A Cry for Help–I Don’t Want to Entertainer Over the Holidays

The holidays are here, whether we like it or not. November is the month we start planning, getting dates on the calendar, inviting, thinking up menus, cooking, getting our houses ready for the holidays.

Are you excited or do you already feel burned out … and the festivities haven’t even begun?

A long-time follower of RE recently wrote to me, and in true honesty, I thanked her for being real. Real, because I know many of us dread the holidays and have the exact same feelings.

I’m not a reluctant entertainer by any means; in fact, I regularly offer to host gatherings at my house and throw a couple of big parties each year. However, I am frustrated.

I feel that in our group of friends, I am the ONLY one who actually hosts people. It seems as though everyone else has one excuse or another as to why they can’t have people over. So as a result, I am the one putting out quite a bit of money and time to host people, and I feel as though I receive nothing in return. I understand that the payoff for me should be that everyone has a great time, and I am happy when they do, but it’d be nice to not have to cram a lot of people into my smallish house once in awhile and deal with the setup, cleanup, and aftermath of spending a few hundred dollars to entertain.

Much of my frustration came about recently when I hosted a party. I didn’t get a chance to mingle as much as I had wanted and I ended up not enjoying myself at all–to the point where I’m not doing this again next year. Even with small get-togethers, we are friends with only one couple that reciprocates at all when it comes to entertaining. It’s nice to not have to do most of the work sometimes and to feel appreciated when we are invited to someone else’s house. But with most of our friends, we are either going out to a restaurant or meeting up at my house.

My husband and I wonder, are we just not on the “A” list and maybe some of our friends really are entertaining and they just don’t invite us? I don’t know how to reconcile my feelings about all of this. As we come upon the holiday season, I’d love to have a few couples over but then again, I don’t feel as though it should be up to me to host ALL THE TIME if we want to see each other. Ironically, my house is the smallest of all in our circle of friends, yet I’m always the hostess.

What do you think? Do I just need to get over myself and be grateful that people like to come to my house and that they end up having a good time, or am I a little justified in not wanting to always put out the expense and the work it takes to be a good hostess? Or is it something else all together?

I think people are just not entertaining like they should. I doubt there is an A list. I know people have judged me for having an A list, when in reality sometimes we just want to invite people over who inspire and lift others up, who are encouraging and know how to have a fun time. The other thing about A or B lists is that, in our minds, we build traditions. As in, this group comes together, and the next time, the same people should be invited.

I like to mix it up. That is what hospitality is all about. And it’s always rewarding to invite new people over. Life is about growing, building new relationships, expanding our horizons, and getting to know new people and what they are about.

It’s inspiring to invite new people over. It’s also comfortable to invite long-time friends over.

Signs of entertaining burnout:
You did not enjoy yourself when the guests left
You did too much
You didn’t delegate any of the dishes
You didn’t have a good attitude
You didn’t include your spouse’s opinion in the first place. Was he/she on board?
You’re resentful of the money spent
You’re resentful of no reciprocation
You’re inviting out of obligation, not because you want to form new relationships or stronger bonds

There’s nothing worse than bad feelings when you shut the door after the last guest leaves.

I could be judged on this answer, but make sure that if you’re feeling burn-out, the next time you should simplify, invite people you really want to be with, delegate so you don’t have to do it all, and that you do a heart check (again, my husband is my barometer).

The last time you entertained, how did you feel when your guests left?

   

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50 Responses to “A Cry for Help–I Don’t Want to Entertainer Over the Holidays”

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    Barbara — November 11, 2011 @ 12:37 am

    OMG! I can totally relate! But let me say, you are young—and it will NEVER change.

    We too have quite a large group of friends that do/plan nothing—and haven’t for over 25 years now. There is only one other person besides me in our group that does anything—it’s always her or me that plans anything. The others always have excuses—”well, I can’t think of anything until after this wedding.” To which I responded, “okay, but what about the last 25 years?” That guilted her in to doing something—after the wedding—at least it was one thing after all these years. Prior to that, we had never been invited.

    I’m hosting yet another Italian dinner in December and have trimmed my list to just 3 couples. In our larger group, we have NEVER been invited for dinner by 3 of them in all these years—yet they are the first to accept any plans I make.

    You are right, entertaining is expensive. I don’t do it for reciprocation—we like to do things—games, parties, sporting events, etc. My one friend and I that do it “ALL” go on “strike” once in awhile—saying we are not going to plan another thing. Then we just can’t hold out.

