Friday, May 04, 2012

{Friendship Friday} Are you comfortable having friends over to your place?

Thanks so much for your nice comments on my photos from yesterday. I'm also getting some lovely comments via the Flickr superhero group (some comments are too cute telling me I have nice "composition" and whatnot and I'm like "are you sure you're talking about MY photos) which is very affirming!

Good thing too because I'm getting weird about this stuff. I very nearly stopped my car driving home yesterday to go take pictures of leaves! Yes! But I'm going to drive there this weekend because I literally GASPED at the way the light fell on those trees.

Good madness :)

Have you signed up yet? Click here to visit Superhero Designs.

So I love how last week's post was such a hot topic. Love it. There are great points made in the comments so go read them if you haven't yet.

I just want to say..... I really LOVE that people didn't go, "what? that's not expensive" but that there was a lovely community spirit. Because as we all know, money can be a sensitive topic.

Onto today. I mentioned last week about opening your homes to others.

Some background.

I used to be a reluctant entertainer.

My mother never ever had people over for a meal - her excuse was money and fair enough, we had sooooo little. The only people who came over were family and always very spontaneously, no "plans", so therefore it was a cup of tea and that was that.

I think a lot of my reluctant behaviour stemmed from there.

But also, I'm not the best cook and we are close friends with some FABULOUS cooks which makes it awkward to offer up your little meals.

We then made friends with people who were not such great cooks and it was refreshing to be around normal people, and it also took off the pressure so we would just take turns to go to one another's house.

However, I was set free in a major way when I read Sandy Coughlin's Reluctant Entertainer. She said three things which were aha moments for me:
  1. when you're that reluctant, it's a form of perfectionism (and I don't want to be a perfectionist) because you want things perfect before having people over
  2. you need to find your style and do that. If your style is muffins and coffee, embrace it. If it's breakfast or brunch, embrace that. (My style is muffins and coffee, by the way :))
  3. the major point of the book...the purpose of having people over is connection and to be hospitable. (connection is one of my top 5 values)
People are not looking at how clean your house is, how well you decorate, cook, entertain, etc.

I realised that's true for me and so it most probably is true for others too.

Ta da!

And now I don't care about those little things and I'm much happier as a result. If other people care, then do they really want to be friends with me or are they coming to judge me? Hmm.

(My mother was horrified one December when she was here. We had friends over and I served.... burgers for supper. Yes, I did. No big deal. We had a lovely time)

I do have one small issue with having people over. We stay on one end of Jhb (barely east) and a lot of friends stay in the north. It does seem to be an issue sometimes for people to come "all the way" to my side of the world. To be honest, I find it very rude because if people invite you, you need to be gracious about where they live. I travel to that side of the world a lot more and while I'm not over the moon about travelling, I focus on the connecting and that is it :)

I mention this because Rachel has commented a couple of times on these friendship posts (go read last week's one) about how her "friends" don't want to travel 20 minutes to get to her. Oy, my blood boils. It's not nice! I only know Rachel through blogging the last 3 - 4 years but she is great and I would travel more than 20 minutes a month to go see her.

*deep breath*

I love talking about this kind of thing so when we were with our friends in Ireland a few years ago, we chatted about having people over and they were horrified.

"Oh no! People here (they're not actually Irish) don't invite people to their homes. We meet in pubs or restaurants only".

He went on to give an example of a REALLY good friend, certainly a BFF, but they'd never been to her house in the EIGHT years they'd been friends. Just not the done thing.

Apparently it's the same in London?

Our other friends said they do have people over and go to other people's houses but they are all South African and here we do that sort of thing so when we move elsewhere, we continue the good old South African tradition of having people over.

So, over to you.

Do you have people over? Is it the usual thing in your community/ country?
How much of a reluctant entertainer are you? Or do you love entertaining? Did you have to get over some issues like I did?

PS I have a friend date on Tuesday. She emailed me today to say, "hey, when are you free this month to go out for supper?" and since we live near each other (!!) we'll go on Tuesday to get the Mimmos pasta special :)

PPS not all's rosy in the land of friendship. I disappointed a friend yesterday really badly and I'm still so mortified I'm blocking it out. Maybe I'll tell you tomorrow.


  1. I am a reluctant entertainer and I don't actually know where it stems from. Growing up, we always had people over and my Mother LOVES to entertain. She is also a muffins and tea kind of girl btw.
    Gosh, I have MANY issues to get over and it's happening slowly but surely. My friend is popping around tomorrow afternoon. TO MY HOME. She didn't even ask to come over. I actually suggested it. And actually, I am feeling pretty OK with it.

    Oh, and I ran into another friend today when I went to Claremont. We are meeting up for an el-cheapo lunch on Wednesday! Amazing how there are THREE impromptu friend dates happening in the space of one week when I only really planned one for the month. Am too excited!
    Great post!

  2. We do entertain at home although we did way more before kids. Now I only invite people over if they are ok with the madness of 3 kids ( and their own).

  3. I'm a perfectionist in the sense I want the house perfect before having people over, but I would say we are not reluctant entertainers. The ppl we have in our lives are very comfortable to be around and to have around.

