nightmare for the entirety of your gathering, but these are special moments that you could miss out on if you focus on minutiae such as last-minute house cleaning or trying to finish that ridiculous floral centerpiece on your buffet. Not to mention, you stand to really stress out your guests if they hear you complaining the entire time about “how much there is to do.” Make sure you plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to finish those final preparations. If planning these details isn’t your strength, cut yourself a break and contact us about catering your next gathering.
Create an inviting ambiance.
Walking into a social gathering, especially if you are one of the first guests, can be awkward enough; often, this feeling is exacerbated by silence. Music is not only a wonderful artform, but possibly the most effective resource (next to lighting) used to create a welcoming ambiance. Music can complement and fortify any occasion, as well as filling in those loud pockets of silence when your guests might otherwise feel burdened to speak when they have nothing to say. Similarly to silence, darkness can also kill the mood. Unless this is a surprise party, turn on your lights. No one feels comfortable in a dark home.
Anticipate your guests’ needs.
Some of you may have attended more functions than others, but we can all agree that our days don’t always turn out exactly how we plan. That being said, you have no idea what your guests have been through in the moments leading up to their arrival. At a minimum, I assume my guests may enter my home hungry or thirsty. Food and drink (sometimes strong drink) will help diffuse a lot of things … At Sun in my Belly, we have mastered the art of planning memorable events. After literally thousands of gatherings, our seasoned event coordinators will support you in exceeding your guests’ expectations.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was, “You have to invite yourself to the party.” Every time we host, my wife and I aim to finish preparation 30 minutes before our guests arrive, so that we can have a private drink together and set the tone for the evening. It’s really cool when you think of a party as a living, growing entity: the party starts with my wife and me; we establish it’s identity by peacefully enjoying that first cocktail, and then we invite each guest that arrives following into this positive ambiance. I often do the same thing when managing shifts at Sun in my Belly. I love arriving early and being the first person in the building; having that special opportunity to set a mood and invite employees and then customers into it.
I can’t say it enough: these are special moments. These gatherings, when added up all together, essentially form your family’s DNA. They are all the memories that define what you think of when you think of your family. By hosting these parties, whether you realize it or not, you are wielding a powerful responsibility of somewhat penning the narrative of your family, or at least a few chapters. When done well, we all remember the holidays being warm and fuzzy … grandma’s cookies, that Nat King Cole Christmas record, the smells of pine and balsam, exchanging words of life to one another, etc. Conversely, I can also assume that the idea of a family gathering during the holidays stresses some of you out. Why? Probably because enough of these gatherings in the past have been stressful.
As a host, I beg you never take these moments for granted. Your duty is not just that of creating food and ambiance; it’s about creating opportunities for love to grow within your family in anyway you choose to define the term. That’s the kind of stuff we’ll remember. That’s what creates fond memories and excites us all to do it again. Don’t host out of obligation, do it out of love.
Happy holidays to you and yours.
Guests: you’re not off the hook either, but I’ll save those philosophies for another blog. 😉
Are you looking to serve something special at your gathering?
Here’s a cocktail that’s sure to impress, dating back to the 19th century when the original “Daisy” first appeared in Jerry Thomas’ 1876 classic, How To Mix Drinks.
The French Daisy
2 fl oz Cognac
¾ fl oz Yellow Chartreuse
¾ fl oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 bsp Absinthe
1 bsp Sugar Syrup
Splash of Soda Water
Combine all ingredients (with the exception of soda) into a mixing glass filled with crushed ice. Stir and strain into a wine glass filled with crushed ice. Add a splash of soda water and garnish with a mint sprig and lemon peel.