    I’ve definitely scaled back on what I do. Even if you have people “bring” things, the brunt of the work is always going to be on you. And, yes, as I’m cleaning up the mess at midnight, I get resentful. If it weren’t for my one friend that actually shares my “pain”, I’d probably have stopped long ago. Now I just pick and choose what I want to do and who I want to invite. I stopped worrying about—”what if so and so finds out I did something and didn’t invite them.” The worst that could happen is that they wouldn’t invite me to the things they NEVER have anyway! Years ago, I was actually accused by one of my so-called friends of “hogging” all the parties. I told her then and still feel the same way—I would love for someone else to “step up” once in awhile. It would be so nice to just be a guest once in awhile—and get to go home to clean house of your own.

    What worked:
    We started a poker group 25 years ago. We rotate houses monthly, guys play poker, girls go out to dinner. That is still going on and fun.

    We still have an ornament exchange every year—even though myself or other said friend host—each person brings an appetizer of dessert. I’m getting a little bored with it after all these years, but it is still going. Now we’ve expanded to include our adult daughters—which is fun.

    What didn’t work:
    A monthly movie and dinner—we were each to take a turn planning it—after a couple of months, it just fizzled out.

    I started a “supper club”—each of us was to take one month for the year and prepare dinner for the group. That lasted just 3 months before someone dropped the ball.

    Sorry to ramble so long–or to sound so discouraging. But I just want you to know that very few people are actually “doers.” And that’s a “bummer” for us.

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 10:46 am

      Barbara, thank you for sharing what worked and what didn’t work for you. I think you are right that more people are doers. I love what Myrna shared below: Hospitality is a gift that I can extend to others. When it is given with strings attached—it’s no longer a gift, but something else—-a transaction of sorts. We never invite ahead of time thinking “I wonder if they will invite us over.” In fact, I have no expectations, which frees me up. Thanks for keeping it real though. If you lived in our town, we’d love to reciprocate! :)

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    Tootie — November 11, 2011 @ 2:07 am

    I think you’re right – sadly, just not as many people entertain anymore.

    If she is burned out, maybe she could host something easier – like a potluck or a meet-up at a favorite restaurant. Or maybe she just needs a much-needed break from entertaining this year!

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 10:48 am

      Hi, Tootie. I think you are right. Stop and take a break when there is burn out. I’ve really there are seasons in life when entertaining comes easier for us. :) Thanks for sharing.

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    Kim @ Homesteader's Heart — November 11, 2011 @ 3:58 am

    I’ve been where that reader is at. Usually it’s my BFF and I that host any kind of get togethers. Sometimes I think I try to force friendships that aren’t really there even though when these people come over we have a great time but unless I make the effort to contact them, I don’t hear from them.
    Every year we have a Christmas party and I put forth A LOT of effort in doing it. There has only been one flop and the others have been great. I admit that I spend most of my time “working” the party but I love looking back and seeing what a great time everyone had.
    We thought about scaling down this year and only inviting people that have actually made an effort to contact us throughout the year but then we decided that it would probably be a pretty small party. LOL!
    Like you said, I just don’t think people entertain as much any more and most families are just to busy to do anything, which is sad.
    Well those are my thoughts on the matter.
    Have a lovely day.
    Kim

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 10:50 am

      Kim, your words are true here:

      Sometimes I think I try to force friendships that aren’t really there even though when these people come over we have a great time but unless I make the effort to contact them, I don’t hear from them.

      This is where we have to decide that hospitality is not about us, and move on. Otherwise we get hurt feelings, don’t we?

      I’d love to come to your Christmas party this year :)

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    Carrie @ Busy Nothings — November 11, 2011 @ 5:37 am

    I absolutely feel the same way! But here’s the dirty little secret – my family was ALWAYS inviting people over to our house when I was growing up and my mother thrived on practicing hospitality (one of her spiritual gifts), but I can think of only 4-5 times that WE were invited over to someone else’s house for a meal. Hospitality, the act of opening up your home to others, is just not something that people do anymore (or so it seems). My husband and I have worked at being intentional about having people over. Sometimes the people we select click and it’s great, but othertimes, it’s a one-time invite.

    We rarely get invited over for a meal at other’s homes, but in the end, I realized that they may hate doing it even more than I do – or more to the point – they don’t think they can. They worry about the house being perfect and spotless (it never will be), they worry that they won’t have enough room (people will sit on the floor if there’s no where else), they worry that the food won’t be as good as it should be (scrape the burned bottom off the biscuits, laugh about it and move on – we’ve all been there), and the list of “What ifs…” goes on and on and on.

