Things Don’t Have to be Perfect!

When we strive to make hospitality perfect instead of excellent, we isolate ourselves from others. – The RE

I laughed at my own quote from my book the other night, as guests were coming to dinner. I had set the table, placed the ironed napkins on the left side of the dinner plate, and as I was setting down the forks, one lonely napkin stood out.

It was different.

The stripe was actually ironed the opposite way than the rest.

But who would even know?

I moved on to finish setting the table, but later as I walked by, I noticed it again.

Part of the of noticing was to remind myself that things do not have to be perfect.

My goal is to strive toward excellence … to do my very best, make my table pretty, and give my all to my guests when I entertain.

But perfect?

Did you know that kids don’t start out in life being perfectionists? They learn from us!

My daughter and I laughed together as we were mingling by the table. She glanced at the imperfectly ironed napkin and said, Oh, great, Mom. (She was my little ironer!) And that’s when I took the opportunity to say, Baby, it’s so fine. Things don’t have to be perfect all the time!

I know this is a simple observation today, but it’s perfect for the week ahead. How many people will be entertaining and getting flustered over certain things either not turning out or being perfect?

Success is defined when we can laugh, relate, engage, and see beyond ourselves.

Will you keep this motto in mind this next Christmas week?

19 comments on “Things Don’t Have to be Perfect!”

  1. Next time she ought to go halves on the stripes direction and add some extra whimsey! :)

  2. Thanks for the reminder! I needed to read this today as am getting a wee bit nervous and anxious about a neighborhood gathering at my house on Sat night!

    Happy Weekend to you and your family, especially the little ironer! :)

  3. Great advice today as many of us are getting ready to entertain. It’s not about things being perfect, it’s the time we share together.

    I’ll bet nobody noticed your stripes!

  4. Your one napkin reminds be of the Japanese saying. Wabi sabi. Perfect imperfection, All life should have a little wabi sabi – keeps things interesting.


  5. I will, I will! Thank you so much for the reminder…and for the little visual that punctuates it!

  6. Oh, so funny–maybe you should say that the motto is “excellent” for the week ahead instead of “perfect”! You’re so very, very right. Jack and I were talking just yesterday about the perfect being the enemy of the good. I’ve spent a lot of my life chasing the ever-elusive perfect, and in the process I’ve missed out on the many blessings of the good! Thank you for a timely reminder. :)

  7. Funny how that happens…..most people don’t even notice, and it’s good when we can make light of things not perfect. Kathy

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you! If ever there was a woman who needed to receive this little reminder…it would be ME! I have become much better (and more forgiving of myself) as years go on but, sometimes I still have those moments—I get hyper-critical of things NO ONE is ever going to notice (unless I point it out!). I think it is partly because I love the details. But I need to stop and ask myself what my friends and family enjoy the most when they come to our home — the details or spending time together? Thank you again for helping me remember what I do know in my heart.

  9. I am trying to remember your voice today as I go about getting ready for tonight. You have said this before – we don’t have to have everything perfect. I am trying not to stress my self out as we get ready to have a large group over for dinner before we make sack lunches to be distributed to the homeless tomorrow morning. Our church does this once a month and I volunteered for this month. My house is not perfect (I let my kids decorate the tree this year all by themselves, to their delight); when people have asked what can they bring I have asked them to bring something that was needed for the dinner menu and they all were so happy to do so; I do not want to e the crazy Mom today and then be the sweet and kind host when I open the door to welcome our friends; and I have asked them all to linger and stay afterwards so we can visit and enjoy each others fellowship. Because it is about my guests tonight, not about me and my perfectionist ways.

  10. Great reminder, Sandy.

  11. I’m holding on to this in the upcoming week. Trying to focus on the people instead of the stuff and things and unimportant details that always fluster me. Hugs to you and yours!

  12. Hey Sandy!

    I had a major breakthrough last weekend. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, hearing the mantra “it doesn’t have to be perfect” from both you and the Nester. Last weekend i hostessed a dinner party. The dinner, the decorations and the meal were *wonderful.* Those things were planned to a tee. The house was cleaned spick and span.


    The Christmas tree stood undecorated, with lights 3/4 of the way down it because three of the strands I had from last year decided not to work. As a result, the ornaments lay strewn across my desk. In another room, all the Christmas presents I had bought were sitting in a milk crate and boxes. Two of the seven rooms in this precious cottage were not perfect, and oh, did I struggle. However, I got to a point where I made the conscious decision: it was ok to not be perfect. It was ok to leave the room with the gifts open because a couple of friends who had never been to my house would want to see it. It was ok to have the sunroom (where I put my tree) messy. It truly was.

    Know what? The party was a smashing success. Everyone had a ball and my imperfections did not bother anyone a bit.

    Thanks for the encouragement and good words!

  13. I’m having my neighborhood girls over tonight, void of kids and husbands, and here i am wasting time on the computer. But it’s ok. The house is pretty clean, not perfect. Everything was prepped over the last few days, but most of all…i don’t think they care. I think the most they care about is spending time together – i’ve gotten so many emails this week saying that they just can’t wait to just stop.sit. and visit. with nowhere to be but here. And i happen to love that the most.

  14. I love this! I spent the last two days preparing for our daughter’s graduation party, to be held tonight. There were moments when I thought, “I am never going to get this done”…especially when the oven started smoking while baking the very FIRST thing! (hubby forgot to clean it out after a messy dinner spill, and I was in such a rush I didn’t notice before placing the cake in). But, the baking got done and the house is “clean enough”…looks like rain, so why mop floors when they will most likely get wet with footprints of those coming and going. We made things easy and simple…it’s about enjoying our time celebrating our daughter’s accomplishemnts with friends, not how perfect the food is, or how clean and decorated the house is.

  15. Cute story- – at our last dinner party I noticed half way through that I had two different silver shoes on…..everyone notice but didn’t say anything until I busted out laughing…..they all thought I knew and was just going with the flow.
    Such is my life right now.
    Merry Christmas

  16. I know that I need to put away the notion of perfection but it keeps nagging in the back of my mind. But as you so perfectly said, it’s isolating. I’ll do my best…!

  17. Such pretty dishes!
    sandy toe

  18. I always come to your blog right before entertaining to get my self in check!!!! Merry Christmas Sandy!!!

  19. Uh oh – this is my error…. I don’t entertain because it isn’t “PERFECT” like my sisters’ houses. This convicted me today! You know, I probably would have re-ironed the napkin. >.<

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