Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Entertainer

(if I had music on my blog, you'd SO be hearing: da da da da DAH di DAH di DAH, but I don't, so you aren't)
Something that probably doesn't need to be said: I am a very social being. Something else that doesn't need to be said: I love to cook (and share my cooking). The third thing that doesn't need to be said: I don't like to wait for something fun to happen.
All of these three, obvious-to-anyone-who-knows-me, statements mean that I LOVE to entertain. I am very comfortable having a group of people to my house and I love having control over what is eaten and what is done. We have people over for dinner, desserts, game nights or parties probably at least once a week.
That being said...I have a few hurdles that stand in the way of a good gathering for me.
Hurdle #1--my husband. Married to ANYONE else, as Ryan has noted, Ryan would seem like a very social guy. But because he is married to me, he has to take on the role of "Whoa, Jessica, I don't think we can fit that in this week." Which makes him seem like Mr. Anti-Social, which he's not. Once, while living in Utah, he was fed up and said, "That's it. I really cannot handle having anymore social gatherings at our house!" I pouted and knew he'd come around, eventually, when he saw how boring things were. He didn't. I finally had to come to him, teary-eyed, and tell him how much entertaining lifted me and that we had to find a compromise. We have. But I have to be careful and read between the lines with him.
Hurdle #2--my mother. She is the Queen of Beautiful Hostessing. I am not. I am the Queen of It Tastes Good But It's In The Stained Pan From Our Wedding Gifts or the Queen of Sure, Folding Chairs In The Living Room Look Fine. She has matching tablecloths, tons of pretty dishes and centerpieces and the energy to put it all together at the end. Sometimes the daughter-in-me has to fight the "this doesn't look pretty enough" thoughts in my head (as I did for my book club, see picture right with Nicole enjoying the fruits of my labor), because otherwise I'm afraid I'd entertain less often for fear of the stress it would create.
Hurdle #3--I overbuy, overcook and overplan. In a big way. For the aforementioned book club gathering, I truly had twice as much as I needed. (I served the leftovers to 3 families the next night.) Ryan has a much more accurate eye for how much we need, and I am learning to trust his figures, instead of mine. But. Is there anything more scary than the thought that the guest could want more food, AND I WOULDN'T HAVE ANY AVAILABLE???? (No.)
Hurdle #4--We live in an area where, between church friends and neighbor friends, there are easily (not joking) 20 couples/families I would love to invite to any given event. So the choice is: Invite a few and hope the others remember that they got invited before and don't get their feelings hurt OR don't ever do anything. You know what I choose, but I actually make a list of everyone I want to hang out with and rotate through, (lists, schedules, rules--aahh!) so I feel better.
What are your hurdles?
And P.S. Why am I having to put periods between every paragraph to get the spacing I want??!


Lauren in GA said...

My hurdle is thinking that my house is never clean enough. Growing up...my Dad was very particular in the way we kept the house...it had to be spotless to have anyone over. I always fear that my house is too filthy to entertain. I guess it really isn't filthy per se, but...I just never feel it is clean enough.

I have one of the same hurdles as you have. I always worry that I will hurt someone's feelings by not inviting them as many times as, "so and so". Because I can't have everyone over...I am paranoid I will offend someone and have nobody over, sometimes.

Lauren in GA said...

can I just say how tickled I am that I was first ;)

Audry said...

I have the same over buy, and over serve problem but I have a huge hurdle called my husband who would rather spend a quite night at home with just the two of us rather than entertain.

Bridget said...

We love to entertain too. My problem is I am not a good cook. So either A- I have just girl friends over and do a potluck. Or B wait until Nathan is home and available (which isn't often)so he can cook and have couple friends over. Let 's just say that nine times out of ten I am having girl friends over.

Meg said...

Why don't I live in Spokane? Sounds fun!

The paragraph spacing is an off an on problem for me to. I have to go to "Edit html" sometimes and hit the "enter" key after my paragraphs to get them to space sometimes!

Jia@ColorMeUntypical said...

Oh thank you for posting this girl! My hurdle is I've yet to let my inner hostess out! Throwing dinner parties just doesn't seem like what you do these days ... I should have been born in the 30's or something I swear.

I'm just always concerned that people will not show up, or that it'll seem strange.

That and I don't know how far in advance you should invite people. Most of my friends have children and since we don't, I don't understand what time and days are approapriate really.

Annemarie said...

I totally have the hurdle #2 where I worry that things won't be "perfect" so it keeps me from entertaining as much as I'd like. I'm doing MUCH better, though. I'm learning to just get over it!

Carie said...

I am with you with the food. It's got to be good - we only do parties with GOOD food, otherwise, why bother?

Decor? I'd say I am above average in that category.

My hurdle is the whole who-to- invite/who-not-to-invite thing. I have some very DEAR core friends (who I like to call the fab 4.) But people like to start throwing around the "clique" word if we spent too much time together. I mean, I have no family here - am not supposed to have any friends? I have NEVER understood this concept, because let's be honest: I would have to have a maid, a cook and a considerably larger budget to invite EVERYONE.