    In order to entertain I had to get over myself. I also had to come to grips with the fact that if I was inviting people over with the motive of being invited to their house later, I was always going to be disappointed. Once I moved on from that, if we ever do get an invite – what a wonderful surprise! Otherwise, come on over to our house and make yourself at home! I don’t consider hospitality to be one of my gifts, but I know that it’s a blessing to others to feel like we care enough to invite them into our house. Yes, there may be dirty dishes (use paper), the soup may run out (just had that happen – talk about embarrassing!), people may see the dust bunny that you missed, but they’re not going to remember any of that if you make an effort to relax and have fun with it.

    For the record, I think everyone goes through times of burn out on entertaining and having people over, and that’s ok too – take a break! If someone asks why there’s no party this year, tell them you decided to simplify this Christmas and you’re taking a year off from the party. You may be surprised who invites you over instead! Remember, Martha Stewart may LOOK like she does it all, but the reality is, she has a staff. :-)

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 10:54 am

      Hi, Carrie. Simplifying brings freedom, yes! I also love how you say you and your husband are intentional. We are the same way.

      (Your words): In order to entertain I had to get over myself. I also had to come to grips with the fact that if I was inviting people over with the motive of being invited to their house later, I was always going to be disappointed.

      Thank you for sharing these words. It’s best not to set ourself up for disappointment ahead of time, is it? :)

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    Heather — November 11, 2011 @ 7:35 am

    Being the only one in my family who does the entertaining = Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, summer BBQ’s, it can be quite daunting sometimes – the time, the energy and the expense. But then I realize that it’s what I like to do. I like to gather friends and family into our home. I am most comfortable being the hostess rather than the guest. It’s probably a control issue.

    Last year, I couldn’t host the family gathering for Christmas as I had just had surgery. I truly missed that experience and am already planning this year’s gathering.

    Recently you spoke about hospitality being your gift to friends and family. It truly spoke to my heart. My hospitality is my gift. If I’m waiting for that gift to be reciprocated, I’ll be sorely dissapointed.

    But when I feel like entertaining is a burden, then I know it’s time to stop. This girl is definitely on entertainer burn-out. My advice is to take a break this year, enjoy time with her husband and family and create some new traditions that don’t include large parties.

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 10:55 am

      Amen, sister. WISE words that you shared here:

      My hospitality is my gift. If I’m waiting for that gift to be reciprocated, I’ll be sorely disappointed.
      But when I feel like entertaining is a burden, then I know it’s time to stop.

      Thank you for sharing!

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    Bev Weidner — November 11, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    I can relate! Then I stopped hosting. Sort of. ;)

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    Danielle M. — November 11, 2011 @ 9:11 am

    Oh, I have such conflicting emotions reading this. I am so thankful for the honesty of your reader. Additionally, I am so very sad for her and the others that commented and have exeperienced similar things. It sounds just plain hurtful.

    I am going to leave the responding to those things to Sandy, because of course they want YOUR feedback, girl! And it also inspires me to say a prayer that theses ladies receive above and beyond that which they have given.

    Their experience also made me grateful for my own. I am a single lady in community with a number of other single friends as well as couples. The couples in my life have adopted me as a member of their families and it is a routine thing for me to get invited to their homes. I try to reciprocate, but what that tends to look like is me house sitting for them so they don’t have to pay someone else, babysitting for them, and trying to spoil my girlfriends a bit that might not be able to spoil themselves because of their responsibilties. But my experience has been all of the couples practice hospitality and resciprocity. It is very imperfect. Houses are sometimes clean, sometimes not. Kids are sometimes well-behaved, sometimes not. I’m down with that, because it adds to the familial feel.

    Anywhoo, to answer Sandy’s question, I am 100% stoked about entertaining this year. I’ve been thinking that I want to do something, but did not know what. I have a precious little house that has become a place of outreach to young ladies, married mamas, and women of all kinds. One of my very dearest called from her new-home state of Texas and asked if I would be willing to hostess a ladies night when she and her husband pass through from western N.C. to S.C. to see their respective families. This is at testimony to how I have changed and my heart has opened up: I just grinned and grinned all evening. Feels like a blank canvas, and I can’t wait to love on the girls in this tangible way, while delegating some things to them, too. :)

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 10:57 am

      Refreshing and beautiful. Thank you, Danielle!

