I suck at inviting people over.

I have a pastor’s wife confession. I don’t invite people over to my house anymore. Well, not all people. Just certain people.

A host invites people over and they sit around the table enjoying a meal.

Inviting a friend for dinner… and an epiphany

A while back, we had a friend over for dinner. That friend had been staying with mutual friends of ours. Those friends happen to host all the best events. Upon entering the house, the first words out of my mouth were, “I’m sorry it’s not as good over here. They are probably spoiling you with WAY better food!”

Those were the FIRST WORDS out of my mouth! Like, before hello!

I had no idea the extent of my insecurity until this moment as I heard the words come out of my mouth. Why did I feel the need to start our night like that? Was I so worried that I didn’t measure up that I had to start by letting him know that he needed to lower his expectations?

I’m a jerk!

Then, it dawned on me that I never invite those friends over. I consider them good friends of ours, but they always host fabulous parties. They have a better house, she is a better cook, they have more fun stuff than we do, so I guess my sub-conscience didn’t feel good enough for them.

You guys… I am ridiculous! These friends are the most generous, accepting, and self-sacrificing people I know, but for some reason, I had created this false narrative in my mind. I felt as if everyone would be comparing me to them. Like maybe they would be disappointed if I hosted something. And so I stopped hosting things. I’m not sure when exactly this thought crept in, but I can see that it had a huge impact.

Thinking it through

First, I want to say that when I take a step back and think about it rationally, I don’t believe these thoughts I’m having are real. Second, even if it is true, WHO FREAKING CARES?! I shouldn’t be inviting people over so that I can prove I am the best hostess. MY “Super Star Host” friends are not trying to prove anything. They just love people! They use their gifts and resources to bless others because that is who they are. It is about relationships, not stuff. I freaking know this!

Making a change and inviting people over

The frustrating thing about this for me is that I used to host everything. I would invite people over for all the holidays and any random night. Throwing together a meal to feed a bunch of people was something I was great at when we lead a ministry of college students. I even did it in the early days of our church plant and thought nothing of it. I’m not sure when I let that thought of not measuring up creep in, but I will say that because of it, I am missing out on lots of relationships.

So from this moment forward, I am going back to putting the relationships first, both old and new.

Hospitality doesn’t mean I am the best cook or have the best stuff. It means I am willing to welcome people into my home and life. Strengthening relationships is the primary goal. I hope to invite people to my house who are different than me. I want to become acquainted with people I wouldn’t necessarily build friendships with because they are in other circles. One of the blessings of being a pastor’s wife is getting to know people who I wouldn’t otherwise. I have met some of my favorite people that way.

Inviting new people into my life is uncomfortable for me because, if I’m honest with myself, I am someone who likes to have only a few close friends. I’ve been hurt in the past, and it’s easy to put up a wall. I’m attempting to bring down the wall.

Keeping it easy

Thinking back to when I used to host everything, I didn’t stress over being the best cook. I mostly stressed over the house being a mess. That is no longer an issue because I have taught my kids to do the ten-minute clean up.

Rotisserie chicken was my best friend. Consequently, I loved to set up salad bars and street taco bars. Additionally, a “build your own pizza” night is another fun and easy thing to do… and a favorite of my kids. We use pita bread for the crust and stick it in the oven until the cheese melts.

A friend of mine created a “build your own salad bar” with this Ice Chilled 5-compartment condiment serving caddy, and I absolutely love it. She has 2 of them and is an all-star hostess! I think it is the perfect accessory to be ready for friends to come over. I’m ordering one, and I can’t wait to use it for all of my favorite easy meals.

For me, the cooking part is the most stressful. Therefore, I love these simple meals to provide a fun time with friends without the stress of cooking. That is what the focus should be on anyway, right?! Building relationships.

Here are three easy, “no-cook” meals that can be “assembled” when you invite people over

Street Taco Bar: shredded rotisserie chicken, cilantro, onion (we use green onion or yellow, depending on what we have on hand), cheddar cheese, corn tortillas, black beans, chips, salsa

Salad Bar: Romaine lettuce, rotisserie chicken, hard-boiled eggs, bacon bits, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, olives, tomatoes, and assorted salad dressings.

Or try this Summer Cobb Salad. It has my favorite dressing of all time!

