Excuses, Excuses

“Others have excuses; I have my reasons why” Nickel Creek

Most of us would rather have a once-a-year open house than a year-round open-door policy. Here are some of the excuses I’ve used or heard over the years:

1. It’s too hard when you have small children How about inviting the single mom you met at the park over for coffee while the kids play? A noisy family dinner would be comforting to a homesick college student or the widow down the street. Get your kids involved; hand the youngest a dust rag and let the older ones set the table and pass out the food. You’ll have help and they’ll be learning about hospitality.

2. It costs too much Focus on making friends rather than making a mess in your kitchen; food isn’t the only way to connect with people. Try planning activities instead of menus: ask a new friend to join you on a walking tour of a never-explored part of the city, invite another family to the park and bring along a thermos of hot or cold drinks. Have a game night; you provide the beverages and ask guests to bring chips and dips. Get creative.

3. My house is too: small, old, funky Trust me, nobody notices the imperfections but you. Before we had a dining room table, our guests ate on TV trays beside the fireplace and they still talk about how much fun they had. Accept where you are and have fun; your company will be thrilled that you thought of them.

4. I can’t cook Perfect one or two recipes and make them your signature dish. Once people find out you make the best pound cake in the neighborhood, you’ll gain the confidence you need to branch out. Or simply learn to prepare a great cup of coffee and make your kitchen table available to someone who needs to talk.

5. I’m too busy If you truly want to have an “open door” policy, you may have to sacrifice something to create space in your schedule as well as in your heart. People tend to invest in what they value. What’s important to you?

6. If I can’t do it right, I’m not doing it You may need to evaluate what “doing it right” means to you. What preconceived notions and “have-to’s” are holding you back? Try “just doing it” rather than obsessing about doing it perfectly. 

Risky business

It’s definitely risky to open your door and let others see you just as you are – but it’s worth it. Sometimes I still get overzealous and run around the kitchen like a madwoman, but as long as I can laugh at myself, my guests laugh, too. And that’s all I care about. No more excuses! 

THE LAST COURSE: Need more inspiration? Here are a few of my favorite quotes about hospitality:

  • When hospitality becomes an art, it loses its very soul.” Max Beerbohm. Don’t neglect your creativity; instead use it to create an atmosphere conducive to being present with your guests.
  • “Let not the emphasis of hospitality lie in bed and board; but let truth and love and honor and courtesy flow in all thy deeds.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. Sheets not 1,000 thread count? Serving leftovers? Hospitality ultimately requires a shift in focus.
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