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    Michelle F — November 11, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

    The last time I entertained I had my girlies over for a ladies night. This is where I experiement with appetizers and drinks I know my family wouldn’t try. My friends love coming over and eating exciting new things and catching up. I do this every other month.

    I could never have done this a year ago until I bought Sandy’s book. I was a Reluctant Entertainer in a HUGE way. No I take baby steps and don’t blink an eye in asking someone to bring something.

    I

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 10:58 am

      Oh, wow! Michelle! Thank you for sharing … sounds like a great time, but you are right. It starts with baby steps! :)

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    Curtis & Sherrie — November 11, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

    Wow, there are times when I think that Sandy has sat in on a conversation my wife and I had. We were just talking about the same facts, you open your home up, you do the cleaning, the prep, the set up, most of the cooking, and then wonder….. why have we not been invited to so and so’s house for a meal or a party?
    Well like a previous commentor said, some people just do not have the gift of hospitality, and to be quite honest are not interested in even trying to learn how.
    We have been told that entertaining is too expensive, it is, it is too much work, it is, it is not fun, at times they are right. But to all of those nay sayers I ask,…….. then why when we invite you are you the first person at the door?
    My wife and I always offer to bring something to a hosts home, food, beverages, paper goods, flowers, and have even offered to come early and help with the set up. We never go empty handed. And when we are asked to bring one dish we usually bring 2. I am not bragging here, just letting people know that there are those who love to entertain and get it, and when they are invited are appreciative of the invite and make sure that they bring something… and there are those who just don’t get it. We have one family member that when you ask her to bring something, and when we have family over it is at least 20 people…… she brings a dish that feeds 2 to 3…arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….
    Yes it gets frustrating, and expensive, and at times hurtful…… but you know what??? You allow all of that to happen, yep YOU, because YOUR expectations are not met, read the WORD- YOUR -, and I am talking to myself here I have been there a time or 2….
    So just remember that we are opening up not only our homes…. but our hearts…. and our lives….. and we should do it without expectations, we should do it to show God’s love, to those around us. We do not know what experience good or bad that some of our friends may have had at entertaining. Oh my gosh when we were first married, we had to throw the entire meal out and order pizza because I forgot to turn down the oven and burnt it all to pieces….. we could have let that devastate us but we didn’t, we still laugh at eating pizza on our wedding china, the table all decked out with candles, and flowers, and pizza and salad!!!
    Sorry to ramble on so but this really is a topic that I love, entertaining…. and it is a learned activity. And while I am rambling ……. THANK YOU NOTES…… better stop now but this is a topic we should all visit at some time.
    As we approach the holidays, slow down, breath, and entertain….. with abandon, open your home, your heart and your life to those around you…….. you will be blessed !!
    Blessings to all
    Curtis & Sherrie

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:03 am

      Thanks for sharing, Curtis. I must say, however, that I have a hard time with this … not necessarily your words but the concept:

      “Some people just do not have the gift of hospitality, and to be quite honest are not interested in even trying to learn how.”

      I agree with you, but … we say we don’t have the gift of hospitality. Does that mean that we are off the hook to be hospitable toward others? Really?

      Love your last paragraph too … with abandon! Yes!

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    Lauren@SimplyLKJ — November 11, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    I can relate as well. I was always the one to host Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it does get to be expensive. And, I felt the same way…I was the one cleaning, preparing, washing dishes, and when it was all said and done after only and hour or so of eating…I was the one who was miserable. A few years back, I talked with my husband and our girls and made a very bold request…just the four of us for Thanksgiving that year. Yes, it made some others unhappy at first but we had the best time. We have since hosted and helped host, but now we SHARE the responsibilties.

    I think people feel the need to do it ALL if they are the ones doing the inviting, that truly is NOT the case. Most friends (true friends) would be happy to help out and contribute. So don’t hesitate to ask, or if asked… tell them something they can do. The harsh reality is, it will weed out the ones who are in it for the wrong reasons.

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:05 am

      Hi, Lauren. I agree with you:

      I think people feel the need to do it ALL if they are the ones doing the inviting, that truly is NOT the case.

      Trying to do it all = misery!

      Once you get the concept down and include others, it’s much easier. And enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Thanks for sharing, girl.

