Forgive me followers, for I have sinned. It's been 545 days since my last blog entry. When I started this blog, it was my mission to create a DIY blog that was more transparent and showed the failures with the successes. The mess in the background with the beautiful curated spaces. And I have failed you with that. I listened to the voices in my head worried about not having content, photos, or ideas that were good enough. So I talked myself out of posting in fear of the rejection and eye rolls. Well that ends now.
I have had the photos ready for this blog and all of the witty comments queued up in my brain for this post for over a week. I kept putting it off because I was "busy" with other things. Sometimes life has a funny way of kicking you in the pants to get something done. That something happened to me yesterday. So here we are...
Since we bought our house ten years ago, having gatherings of friends and family are something that bring joy to our home. I love mingling with friends from different avenues of life and bringing them together. We started with Thirsty Thursdays (pre-kids) and after several years of that we switched to Weekend Brunches. Recently, it seems everyone's schedules just don't quite mesh and weekends became more and more difficult to try to get everyone together. Everyone is out of town or has a million events or things to do. It's just that season of life. Some are raising their kids, others are raising their parents or grandparents, plus a demanding work load. Mid-life is a pretty tough season of life. I started realizing that we were leaving too many moments on the table. It's so easy to not pick up the phone or to keep the blinders on and feel like every day is just putting one foot in front of the other. That is when the idea of Family Dinners was born. We changed from the weekend to a weekday evening. Come as you are. Bring your kids. Let's just take a little time to spend it together, laugh and share some moments. This month was the second month of doing it, and I can't hardly wait for July.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, that's a lot of pressure to host a lot of events yourself regularly. From cleaning house, to the grocery store, cooking, flowers, drinks... the list seems to go on. It can feel daunting. Want to know what I've done to make it less stressful and more enjoyable?
Here are my top SEVEN pro-tips to have a successful Family Dinner:
I LOVE this invitation app! It has great graphics and is easy to use. There's a free version and a paid version. The thing I love most about it, is that it's NOT a group text. It also sends reminders, maps out the location and doesn't require everyone to download the app if they don't want to. Updates are sent via text. There are so many of our friends that are no longer on Facebook or Instagram. When I came across this (thanks to my sister-in-law), I was sold.
2. BYOB & Pot Luck It
Yea, you heard me right. Repeat after me... you DON'T have to do it all!
After years of thinking that I needed to make all of the food and have everything a certain way, I found myself over stressing and not being able to enjoy the people that were there. And let's not forget how expensive it can get to feed and water everyone! Friends would ask what they could bring and I never knew what to tell them, so I would do it all.
I finally got to the point to just ask everyone to bring something to share and whatever they want to drink. Sometimes we do a theme like Mexican, appetizers, breakfast food, etc. And guess what? It's been way more enjoyable and I get to hang out with everyone. The food has been amazing and everyone is swapping recipes.
Also, don't knock picking something up at the grocery store already made. Or picking up a tray of Chick-fil-a nuggets! Pro-tip: Sam's now sells Southern Chicken Bites that are like Chick-fil-a but BETTER! And they are $10 for a 3-pound bag. See what I mean? Don't forget the Walmart brand Chicken Dipping Sauce while you're at it (It's just like the Chick-fil-a sauce)! Come as you are. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just put it on a fancy plate and call it a day.
3. Keep a Stockpile of Cute Napkins & Plates
I like to go to Sam's or Target and buy a big pack of cute plates. I'm always picking up witty cocktail napkins or cute cups on clearance to have on hand so that I'm not running around. I even store it in my china hutch with the fine china. Pinkies up!
4. Grab the Flowers on Special at the Grocery Store
Get the 3/$12 or the small already made arrangements. Put them in a mason jar or two with a small drop of dish soap and some super old pennies to keep them fresh so you can enjoy them the rest of the week yourself!
5. Break Out the Tunes
We love playing our record collection and have friends who are also into vinyl. We are often sharing records and showing our latest finds. Don't have a turntable? There's nothing wrong with cranking up Spotify or Pandora. Music always sets the tone and the mood. It's a must!
6. Keep Kid Goodies Around
We usually have a stockpile of bubble wands, sidewalk chalk, frisbees and other simple things to keep the kiddos entertained. We often bring the Hot Wheels outside and set up a cool track or drag out the costume trunk for the kids to entertain themselves and just be kids. If the kids are having fun, it's a lot easier for the adults to have a breather and enjoy themselves, too!
7. Change Up the Location
If you're still stressing over hosting each time, take turns hosting! Have everyone meet at the park one week and let the kids play while you hang out. Remember, we are keeping it simple!
I've been so thankful that we said yes to hosting Family Dinner the last two months. It's brought us back in touch with our friends that we haven't been able to spend much time with. Remember I said this blog had a purpose? One of our dear friends came to our last two Family Dinners and brought her kids. The kids had so much fun together and we shared a lot of laughs with her. Our last Family dinner was Wednesday the 19th. It breaks my heart to say that was the last time I will see her. She died unexpectedly yesterday leaving behind her husband and kids. Even though we would share funny memes or things that we saw throughout the day, without those Family Dinners, we would have been robbed of more moments.
Friends, check on each other. Make time for each other. Because unfortunately, tomorrow isn't promised. Dave Matthew said it best, "Celebrate we will 'cause life is short but sweet for certain." So don't worry about it not being perfect or blog worthy. Just show up to Family Dinner.
Susan, this one is for you. Thank you for your friendship and the laughs. You were truly one of a kind. You will be greatly missed, my friend! See you on the other side.