When Entertaining, Don’t Forget to Ask for Help

In theory, I have always loved throwing a party. In practice, that hasn’t necessarily been the case.

Entertaining in my 20s and early 30s was a joy. Things were fairly easy breezy and I knew how to allocate my time to prepare and execute a great event. However, when I became a mom things changed. Entertaining for others, on top of my hectic work and parenting schedule, was a new territory.

In the beginning, I put myself through hell trying to be the perfect hostess. I would run myself ragged putting everything into place, sometimes staying up until the wee hours of the morning ensuring it would get done, and by the time my guests arrived – whether they could see it or not – I was a stressed out, exhausted mess.

The issue was that I tried to tackle too much by myself…the decor, the table setting, the greeting, the pouring of drinks, the cooking, the serving (on top of everything else I was trying to manage in my life)… I wanted it all to be flawless, but in the process I took the joy out of being a host.

One day as I was preparing for a large dinner party, I looked over at my handsome, wonderful husband…probably with a miserable and frazzled expression….and he said, honey let me help you.

Like a life raft, there he was.

To be fair, he had always been there! He was always pitching in, taking on different tasks, and trying to support me, but I had never leaned on him like I should have. I was too busy trying to run the show.

In that moment, I realized that I had been driving both of us nuts with my controlling, perfectionistic behavior. And it finally occurred to me that if we made entertaining a team sport, the preparation would be a lot easier and the event would be much more pleasurable (for the two of us, as well as our guests).

After that stressful dinner party, we decided that moving forward we could do things differently. We began splitting tasks based on our individual skills. I enjoy decorating, flower arranging, table setting and mingling with guests. My husband loves to be in the kitchen cooking amazing dishes or in our bar mixing drinks. That small division of labor changed everything and made entertaining as enjoyable in practice as it always had been in theory.

Because of this team approach, today I am a pretty zen hostess (and a pretty zen mom, come to think of it). I usually answer the door with bare feet and a glass of wine in hand. But I couldn’t do it without a great partner. My husband and I have developed a terrific entertaining chemistry and prepping for our parties is almost as fun as the parties themselves.

Learning from past mistakes, my advice to other type-A entertainers is to ask for help. Get your significant other, friends or family members to pitch in and share in the fun of creating a wonderful event. If you divide up the tasks that need to be done before the door bell rings, you will be relaxed when the guests do arrive. All I can say is that people know if you are stressed out and nervous – for your guests sake, and your own sanity, enlist help. A happy, calm host/hostesses sets the tone for the party. Ommmmm……..

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