Another hurdle: as my kids get older, I find less time for my social gathering. Sports, scouts, church activites, school events, calling responsibilities and we are pretty much booked. And I am okay with that.

My biggest hurdle is not living next to YOU because I'm pretty sure we would party all the time.

Sorry that was so long.

Kevin said...

the high f can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znluwLNcL7g

It was not a stunt-like event live, it was simply amazing and in the middle of a 3-hour long opera.


♥Shally said...

My biggest hurdle is 4 kids and under with no family around...

With the spacing... sometimes I just push the "bullet" button so it puts bullets before each paragraph, then push it again to take them off, and WALA!!! The spacing is fixed.

Ilene said...

My hurdle is having to ASK people over. I am always afraid of rejection. You would think I lived a sad life but I didn't. My mom and sister are total party-throwers like you and somehow I just missed that entertaining gene.

It was so much fun being a part of your party rotation. I was super impressed by the mix of people you were always including. I miss it.

I should follow your example here but well, I am just proud of myself for saying "hello" to someone in R.S. Baby steps, you know?

By the way, I never noticed the dishes because I was ALWAYS busy eating the super beautifully made food...

diane said...

I'm a party girl too. Paper plates and potluck works for me.
With teens it's almost every night. I keep lots of microwave popcorn and popscicles in the house.

Dancin Queen said...

You're my kind of girl. I like entertaining too, but don't feel like I'm very good at it.

I have a teeny kitchen area, and I don't really have any pretty serving dishes. But I also don't mind the paper plates idea.

Da da da DA da DA da DA......

J'net said...

I think having a party SHOULD be a daily plan...
My dad wakes up every morning and plans dessert and I learned from him, oops he's diabetic?
Well, glad to hear that you are a party lover too!
I have actually gotten to the place in life that
parties need to be SIMPLE and EASY!
Costco helps a lot!
After the big house... I now party w/ paper goods!
Potlucks are good.
New tastes offered up, especially here in Hawaii!
Meeting and eating at the beach is easy over here.
The more the merrier is a great Hawaiian motto, so
we KEEP getting invited to show up!
I've found that IF I don't expect enthusiasm from MY spouse it is easier on BOTH of us...
AND yes, YOUR mom puts on a party with the best of 'em!!! Loved doing parties with Dorrie!!

The Hansen Clan said...

Your parties are always so amazing, fun and full of good food! You get all of us to be more social - thank you for that and for being so thoughtful about all of it. You guys are great! Thanks for not giving up on us with our monumentally bad timing - we love hanging out with you guys.

As for my hurdle... is not being able to decide on a hurdle a hurdle, or do I have to pick just one... or should I narrow it down first and then alphabetize it before I ... wow, I just answered my own question - YIKES!

Rachel said...

Oh how I love a good party!!

My hurdle is worrying if the food I prepare is edible. I'm always so freaked out it will kill someone.

But I oh so love entertaining, too.

Another hurdle of mine (and my hubby's) is the dilemma of WHO to invite over. I always want to invite friends we're comfortable with and don't have to worry about awkward silence with - but HE wants to fellowship and invite over new ward members or his hometeaching families. Such the dilemma...

The Parkers said...

Space! I don't have enough room for the 5 1/2 of us, let alone friends. All our entertaining has to be done in the very short summer, consequently, we have more outdoor furniture than indoor.
I think the reason I love entertaining so much is hearing, "ooh, this is yummy" from other people instead of my family's usual, "I want spaghetti instead!"

rubberbandgrl said...

I'd say my hurdle is Cameron.
He is starting to loosen up and will go for last minute social events at our house if he's completely comfortable with the folks who are coming.
The man likes his down time.

Hollyween said...

I love to entertain too, but never feel like my stuff is pretty enough so I just don't do it as often as I'd like to. I get caught up in the 'my house isn't good enough, big enough and my serving dishes aren't pretty enough' category. John has 6 sisters and one of them has the most beautiful serving dishes ever and for some reason, she pops in my head with all her pretty stuff when I think about planning a party. Stupid, I know. Also, I'm much bigger at social gatherings than John is so that's a hurdle too.

Hey, are those Pampered Chef stones with vegetable pizza? I love that recipe. I used to make it all the time at my PC shows.

andrea said...

oh this so gets me off the hook.

skip said to me (and this is the honest truth) "when we go up to CDA, why don't you give stephanie a call. maybe she can meet up with us." i said, "do you mean jessica?" he said, "yes. jessica."

he wanted us to be more social. i figured
a) you are pregnant and have four little ones. a 17 mile bike ride might not be so fun.
b) you've been loading up said crew a lot lately, and also just recently consumed gooeys. it might be overkill.
c) you would feel pressured to accept our invitation when you didn't really want to.

so. in the spirit of guilt-free, enjoyable socializing, i didn't tell you we came up.

so we're good, right?