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    Lori — November 11, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

    Carrie has it right…. Everyone is time starved and I think most people are intimidated by the prospect of throwing a party. They may think if it’s not “Martha perfect” it will be a failure. Some of the best parties are the most casual. One of my friends has a “Redneck Turkey Fry” party the Wednesday before Thanksgiving each year. The guest dress up in tacky gear (I was Peg Bundy from “Married with Children” one year) and guests bring tacky foods like Cheese Whiz, Ho Ho’s and White Castle sliders. We have a hilarious time, without candle light and crystal. My neighbor and I are the ones who always throw the Christmas, Halloween, Ornament decorating and Valentine card making parties. Hardly anyone reciprocates. It used to irritate me, but you all are right. Many people are busy, tired, uninspired and intimidated. I come from a long line of party hosts, so it’s in my blood, and my husband loves it, too. Money has been very tight the last few years, so we have scaled down, but have managed, by hook and crook to have friends over. It is fun!

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:07 am

      Hi, Lori.

      True:

      “Many people are busy, tired, uninspired and intimidated. ”

      But boy, are these people missing out on some of the greatest blessings in life, aren’t they?

      Thanks for sharing!

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    Rick S — November 11, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

    My wife and I have the same experience with entertaining. We are learning to welcome the “what can I bring” question and not expect invites. I do understand how much work it is to cook, clean, get house set up, anticipate the needs of the guests and make everyone feel welcome. You have to like doing it more than you don’t like it.
    We are often exhausted when the last person leaves and are deciding what has to be done now and what can wait until morning.
    We are hosting my wife’s brother,wife and 2 kids for the week after Christman. We know it is a lot of work but are so looking forward to seeing them and the experience of them in our home.

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:08 am

      Hi, Rick.

      Expectations can kill us, can’t they?

      Love your words:

      We are learning to welcome the “what can I bring” question and not expect invites.

      Thanks for sharing on RE! :)

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    Mary — November 11, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

    Hi Sandy,

    Your advice is excellent! I also agree with you that I don’t think that most folks have any sort of “A-List”. Instead, I think most folks just don’t enjoy entertaining. I often here from friends that they hate having company because they would have to spend a week cleaning up their house. Your advice in the past that people are not coming to see their house – but to see them – is always excellent. And true.

    In my social circle, none of us have perfect homes. We all have kids, some of us homeschool, some of us work outside the home…and so the task of just keeping our homes livable is a never ending job. But I will take livable any day over perfect if it means I can get together and visit with my friends. Besides – - – don’t we all feel better when we go to someone’s home and it’s not perfect? There’s a certain solidarity – comradery – in knowing that you’re not alone when it comes to house cleaning…and the wash! LOL!

    And for those who always seem they are on the entertaining end of the stick – - – Sandy, your advice is spot on…share the load. That’s why I love pot-lucks. Everyone has to bring something and that way the hostesses only has to prepare one dish and can enjoy the company.

    As always, thanks for a wonderful post.

    Love,

    Mary

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:11 am

      Sharing the load is really the secret.

      Also love your comment:

      “Don’t we all feel better when we go to someone’s home and it’s not perfect? There’s a certain solidarity – comradery – in knowing that you’re not alone when it comes to house cleaning.”

      I love the motivation to get my house clean, IF I have the time, but with last-minute guests the state of my house “is what it is.”

      Thanks for sharing, Mary!

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    Dayle — November 11, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

    My last “entertainment” was Memorial Day, and it was a family function. I had a great time and enjoyed myself immensely, so I guess that means I’m good to go another round. :)

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    Carrie — November 11, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

    We just got to celebrate my Dad’s 85th birthday…. and got to have my brothers and their wives over for a sweet dinner, last year I had all the sister-in-laws bring pies.. this year I asked the one who made the best one to bring pie!!! But as our evening was ending I said to my oldest brother… “so lets have Thanksgiving at your house this year!”… and he smiled big and said, “oh you do such a great job, we should have it here!”
    I’ve become my mom after all, and host almost all our gatherings here, except when my mom can’t stand it anymore and we’ll have something at her house…
    As far as friends go, I started calling sometimes and asking what they were having for dinner, and usually they would say…”come on over!” After a few times, they realized that it wasn’t that big of a deal to make a few more tacos….and started calling us, we now enjoy some weeknight,” don’t stay to late dinners” with friends who thought entertaining was not their thing…and they are better cooks than they believed they were, just because they never tried!

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:13 am

      Carrie, SO encouraging. I hope everyone reads your comment and realizes entertaining doesn’t have to look like a magazine!

