My Secret to Good Hospitality: Having Less
Post Written by Lilly
Growing up, one of the biggest dreams for my future adult life was entertaining: hosting parties and holidays in my family home, but more so creating a space where people walked in and out in comfort, with simple hospitality like cold drinks and tasty snacks at the ready. I know, I was an interesting kid.
It’s no surprise with this goal that I purchased my first home at 24. Ready to prove myself, I was anxious to fill it top to bottom with all of the novelties and “essentials” I had dog-eared on magazine pages since before I could drive. Someone probably could have intervened when I was registering for tea cake molds on my wedding registry.
I dumped all of my available funds, time and effort into feathering my nest, working extra hours as often as I could for that surplus in our budget for new chairs, new drapery rods or whatever was next on the list for our space to finally feel “complete.”
Years went by, and while our home was beginning to look so unique that it was being featured in publications (such as The Dallas Morning News, Apartment Therapy, and Young House Love), the hospitality part of my dream was still stalled. I always wanted to host and entertain more, right after we got a new sofa or finished that one final project.
New Home, New Intentions
When we said goodbye to our first home of nine years last summer, I honored and appreciated all of the memories made in that home with our family. However, it was hard to believe that I could probably count on two hands the number of times I had used our space for bringing people together in those nine years.
That’s a lot of mortgage payments for very minimal lifestyles and dreams, y’all.
At our new place, I wanted things to be different.
Hope + Direction + Community = Freedom
The most life-altering thing I’ve done to change my mindset around entertaining was signing up for the Uncluttered course with Joshua from Becoming Minimalist on a whim one year after our move.
Working in Joshua’s modules, I heard about the freedom of those who have let go of an attachment to material belongings. Being in an accountability group with (literally) thousands of other people putting in the time and effort to clear their homes and change their relationship with stuff made it all click together for me at a level I finally feel has permanence.
There’s no way you could have told me starting the Uncluttered course I would completely and easily fill the spacious cargo area of my car with donation items four times over nine weeks. It was as if the direction and mindset shift that the course provided made the release happen automatically.
Since I know you are filled with grace in your heart for a busy family that can easily get into the habit of cramming things in cabinets and drawers, I’ll provide one before/after from my experience. :)
A Home of Less, Filled with Abundance
Today, I still wouldn’t fully consider myself a minimalist. We live in a 2,000 sq ft home in the middle of an urban city. My small clothing closet isn’t overflowing like before, but has more options than a basic capsule wardrobe. I still pop into favorite estate sales and consignment shops, although these days I typically come home just as inspired as when I used to visit before, but blissfully empty-handed.
When I walk through stores today, I have a deeper conversation with myself when I pick up an object. I’m no longer weighing the purchase solely by the joy it will give me immediately, but also in consideration of how it may contribute to or cost me my peace down the road.
The humbling part of this process wasn’t finding the time, but looking at an object and knowing I spent hard earned money on it thinking I needed it and have barely thought about it. Honestly, most of the time the time spent with the item was to clean it, move it or put it in “I didn’t really need this” purgatory until this course. Looking at all of those purchases get together and fill boxes is imprinted in my mind and has kept my trigger finger off the “one click purchase” button. It’s been the wake up call I needed for my relationship with finding, acquiring and dealing with…stuff that I feel had permanence.
My style has always been eclectic and colorful, not exactly hallmarks of the minimalist lifestyle. I’m amazed how much more joy my “treasures” bring me when my home is truly a curation of my favorite things with plenty of space to shine. My home feels complete these days, not for looking a certain way, but because it holds my family and a few things we love, which is more than we need.
I’ve been the most amazed since working through the course in how spontaneous I’ve become with offering my home for entertaining. I’ve had more people over in the past few months than I have in any given year before. When my husband’s father passed away unexpectedly and when our city lost power in 300,000 homes in a recent storm, I felt at ease offering my home as a gathering place on the spot - knowing that I could easily open our doors and provide a serene and welcoming space thanks to having less.
Cleaning before guests is still a chore, but it runs at a totally different speed and efficiency when I’m not picking up and working around a bunch of c-r-a-p I don’t even love.
I hear it so often, but with most things in our home it’s really true that quality means so much more than quantity. I used to believe that I needed to have one of absolutely every possible home and kitchen item - so that meant that my cabinets were overflowing with unnecessary accoutrements. Now, our entertaining wares are really just two beautiful serving plates that are special to me and my daughter. I pull these out and arrange simple snacks on when preparing for company, whether the occasion is a grown up dinner party or a children’s play date.
Speaking of, I love hosting children since we’ve simplified the toys in my daughter’s room. Little children’s voices flood the house while I relax with the parents, as I know the little ones can pull out every toy from the shelf freely while they enjoy themselves and it will still only take a few minutes to clean up once everyone’s headed home.
An Open Door Welcomes Gratitude
I’ve learned now too, that when my mind starts thinking about all the things I think I need to buy or add to our home, the antidote is opening our place to community. Our guests never look for what I think is missing, but rather show appreciation and thankfulness for our simple efforts to be hospitable. My focus has been able to turn from worrying about my home and what it says about me to excitedly anticipating time and new memories with our guests.
Entertaining gives my home a purpose beyond appearance. This home may never be in a magazine, but it will be remembered by good people for being a space that values community and love - thanks to me changing my focus from “what else do I need to acquire to be worthy?” to “what do I already have that’s worth sharing?” That lesson was worth every bit of my investment in building a more simplified home (but, man, finding those tupperware lids in an instant is HEAVEN).