Christie said...

My hurdle is in that I want it to be absolutely perfect and I WAY over do it in terms of quantity, just like you. But I secretly don't care because I know we'll just eat the leftovers for the next week.

If your spacing is screwey, go to edit html and delete any < div > from the post. That should fix it.

Kimberly said...

I like your style (even though you are disgusted with me, lol). If I lived by you I would want to party with you all of the time. So here are my hurdles:
1. I work full time and spend too much time away from my kids as it is, so I feel bad planning a lot of parties where I really just want to hang out with my friends and not my kids. Although in reality I do this anyway sometimes, because I feel less guilty than getting a babysitter all of the time.
2. I'm worried that I won't actually have enough time to pull through with all of my planning, cooking, cleaning.
3. My hubby likes gatherings once people are actually over, but he always thinks it is a bad idea when I ask him so I give in far too frequently.
4. I have a hard time balancing between the people I love to hang out with, are good friends already, and I want to see more of, and those people that I want to get to know better but are untested. I'm also careful about mixing groups (e.g. college friends, ward friends, neighborhood friends, Craig's friends, work friends) to try to keep it from getting awkward when people don't know each other.
5. My kids are pretty little and so I worry I don't have anything for bigger kids to do, so I tend not to invite our friends with older kids for whole family parties.

That all being said, I have a kid-free game night at my house this weekend, and I can't decide what to make for dinner. 8 adults, it will be 100 degrees out. Any ideas?

Annie said...

I so understand all of these hurdles but especially #2. I have a Queen Bee of Entertaining for a mom, too. (Whose most common question for me when I was a teenager, besides "will you please clean your room?", was "Why don't you throw a party?")

I thought I wasn't that good at it but turns out, I love it! I have to keep remembering I'm doing it because I like these people and want them to have a great time, not because they are coming to judge me (this is probably obvious to everyone but me).

While I enjoy a fancy, perfect party as much as the next guy, I especially love it as a guest when things are a little imperfect and we all feel free to let our hair down and just be together.

Nancy said...

My hurdle is the size of my house/kitchen. When we moved here we bought a 60 year old house that was made for very small people. None of the counters are high enough, very little space, etc. Plus... I don't have a dishwasher, and Will complains when we have people over because he does the dishes.

jessica said...

Number 4...definitely number four. It seems like no matter how hard I try someone gets hurt. You just can't please everyone.

I love that you over do the food because we get to enjoy the fruits of your labors the next day!

Jacki said...

Numbers 1, 3 & 4 I can definitly relate too! Luckily though, my mom is a Sam's Club/Costco host, so if I remove the food from the original package, I am pretty much going above and beyond something she would do.

I remember Thanksgiving at your family's house, and your mom had EVERYTHING perfectly pretty!

Laurie said...

My hurdles:

#1. Not enough people where we live. Seriously, when we first moved in, we were the only family with young children. I'm very comfortable having our "basic" friends over often, but I worry they may get bored with us. Can I borrow some of your 20+?

#2. Worry the house isn't clean enough. Did I mention I have 3.5 little boys (who cannot manage to pee IN the toilet, even though they frequently hit various intended targets outside) and 2 dogs?

#3. Totally hear you on the over food prep. Growing up, events were planned around food, good food, and lots of food. Hence, I'm rather well-rounded. :) Really, this shouldn't be considered a hurdle, but a talent.

#4. Another hurdle--space. I want the bigger kitchen and house. I mean, when my own kids drive me crazy in the confined area, I don't feel like inviting more over.

#5. As for serving pieces, I LOVE them. I'm curbing my urge to buy more all the time (you can only use so many cake plates).

Sorry for the novella.

Nicole said...

Mine is that I want to get too "theme-y" (which is why I enjoy kids' birthday parties so much - but sometimes adults don't appreciate having to wear Harry Potter glasses at their book club meeting, you know?)? And I also over-buy, and over-plan, and over-make, but in the end, I'm always glad that I did since I have leftovers to enjoy! PS - I need your recipes to add to the book club blog (your menu, decorating and house were divine)! Not so much with my picture, though ... :-)

Meg said...

Thanks for sending me to your Twilight friend's blog! Very funny. I already ordered my shirt. It says "Team Edward" and then in small letter "Jacob Stinks" Hope you are having a Breaking Dawn party too!

I guess I'm an enabler.☺

Meridith said...

Man, I sure miss your cooking Jessica! You always inspire me to cook some good stuff.

Jenibelle said...

Folding chairs aren't okay? I now have a hurdle.

Actually my hurdle is my husband who hates messes. He is definitely not going to love this next week as we throw the ultimate party.

I over buy too and I don't have cute stuff either, but if you love me you will eat a lot and not care what it is served on!!

Anisa said...

I like to entertain, but I'm usually too shy to invite people over. I need to have a good excuse. I think that's my biggest hurdle.