Messy Hospitality

On Sunday, we held a housewarming party, exactly one week after we moved in. We did it partly to ensure boxes would have to be unpacked (at least on the main floor) but mostly because when we bought this house, we wanted it to be a space we could fill with friends and food and hospitality.

At our old house, we didn’t let its size stop us from having people over. But, our dining room table fit six snugly around it and there wasn’t much room to spread. We mainly hosted bigger gatherings during the summer when we could move everyone outside. When we started looking for a new place, we intentionally looked for larger living spaces: Where we could sit comfortably around a large dining room table, have the kids close by, and open our home to anyone.

We found that in our new house: We have designated spaces, but we turned the formal dining room into Bea’s playroom so it’s at the center of the house. The previous owners had a large farmhouse table custom built for the space, and we were able to buy it from them. We instantly saw ourselves entertaining both small dinners and larger gatherings.

Because our intention was to open our home, we decided the best way to inaugurate that vision was to have a housewarming as soon as possible. With the holidays, one week from move-in seemed the best date. Around Thursday, I began questioning my sanity, but by Sunday our main level was unpacked and our friends were warned about the scattered boxes in our bedrooms.

Our party wasn’t something out of Sunset or Martha Stewart, though my mom spent the week leading up baking family favorite Christmas cookies. We bought appetizers in bulk from Costco and there were no cute decorations aside from our small Christmas collection. (What filled our old house completely now looks small on our mantle here.) Frank spent the morning making the Silver Palette’s Chili for a Crowd, and people were invited to throw their coats anywhere and give self-guided tours.

10 lbs of meat!
10 lbs of meat in that pot!

Some close friends came early to help with prep and soon our new home was filled with laughter, screaming children running through the halls, and the laid-back coziness we longed for. No one noticed that our bookshelves weren’t organized and staged; no one commented on the boxes upstairs or the fact that we have camp chairs instead of a couch in front of our TV.

I loved that our first party was messy and imperfect. That we threw it because we wanted our house filled with friends, not because we were showing off our beautiful decorating skills. I hope that it sets the precedent for future gatherings, no matter the size. That we can invite friends over for take-out pizza or a complex homemade meal and the point is community. I want this space to be a place where people are comfortable and where we can value conversation and laughter over presentation and style.

In this week leading up to Christmas, I want to keep that in mind. That the wrapping and perfect gift, while amazing to find, are not the point. The point of this is the thoughtfulness and love behind the presents and time together.

I hope your holidays are messy, imperfectly perfect, and filled with laughter and family!

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5 thoughts on “Messy Hospitality

  1. Your vision of your new house as a center for love, friends and family certainly came into being on Sunday. It was perfect in every way. I am so glad I was there.

  2. How wonderful! See, that’s what hospitality is all about. Makes me think of my late friend Helen. She said her motto was, “If you’ve come to see me, come right on in. If you’ve come to see my house, call for an appointment.”

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