Pizza Bar: We use leftover veggies from our salad bar to top build-your-own pizzas. We also use greek flat bread, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. Then, I stick them in the oven at 425 until the cheese melts (8-10 minutes).

If you still need help getting motivated, there is a fantastic book by Jen Schmidt called Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation. I loved this book and plan to keep it in my library to read over and over again.

Pin it for later

an image that can be pinned to Pinterest. There are people enjoying a meal together. The text reads "Change the World By Inviting People Over"

18 Comments

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  2. As you know, I love to entertain–with all the formal stuff! I love using the good china and silver and crystal and linens. But that’s just me! I love having a table that can seat twenty! However, even I can be intimidated.

    We have a friend who is a true gourmet chef. His meals blow me away. I hesitated to invite him and his wife over for dinner. I felt like my meals just wouldn’t measure up.

    However, they had done some wonderful things for others, and I really wanted to honor them. So, I planned a surprise party to honor them and invited six other couples to attend. Of course, I broke out all the special china, silver, crystal, linens, decorations, etc.

    Then I panicked! What the heck could I possibly make that would be good enough to serve them? I had a cache of recipes I used to use when I entertained large groups, but would they be good enough?

    Finally, I confessed to my friend, Bernie. (You know her.) She said, “We will all come just to be together. It doesn’t matter WHAT we eat. We just want to spend time with each other. And they (our guests of honor) are no different.”

    So I fixed my oven-fried chicken, roasted potatoes, chicken gravy (canned), green salad with bottled dressings, rolls from the bakery, and store-bought angel food cake with fresh strawberries and spray whipped cream. (Larry loves to play with it, so i recruited him to do the honors.)

    Know what I learned? Bernie was right–as usual.

    And everything looks special when served on a lovely table with fancy stuff!

    OTOH, one of my dearest friends, Marilyn the Crazy Italian, died recently. I have many wonderful memories of sitting around her kitchen table with mismatched plates and flatware (only the pieces we absolutely needed). She’d slam the pot in the middle with the cooking spoon sticking out. “Napkins” were paper towels.

    She was a fabulous Italian cook–everything made from scratch, and she knew how to laugh. And we ALWAYS had a great meal and enjoyed being together.

    As long as there is love around the table, your friends will feel it. Never apologize again!

    • I love this so much! And it is absolutely true. It is the people around the table that matter! You have always been my hostessing inspiration! lol

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  4. Oh my goodness….I have gotten so stuck in this trap at times. I absolutely love to entertain, but find myself backing out oftentimes because my house isn’t immaculate or my house isn’t as beautiful as someone elses. Thank you for helping me to see what I have been trying to get to….it’s not about being the best, but instead about strengthening friendships and enjoying togetherness!

  5. My husband and I don’t really invite people over since we currently live in a townhome and it’s not very spacious. There’s also no extra parking so guests would have to do a lot of walking.

    • I think you can invite one person over, though. Or invite someone to go to coffee. The main thing is to focus on building relationships. I have some of my best memories at a friend’s tiny apartment with no parking. 🙂

  6. I am guilty of this. I conjure up a million reasons to not have people over, but when someone does come for a visit, I always enjoy myself.
    You always write such great posts, Carrie. I always learn a great deal from them. Thank you for this one. Going to make some changes!

  7. OMG! This definitely resonated. Last year, I read Kendra Adachi’s book “Lazy Genius”, and it really helped me make the mindset shift about this too. The more I host, I realize that people genuinely do not care about anything but the fact that you cared enough to have them over. Your true friends and people who want to be true friends are solely focused on the social aspect. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. A nice reminder of why we do invite people into our homes. I rarely invite anyone over as I’m not the best housekeeper. Maybe I’ll give it a try again.

    • Yes! I’m actually comforted when I’m invited to an imperfect home. It makes me feel more normal!

  9. Thanks for sharing your story. I love to entertain and bring people together around the table. I just started reading a book titled The Art of Gathering, How we meet and why it matters by Priya Parker. Good things happen when people connect.

    • oooh… another book to add to my list! I love to hear about people who are actively including others.

  10. This is a great post! I am not the greatest entertainer and I have had insecurities about it so I rarely have people over. This makes me rethink my choices lol. I love the meal bar ideas definitely provide conversation and memorable gatherings.

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