One time John and I went to a party where a guy was accidentally set on fire.
It kind of put a damper on a very fun evening, but we all took him to the hospital to get checked out and his heavy fisherman knit sweater saved him from being badly burned. It ended up being a great story we tell and a cautionary tale for those who think making flaming Rice Krispy Treats might be a good idea. (NOTE TO FILE: do NOT pour the brandy and light the flame at the same time. Fire tends to travel up the liquid stream and on to pourer)
I share this because I was talking to daughter, Katy recently and suggested a party like the one we attended years ago and have copied since. It might be called “The Stretch Yourself and Get to Know Some New People While Making a Mess Together Party”.
There’s no one right way to do hospitality. But always, hospitality is about “There you are!” not “Here I am!”
It’s about welcome not wow. Knitting together hands and hearts with thanksgiving and a little laughter. And this party did all of those things.
We showed up on a cold February night all those years ago responding to an invitation for dinner. When we arrived, there were some snacks out, but there were no other signs that we were expected. The hostess announced that she had not prepared dinner. That was our job.
She paired us up with someone we didn’t know well and gave each pair detailed instructions. It was a simple dinner – pasta, salad, bread, and…yes, Rice Krispy Treats (assigned to two creative men who decided flambé would be fun). In addition, a pair was assigned to set the table, make place cards, and come up with a discussion question.
It was one of the best parties we’ve been to because:
- It was about participation not perfection. This was true hospitality and community building. Everyone felt a part.
- It was comfortable. People in social situations often feel much more at ease DOING something side by side or collaborating rather than grasping for conversation with someone they don’t know.
- It was messy. This home did NOT have a gourmet kitchen or a lot of room, but that was ok! Our hosts set up stations and part of the fun was tripping over each other as we worked together.
- It was simple. The plan and menu were simple, but there was room for each pair to add creative flair.
And if something doesn’t turn out perfect (or someone catches on fire) hopefully you’ll all be able to laugh and move on.
What are some creative hospitality ideas you’ve tried? I’d love to learn from you!
*The picture is a free printable I got and framed from The Nesting Place.