      Love this:
      “we now enjoy some weeknight,” don’t stay to late dinners” with friends who thought entertaining was not their thing.”

      Thanks for sharing!

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    Myrna — November 11, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

    I reconciled this issue (pretty much) by realizing hospitality is a gift that I can extend to others. When it is given with strings attached—it’s no longer a gift, but something else—-a transaction of sorts. I also know hospitality is a practice that is fairly easy for me—and it’s not for others.

    So I try to give freely—-set my own boundaries by keeping it simple (I agree with Sandy here, bring your spouse into the planning. Mine helps me to keep things realistic) Something like a salad and spaghetti is delicious and affordable—I no longer stress about the house being just so, or the food being extraordinary, or if we’ll be invited in return.
    Sometimes though–I really just feel like I want to go all out—and at those times I find it great fun, but not on a regular basis. It does take a lot of energy and tends to be expensive.
    In our family circle, we insist people contribute and take turns.
    The main thing is, it’s the people that are important. Anytime we invest in relationship, we lay up treasure in heaven.
    love you Sandy

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:16 am

      Love you, Myrna. I’ve learned a lot about hospitality from you and have enjoyed many great meals in your home. I think you and I both couldn’t even count the different people we’ve hosted in our homes, and we’re always looking for more opportunities.

      This is powerful:
      “Anytime we invest in relationship, we lay up treasure in heaven.”

      Thank you, Myrna!

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    JMD — November 11, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

    Totally related to the statement of burnt out. I also did virtually all the entertaining for friends, groups, family and after 40 years decided to hang it up. For me I have no regrets except I wish I had stopped much earlier. I wore my wings off!

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:18 am

      So sorry, JMD. I’d for sure tell young people who are just starting out with entertaining to have “healthy boundaries,” and pay attention to burn out. It’s okay to take a break, not do it all, delegate, and then pick it up again when the time is right.

      It should be a blessing, not drudgery.

      Thank you for sharing!

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    Jackie — November 11, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

    I could definitely relate to this post. Last year I started having ladies at my house for dinner once a month or once every other month with the idea that we would get to know one another, it would be an open invitation if they had someone to invite. The idea was that I would start this, in turn hoping that each lady would be inspired to open their home, and we could grow this little supper thing into many ladies. However, that is not what happend. They loved coming to my house, I loved getting ready and we had a great time, but when we started our kitchen remodel they were ready for me to be done, and do it again, and no one was willing to pick it up and continue. We had a great time, but I became a little frustrated that no one wanted to make the effort. I have not done much since then, but it is time for me to open up my home again, this time w/ no expectations.

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:24 am

      Hi, Jackie.

      “The idea was that I would start this, in turn hoping that each lady would be inspired to open their home, and we could grow this little supper thing into many ladies.”

      Again, expectations absolutely ruin a hospitable spirit, don’t they?

      Glad you figured it out, Jackie. Thanks for sharing!

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    Shelley — November 12, 2011 @ 2:42 am

    Boy, does she read my mail or what? We’ve done Thanksgiving for the last 15 years, here in England where it is a quaint ‘American’ tradition. It is several days’ work preparing my Mom and Grandmother’s traditional meals for anywhere from 15 to 42 people. I wouldn’t bother for anything else – it is what makes Thanksgiving enjoyable to me, preparing those foods. I can count on one hand the number of people who have invited us over for anything like a meal. For a while I had parties for New Years, Valentines, St Pats, you name it, but not now. I don’t have as much money as I did before I retired, for one, and It became a chore rather than a pleasure. We still do dinner parties amongst those few people who reciprocate – that’s how to get on an A list as far as I’m concerned. I know that this website is about loving other people and all, but my Dad used to say that there is a big difference between feeling useful and feeling used. I aim always for the former because I do hate feeling the latter.

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:29 am

      Hi, Shelley, I’d say most of our friends do reciprocate. I like your mindset, here:

      We still do dinner parties amongst those few people who reciprocate – that’s how to get on an A list as far as I’m concerned.

      It’s true that people should figure it out that hospitality should be a two-way street. We can use the excuse “it’s just not my gift,” but I think it’s an excuse. Does it mean we really don’t try?

      For me though, so I don’t feel resentful, means it comes back to a heart-check!

