Hosting Lessons Learned from Life on the Road
When we lived in a traditional home having people over for brunch or dinner was something that I loved to do. I loved the planning of the meal, making things look pretty, and the execution of it all (even if many times my perfectionist ways would lead me to being a little stressed in the process). Since we have lived on the road we haven’t entertained on a regular basis but we have successfully entertained. And I have learned a few lessons from hosting without a traditional home that I will take with me as we transition to part-time travelers (more details on that soon!).
Lesson 1 – If you have outdoor space use it – This may be an obvious one but thinking back to life before full-time travel I didn’t make enough use of my outdoor space for entertaining. Almost every time we have had folks over for a meal in the last couple years we have sat outside. Sometimes at a picnic table, sometimes around a fire pit, sometimes a little bit of both. There is no sense in cramping people up inside if you have the space outside. Just make sure you let your guests know in advance that is the plan so they can dress for the weather.
Lesson 2 – Ask other’s to bring things….and I am not just talking food – Before life on the road and my forced, now chosen, more minimalist perspective I had a lot of extra dishes, chairs, table space and things solely for the purpose of entertaining. If you enjoy having these things and have room for them by all means do but if you don’t it doesn’t have to stop you from entertaining. When we started meeting up with other full-time travelers one of the things we noticed is it seemed like the unspoken norm that when you were invited to someone else campsite for a meal you came prepared – water bottle, chairs, a shared dish and even place settings for yourselves seemed pretty automatic. No harm in asking guests that are coming to your house to bring their own place setting or a chair if you don’t have enough. Or anything else for that matter. Be honest when they ask what they can bring.
Lesson 3 – Host somewhere other than your home – Yes, I am serious. I know most people don’t have the opportunity to use someone else’s home as often as we have in our travels but ask a friend to use their home if it’s more conducive to hosting and share the hosting duties. Or consider hosting in a public space such as a potluck at a botanical gardens or a picnic in a park. Be creative and take advantage of places you have available to you outside of your home.
Lesson 4 – Simple can be amazing – You don’t need to go all out with something that has 500 ingredients and a zillion steps and hours to prepare.You don’t have to have a fully decorated table with flowers and candles. This is a reminder for myself as much as it is a tip for whomever is reading this. Living and hosting in very tiny space with two burners and a grill to work with has taught me a lot about how less can definitely be more with everything including food and hosting. Be realistic, don’t over think things and use what you have to your advantage. Simple equals less stress.
Lesson 5 – Say goodbye to your perfectionism (or at least try!) – Hosting isn’t about putting on the perfect magazine worthy event. It’s about friendship, conversation and building community – not how good your dessert turned out or if your table setting is the most beautiful one your guests have seen. Even if you take pleasure in creating those things remind yourself what truly matters. And laugh about the mishaps.