  4. Maybe this is just an excuse, maybe I'm a perfectionist, but I don't think other people could relax and connect in my house-ergo-I don't entertain much. While I don't mind our two very large dogs laying across my lap on the couch, I'm sure my guest might.

    As Cat said, the kids are also an issue here. Mostly because none of my friends have them, and partially because I'm slightly embarrassed at the state my house is in. I can't sit and chat while staring at a doll house wondering what this person thinks of the giant doll house in my living room! I always scope out other people's houses, so I want my house to be presentable in my eyes-which it currently isn't! (There's not much hope that will change either!!)

    Then there is the issue of schedule. I'm more inclined to have set time limits, and it seems that not many other people are. I don't want to spend my whole day entertaining, and I refuse to mess with the ladies sleep schedule! I would say that a good amount of people just go out for dates. Home gatherings seem to occur more around holidays or events.

  5. I love having people over, although in the scheme of the world, I don't do it very often.

    Before the girls were born, I loved having my work buddies over for drinks and appetizers occasionally, or hosting a holiday dinner.

    These days, I enjoy hosting my mommy friends - usually a potluck appetizer / dessert deal. seems like the uniting factor is people in a similar life stage, I guess as much from a schedule perspective as anything.

    For example, we've never hosted our neighbors, as they have older children, and I never felt like I could entertain the kids, in addition to the adults.

    Now, we have folks over for supper occasionally, but they're either parents of young kiddos, like we are; or they don't have children.

    One of my favorite recent developments, since the girls were born, is having close friends over for lunch or a drink or something...completely laid back...I seriously don't worry about having the dishes put away or the mail piled up. It's just a chance to see each other, and those few friends are respectful of my schedule with the girls.

    All over the board with this comment (!), but - bottom line - I really enjoy entertaining. It can be exhausting (unless it's those close friends where nothing matters), but I almost always feel like it's worth it many times over.

  6. My family is enormous and the gatherings almost always happen at my parents' house. My mom is always ready to have people join in for a meal...she loves feeding people. In fact I think she's almost insulted if someone passes through without eating.

    I like having people over but because our place is tiny and parking is a problem I don't usually suggest it and never groups. If I have someone over it's usually for breakfast or if a friend pops in for a quick coffee after work.

  7. Marcia, I very much look forward to these Friday posts of yours. So many elements of friendship that I haven't really thought about. I enjoy exploring and thinking on them.

    I love to entertain! Before the girls were born, I loved making fancy meals, experimenting with different recipes. There were usually multiple courses involved. Since the girls came along, I've had to relax my standards a bit. One time we had a couple over, and we made our own calzones.

    The thing about it is---I think I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere that meal provided more than any of my other fancy meals. I even shared that with Sandy (Reluctant Entertainer)---she loved it.

    It's hard for me to let people into my home without doing lots of cleaning. There too, I've had to relax my standards and allow dishes to be in the sink, or a bit of dust to be on the book shelves. I love those friends that can come into my home, and see unfolded laundry and dishes in the sink, and love me, and not even care (or maybe not even notice??).

    My husband and I are trying to be more intentional about inviting people over for dinners more regularly. We both enjoy it so much. Even just simple meals :)

  8. We always invite people over - it's our style.
    Our style of entertainment - Late afternoon lunch or dinner. Good wine and company :)
    I like how you say that people don't care about how well your home is decorated or how beautiful it is - that I too have learned over the years. You can do whatever you want, but they will walk in, notice and may or may not comment.

  9. Having people over is big around here .... you get folks together for beer and BBQ and watching a game on TV. Just about any get together is going to involve food - and LOTS of it, or at least a fancy desert. If you are going cheep, hot dogs will work. It's alright to have a potluck type meal if you know the people well.

    You fancy up the house, clean like crazy, and then apologize for how bad your house looks. I've never actually understood that.

    Some people are natural's at having people over - I've got 3 sister's that come a lot closer than I do at pulling off a proper event. But there are a few ladies in our church that just do a splendid job of hospitality.

    I'm not so good at having people over. We usually can't afford to feed people much, the house is crowded, and I get nervous - especially as most folks in America are way better off than we are. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining - I love having company up and throw birthday parties to entice people to visit. At least I can offer cake! Ironically, most parties lately are just my immediate family, and only the grandparents bring a present. One sister lives next door, and the other use to live here, so it doesn't seem so far to her. And sometimes I think I'm just not a very good hostess. I would rather do something for somebody than to feed them.

    Maybe I'm just weird.

    I am delighted that you would not find my house too far away. But I wonder if you could handle the awkward stage (foot and mouth disease) that I go through when getting to know somebody? I think maybe so, since you have already gotten to know me pretty well through our blogs.

    I really need to learn to relax when somebody comes to visit. Guess I'm afraid somebody will open a cupboard or closet and one of my skeletons or dust bunnies will jump out and ask them to dance. ;)


  10. My DH got me used to having a lot of people over very soon in our marriage. He loves entertaining and I learned to love it to;-)

    In the family we have the largest entertainment area in our enclosed lapa and with the play area for the little ones, our home has quickly become "The place" to have all parties. Sigh! I don't mind as long as there is helpers to clean up after.

  11. There are a few people I'll have over anytime. They're the ones that don't judge my house, parenting, etc. But for the most part, I get all nervous having people over.


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