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    Ellen Moore — November 12, 2011 @ 4:56 am

    I am blessed to have the gift of hospitality and it is easy for me to plan a dinner party, invite people we don’t yet know, and plan some ice breakers. Reciprocation is not expected now, but I used to feel some rejection that we were not invited to other homes, but I realized there were no parties there. Not everyone can entertain or enjoys entertaining. As I have aged, it is a bit more difficult to get everything ready at the same time, but I think our guests would rather have a bit of confusion here than stay home and have a placid evening by themselves. I can laugh at myself more now and it makes for good conversation. Our children enjoy entertaining and are all good cooks, which I think of as the fruit of my labor.

    I have taken breaks from entertaining which helps my attitude. Scaling down is needed to maintain one’s interest and motivation. I am thinking of repeating a luncheon I had many years ago. I invited several ladies for lunch the week before Christmas. On the invitation I wrote that I know they have much to do, but it would be good to take a break, share ideas with friends, and we all need to eat, so let’s do it together at my house. It was so easy and so very enjoyable.

    As always, Sandy, your advice was right on. Please keep up the good work.

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:32 am

      Ellen, thank you so much.

      I love your words here. Everyone should read them:

      “As I have aged, it is a bit more difficult to get everything ready at the same time, but I think our guests would rather have a bit of confusion here than stay home and have a placid evening by themselves. I can laugh at myself more now and it makes for good conversation. Our children enjoy entertaining and are all good cooks, which I think of as the fruit of my labor.”

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    marlis — November 12, 2011 @ 8:27 am

    Oh Sandy, that hit the nail on the head. I am in the same boat with a group. But I do it anyway because all invited have a wonderful time and i love seeing the group mingling. The last time they left, I felt good, i had a chance to mingle, we do a tapas thing and everyone brings a dish, some bring their drinks, some drink what we have on hand, it took me half a day to set up and 45 minutes with my husband to put it all up and wash the dishes, etc. and then we sat on the patio for another hour plus and laughed about the good time we had. I would hate not to see these friends. xo marlis

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:33 am

      Marlis, we entertained the last 2 weekends, both having new people into our home. I, too, felt the same way …. even with new friends.

      Thank you for your words, here, and a reminder of why we do what we do:

      “I would hate not to see these friends.”

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    Diane@LongabergerLifestyle — November 12, 2011 @ 9:06 am

    As I read this I thought, this will hit a cord with lots of your readers…it did me. Sandy, you have faithfully helped us all think about the reason for why we entertain, and to include our guests in the process. You are tremendously encouraging and inspiring.

    I see that my younger 20-something neighbors have lots of gatherings and are invited to many as well. I think as we grow older and have more commitments that friends tend to step out of the entertaining arena. Regardless of our stage in life, my husband reminds me that it’s all about relationships. And for that reason we need to find ways to extend hospitality despite the perceived return on investment. We may have entertained angels unawares…..

    • Sandy replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:35 am

      Diane. Wise words from your husband:

      “Regardless of our stage in life, my husband reminds me that it’s all about relationships. And for that reason we need to find ways to extend hospitality despite the perceived return on investment.”

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    kathy — November 15, 2011 @ 9:44 am

    Hi All,

    I am the original letter writer, and I have gained some very valuable insight from your comments. I do believe that I am burned out, at least as far as hosting a large group of people is concerned. I think Sandy’s advice to mix it up is really helpful. I decided that I would rather do smaller get togethers with different people, and like one of the commenters (or maybe it was Sandy?) said, I can’t worry about so-and-so finding out that I had another couple over for dinner and didn’t invite them. I can always rotate so that everyone is invited. I’m thinking I should throw all of their names in a hat and just pull 2 out at a time and invite those 2 couples over. It might make for some really fun mixing. And my friend who does often reciprocate is having us and another couple over this weekend for Sunday dinner where we will start early and end early so we can all be ready for work on Monday morning. We are each bringing a main dish, and I think that 6 people total will really work out well.

    I didn’t mention that because I grew up with 5 siblings and we lived in a tiny house, my parents NEVER entertained. I think I went the opposite way and may have gone overboard. Hence, the burnout.

    Once again, I really enjoyed reading the comments and I’ve learned alot. Thank you too Sandy for posting my letter and allowing others to offer their insight.

