Mom, The Gracious Hostess

In recognition of my Mom’s birthday today, this post is dedicated to her…

I have realized that any foundation I have for being a successful hostess is thanks to my Mom, because she is the best.  We have a large immediate and extended family.  Gatherings for our immediate family regularly average about 15 people and extended family gatherings up to 40+ people.  Mom has played the part of hostess for everything from Holiday dinners of every sort, to graduation parties and even picnics served out of the back of their SUV for our family canoe & tubing trips.  Even on a whim for  a regular evening meal, she has always been willing to make accommodations for extra last-minute friends or family members.  Mom exemplifies the concept of  “the more the merrier” mentality and embodies what it means is to be a gracious hostess.

What stands out in my mind more than anything else is that she never seems overwhelmed or stressed by the task of hosting, and I believe this comes from her approach.   Mom never sat me down to teach or instruct me how to bee a good hostess.  However, through observation I have learned a great deal from her…

Plan & prep ahead:  I think this is of the utmost importance.  Mom is a list maker (so thankful I got that from her) and she starts by making a list of what she plans on serving and then follows with a grocery list for ingredients needed.  She starts this process sometimes weeks in advance, and usually shops at least a few days in advance so everything is on hand.  Mom does any prep work possible before the day of the meal of the event.   This may include browning meat, chopping vegetables, baking cookies, etc.  The more that can be done ahead of time the better, this helps cut down on the potential of any last minute stress.

Keep it simple: Everything Mom serves is delicious without having to be too fancy or complicated.  She makes a point to have a variety of things so that every person will have something they will like.  Depending on the meal, she usually has a mix of sweet & savory dishes, and incorporates fruits & veggies whenever possible.   Due to the size of our family, the most practical way to serve such a large group is usually to have a buffet full of things that can be dished out & enjoyed easily.  An added benefit to serving buffet style is that once everything is set out everyone can serve themselves and she can enjoy time visiting with everyone.

Details make a difference:  Even for a buffet style meal like mentioned above, Mom doesn’t forget the details.  She still serves on nice trays and dishes and also coordinates matching paper products to fit the occasion.  These may seem like small gestures but they add a special touch that doesn’t go unnoticed.

Remember favorites/allergies:  There are certain family favorites that Mom includes time and again, and they have become tradition.  (Some of ours include Grace’s jello salad & cheese-ball, monster cookies, Dad’s rolls, haystacks, etc.)  Also, she makes minor adjustments to certain dishes due to a food allergy in our family so no one has to miss out.

Enlist help when needed/available:  Mom always found a way to involve me when I wanted to help.  She would have me set the table or arrange the cookie display, anything I could handle.  Dad has also always been more than willing to help shred, chop, stir where needed.   Let me just say, he is an equally admirable host.  The two of them operate like a well-oiled machine  when it comes to serving large groups.

I wholeheartedly believe that my love for entertaining and striving to be a good hostess, stems from my Mom.  She makes it seem effortless, even when I know it is not, and truly enjoys herself and her family in the process.   Enjoying each other is really what it is all about, and we appreciate her for always making it special.

Happy Birthday Mom, Love you lots!

snacks brunchspread

A few pictures I had on my phone from past family gatherings

Etsy Obsession

Perhaps obsession is a strong word…but when it comes to online shopping, especially for my home, there is one site that I consistently return to more than any other.  At the very top of my list for online shopping sites is…Etsy.  I have purchased so many wonderful things on Etsy including: jewelry, clothes, gifts, wall art, pillow covers, a window valance, a dog collar, soaps, and I’m sure that I’m missing plenty of other goodies.  It is a great resource for both ready-made and custom products that you won’t find anywhere else.

Discover items you can’t find anywhere else

For those of you that have never heard of or just aren’t familiar with Etsy…it is an online marketplace on which you can purchase a wide array of handmade and unique items directly from the designers, artisans and craftsmen that create these items around the country and the world.  These sellers set up their online shops through Etsy.   You can add items to your cart from different shops and checkout all at one time.  Most shops accept major credit cards and PayPal, I have not encountered any shops that don’t.

Shop directly from people around the world

My “favorites” list consistently has at least 100+ items on it at all time, and probably 25+ shops.  I can honestly say I have been satisfied with each and every one of my Etsy purchases to this point, and don’t foresee that changing.  The quality and selection of handmade items on Etsy is unbeatable.   I have experienced great communication with shop owners and the transactions couldn’t be easier.   The best part about shopping on Etsy is that you can get one of a kind and custom items that you can’t find at any local stores.

Below is just small sampling of both ready-made and customized products that I have purchased for our home on Etsy.


Peacock

Peacock Canvas Print (11×14) from Carolyn Cochrane Fine Art Photography

Visit Shop Here

laundry sign

Smoky Green Wood (5.5×12) Laundry Sign from The Sign Factory

Visit Shop Here

welcome pillow

Burlap Bench Pillow (80×28) from Take Flyte Farm

(Customized with special font/text color request different from above)

Visit Shop Here

Pillows

 Ikat Pillow Covers from Castaway Cove Decor

(2 Custom sizes in bottom 2 fabric choices)

Visit Shop Here

soap

Fresh Linen Mini Soaps from Ginger Grey Soaps

(I also purchased their Milk & Honey and Gray Skies Mini Soaps)

Visit Shop Here


 Go check out Etsy today to see what treasures you may find!

*I am not affiliated with Etsy or any of the listed shops, just a big fan!*