I'm a huge fan of interviewing people with admirable lives for their secrets to living...to being successful...to even keeping their homes clean. Good wisdom from smart people is invaluable. I want to take advice from people in hopes that I can skip over more of the "making mistakes" part of life.
Recently I reached out to people I found compelling from our house tours and asked their opinion on what the most important thing about making a home is and the things in their home they felt were worth the money when it came to happiness. (Glad to see that rugs, books and art made the "worth it" list, considering my apartment is 99.9% of those three things).
It's fitting then, that in this last post of the series, the advice shared is something I'm stubborn about. Wisdom I need to hear over (and over) again. And since several people responded with the same answer, maybe it's something you need to hear again, too. This was my question: what do you wish you did more often at home?
Their unanimous answer:
"Entertaining is something we love to do but simply don't do enough. The last dinner party we held had us glowing for days. It's such a joy to have a meeting of creative minds over a lovingly prepared meal. Entertaining fills a home with vitality, then later with memories that sustain."
— Carol Stall is an artist and jewelry designer, and we toured her and her husband Phil's charming 1930s Austin home.
"There is one thing that I wish I'd done more of, and that's entertain. I've got the perfect space for it, and I should do it more. I was reminded of that recently when I left my job to take up another position. See, I've developed a tradition of hosting a Christmas party at my place for my coworkers. It's a potluck, but I take the day off and stay home to cook a turkey. It's a laid back, and, well, comfortable event — sort of self-organizing, so less pressure on me.
The past couple of years I've invited the whole department, about 90 people — luckily only about half ever make it! So, when I was letting people know that I was leaving the organization, the responses were almost uniform — first, happiness for me, second, sadness that I was leaving, and third, what are we gonna do for a Christmas party??? So, at least it's not too late for me to address my desire to entertain more. And I suppose there's no reason I couldn't hold multiple Christmas parties!"
— Tim Tripp has a passion for the history of decor and design that's present throughout his Toronto loft.
"We are very conscious of how blessed we are to live in such a comfortable home with the room and the means to entertain. I would love to do more of this — to share our blessing with others. Unfortunately that also takes energy, and energy can tend to be in short supply with six busy kids in the house. It's definitely something we aim to do more of, though!"
I interviewed these wise people in hopes of sharing their knowledge with you. But in the end, their advice resonated with me more than I expected.
I'm about three years into living in the most delightful apartment I've rented in my life. It's a little New Orleans charmer with tall ceilings, cove molding and tons of light. Not to mention an architectural atmosphere you just don't find in new buildings. And I can (unfortunately) count on one hand the amount of times I've shared my space. In fact, not counting the rare overnight house guest, I've only "entertained" once!
So rare of an event was it, I even documented it.
With my own regrets about home, I shouldn't have been surprised when the people I reached out to all had the same response.
Entertaining's not for everyone (and that's okay). But if it's something you want to do more of, save yourself future heartbreak by making it a point to entertain more. It doesn't have to be elaborate. In fact, a comment by reader SlopeGuy on my tea and coloring book party post explains how NOT fancy entertaining can be:
"...it seems to me that people have lost — or just never learned — the art of casual entertaining. My mom has it — and at 84 she's having people over for cocktails maybe twice a week and going out as much or more.
I know people stress over entertaining and get wrapped up in the idea that everything has to be a big event and perfect and all. But it really doesn't. This is so simple — all you are doing is hanging out with your friends, the people who ALREADY like you. Let the invitation itself be your major contribution. If you think that's not enough you can lure them to come by inviting some mutual friends over as well.
...She thinks of entertaining not as something that you do for it's own sake, but as a way you create and maintain friendships. If my mom finds out about someone new to her town that she has even a flimsy connection to, they will get a call and an invitation to drinks or lunch or whatever seems convenient. No huge fuss. There will often be someone else from the area there that they can meet, usually with some sort of connection or mutual interest. It is very much expected that if you get this invitation, you will invite her back as well."
More wise words to keep in mind.