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    Arlene — November 15, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

    Hi Sandy,

    I totally understand your feelings about being the only one to offer to entertain. MY Mom for years has always hosting/entertaining in her home. When I was a little girl, I remembered my Mother and Father always having company over- Drinks flowing, food and card game playing. We always peaked our heads out of the room to see all of the excitment! Well, now my Mom – a widow still likes entertaining; although with some ailments, still likes to cook for her family and friends. For years she’s invited, aside from her immediate family ; cousins, aunts, uncles, neices and nephews, but out of all these people, no-one has offered- except her own children to host or invite her to their homes. Of course, you know how it is; nobody wants to cook or host they just want to be invited- I think it’s a bit selfish. It’s like a catchers mitt; always catching but there’s no thowing back.

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    Camille — November 15, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

    My husband has a long time friend we invited to dinner. He was a work friend so hubby went all out with the best wine, best bakery bread, fresh lobster. The couple came, had a great time, so when they said they would host us in a few weeks, hubby took them seriously. Of course, surprise, surprise, no invitation ever came. Now it is time for their annual holiday party and he does not only not want to go, but states he does not consider them the “great friends” he thought they were. I almost feel guilty for putting us out there like that and the results were that he doesn’t feel the same about this guy and his wife anymore.
    While I find most invitations I receive are of the “pocketbook, Pampered Chef, Tupperware party” variety, I try to remember that line about entertaining angels unaware.

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    Caroline — November 15, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

    That letter hit on a lot of things my husband and I have been feeling lately. We do tons of entertaining and we love it, but it is hard that we very rarely get invited to anyone else’s home. As a military spouse, my husband is gone about half of the time, and it gets difficult when the only time I eat with anyone other than my two young children while he is gone is if I invite people over and do it all myself.
    However, I was so encouraged reading through all of these comments. It’s not about me, it’s about what the Lord can do through me in the lives of those around me. Having expectations of getting anything in return just leads to disappointment because I’m focusing on myself and not on the One worthy of my focus.

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    Mimi — November 17, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    Wow! This post was excellent! I too have felt the same, especially over the last year.

    We were entertaining a small group (rotating friends) at least twice a month and larger groups about every other month. My kids were hosting movie parties every week in the summer. I loved it and our house was always full. I love opening my home. I love feeding people. I love getting together with friends. If you are sick or just had a baby, I’m there to drop off a meal. But eventually you do start to feel worn down and feelings do start to get hurt when you are the only ones ever inviting.

    I’m not saying I want an invite every time I open my home but it would be nice if an invitation was extended every once in awhile. Some have commented that their friends weren’t opening their homes at all. But it does hurt when you know your friends are inviting others (and each other) into their homes and it is never extended to you. It’s funny. Sometimes my friends will even come up to me and say ” Hey you haven’t had us over in awhile, when are you going to invite us over for dinner?” I always want to say ” Well, since you’ve been to my house the last 12 times, maybe it’s your turn.”

    This is a constant battle that goes on in my heart. I know I have been called by God to exercise the gift of hospitality but that doesn’t mean that it is easy. One night I had been up battling my feelings all night. Not just for me but the hurt my kids have felt with the same issue of always being the ones to host and hardly ever being invited back. After a long night of prayer and crying i was getting ready for my day when all of the sudden my phone started blowing up with texts. Our friends (who happen to be one of the families that does reciprocate) had been reading in Proverbs 22 about a generous man, and decided to thank me for always showing hospitality to others. It warmed my heart, made me cry even more and encouraged me so much.

    I have stepped back a little. We still open our home, just not as often and I still take meals over but we mostly spend time with the people who give back. I do miss the constant vibe of people in the home. But if you are only making with-drawls and no deposits are made eventually you have nothing.

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    Cynthia Coffey — November 22, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

    WOW, I needed this! I needed to hear that I wasn’t the only one struggling with a lack of reciprocity among my friends. I entertain alot, and enjoy it. Yet I honestly can not remember the last time someone had us over to THEIR house to eat THEIR food. Seriously. Can’t remember. I was wondering about the A list thing too, as we don’t have one. I invite everyone!
    I think people don’t entertain like they used to, though they’re happy to only receive and never give. My solution has been to only entertain when I truly want to and am happy about it.

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    BECKY — December 16, 2013 @ 10:43 am

    first, i’ll say that i come from the view of the non-entertainer. i don’t enjoy hosting and rarely have people over. my core group of friends consists of 9 ladies and we have had an annual girls sleepover for the past few years. recently, people have been puching for me to host the events, eventhough others are the “party planners” and voulnteer readily to host. i just don’t understand the thought of people inviting others to someone else’s home.
    my suggestion to this letter is if you don’t want to host, then don’t host. it’s a s simple as that.

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