Advice from other COH on Guest Anxiety & Entertaining
Lots of COH seem to have anxiety about having guests in their homes. Some COH may have not seen much (or any) entertaining in their homes as children and are responsible for hosting events and entertaining now that they are out on their own. Below you will find some advice from other COH from our Yahoo support group:
1. Remember, everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Your guests probably won’t remember if your toilet paper was folded in a point like a hotel, but they will never forget how you made them FEEL. Did they feel welcome? Did you find them utterly fascinating? Did you take an interest in their life? THAT is the stuff they will remember!
2. Think about homes you have been in. Did you feel more comfortable in the ones that were hospital clean, or the ones that were a little lived in? Having some things out is not a crime. You LIVE there.
3. Try saying *out loud* (like you mean it) “I am SO looking forward to so and so coming over” every time you think “I am SO dreading this!”
On Not freaking out:
- — First and foremost: have a trusted COH buddy you can freak out to and get it out of your system. You can also run last minute questions by this person. Be a buddy to another COH and learn from their experiences.
- — Don’t discuss your dinner party plans with your hoarder if you will fall into a guilt spiral because they can’t have parties…OR. ..if you predict they will start to say things like, “oh, be SURE to get out the special plastic cheese serving tray with the little mouse-handled spreading knives I gave you three Christmases past,” (again more guilt because you had promptly donated said cheese set).
Another good reason to not tell your hoarder is if he or she is a known perfectionist and/or a criticizer. The conversation will fill your mind with all the truly unnecessary things you have to do to make it perfect and/or question why you ever thought *you* could even attempt such a feat. Remember they are speaking out of their own fear or illness, not because they have knowledge of what YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH.
- — You have the ability to do this. You have already accomplished many great things and you can do this too. You have all that it takes and you can do a GREAT job — your guests are going to love you!
- — Make a list of absolute essential things, which you negotiate with yourself to feel comfortable. Instead of saying “Bathroom must be perfect”…say I need to scrub the toilet, wipe down the counters, and clean the mirrors. Otherwise you’re liable to find yourself scrubbing the waterhose to the toilet with a toothbrush when you haven’t even finished shopping for the menu. (all about balance…negotiate with yourself on what’s acceptable and reasonable — more on this below). Try to pick activities that give you the most bang for your buck. Mopping cleans the floor and makes the whole house smell good…but wiping fan blades in a room they are unlikely to spend any time in does not add as much to the overall ambiance. Remember, once all essentials are done, you can always come back to the non-essestials if you have time.
- — In your early days of entertaining, if you can, splurge a little to make sure you have enough interesting food that you don’t have worry about making…buy some good-quality, pre-made appetizers, dip, interesting sparkling waters, or something like that.
- — Be sure to plan a menu that doesn’t stress you out. If you’re really stressed out make it “Pizza Night.” Order pizzas, and make a great salad and make or buy a delicious desert. For me, I like the activity of making the food. Having that to do, makes me feel bettter, but I like to have as much of it done in advance as possible, so I don’t have zillions of dirty dishes when they get there.
- — Have music all picked out. Assign meaning to the music…for example when I hear “such and such song” I’ll take a deep breath and remember to relax. I’m usually so wired, I like to play relaxing instrumentals. ..it helps me to relax and it tones down animated guests! Another bonus is that if the guests get sleepy, they might go home sooner : ) : ) : ) You can always turn it up a notch for future parties!!! On the other hand, if you play lively music, you won’t be on the spot for as much conversation. Know yourself and your guests and decide what’s right.
- — If you have some areas of your home that you don’t feel are *perfect* and it worries you, dim the lights and put a candle there.
- — Practice on “easy” guests before you have larger parties or guests that are more intimidating.
- — It’s a balance. You have to have it clean enough that you’re not obsesssing that they’ll see something particularly bad. And, you have to remember that they won’t feel welcomed if you’re ignoring them due to obsessing . Same is true if you’re totally spent, in pain, grouchy, and/or out of it from non-essential cleaning marathons. They won’t know why you’re being irritated/not present.
- — Spend some time beforehand thinking about the person(s) to remember things about them, maybe even writing a little list for yourself. These are things that you can use in conversation and to make them feel welcome/cared about. “How are those jazz dance lessons going that you signed up for last year…are you still taking dance lessons?” While you’re cleaning you could be generating the list.
- — Ask them if they’re alergic to anything when you invite them.
- — Listen carefully to the things your guests say and respond accordingly (active listening, but don’t over do it).
- — Figure out a way to engage your guests in an activity…but make it seem breezy and impromptu when they get there…for example if your dessert requires chopped chocolate… you could have everything else pre-prepared, ready to go…then after dinner, ask them to chop up the chocolate bar (which is already sitting on the cutting board w/ a knife) giving you a chance to clean up the dishes…and not worry about them…as well as preventing them from clamoring to help wash the dishes and potentially *seeing* under your sink or in your cabinets. If they do insist on helping, be gracious and don’t get freaked out.
- — Make a mental note of whatever they brought…if it’s food for the meal, make over it when you eat it (praise, praise, praise)…and then be sure to mention it again when they leave. You could also use it to stretch out the conversation as in: “yum….is this a family recipe?” If it’s a gift like a candle or flowers…be sure to mention it again when they leave. Praise them for picking out the perfect thing.
- — For me it’s easy to start to see guests as a burden, because it is all so incredibly difficult for me. I’ve got to get myself in the mindset that they are a “gift” not a guest. I also have a difficult time going to other people’s houses. Who knows? Maybe they feel the same way. Do everything you can to treat them as if they are scared to be there and you want to make them feel comfortable (but don’t overdo it of course!!! This is just a mental trick for you).
More on not freezing up with nothing to say:
- — Instead of cleaning light switches out with a toothpick or scrubbing the inside of your medicine cabinent with a toothbrush…spend some time on news sites skimming for interesting things to talk about. Local news is really safe and another is Yahoo’s “Odd News” section. There’s always a funny conversation starter in there. You could also think of connections between what you see and your guests…if they are amature nature photographers and you see an add for a nature photography show…you could bring that up. Oh, I happened to see the add for the opening of so and so downtown…and I thought of you and your fantastic bear photos…are you familiar with that work?
- — Think about your own interests/hobbies and make a mental note of a few things you might like to say about that. If you don’t have a hobby think about something you would LIKE to do in the future and talk about that.
- — If you have the time and interest, try to make at least one unusual recipe that can be used for conversation.
You did it!
Whatever happens, reward yourself when its over. Congratulate yourself. Have more of your terrific food. Give your buddy a report!!!!! If you DID do a marathon cleaning…luxuriate in your fresh, clean home. Then sleep soundly. After all your bed is probably perfectly made with fresh sheets! Now you can enjoy it! Try NOT re- live the night moment-by-moment, beating yourself up over everything.
If something DID go wrong, turn it into a tip and post it below!
If you are a COH who experiences anxiety having guests in your home, do you have any tips on how you handle it? On entertaining? Please post your tips to share with others!