Make the Table Bigger

Our seven year old piped up one day recently, “Mom, when are we going to have people over for dinner again? You know, make the table bigger!”

She meant it literally. Our table has two leaves that fold out to extend the table from seating for eight (our usual) to ten or twelve. (Or more if we squeeze!)

It had been longer than we intended since we had people over. We’d had a rough summer. And a busy fall.

We were in hunker down mode for a large part of the year. (Even cutting out birthday parties, for the most part.)

It had been too long since we’d made the table bigger.

My fellow moms and wives, how can we make the table bigger?

make the table bigger

1. Maintain routines that help with homemaking

You know the faults and foibles of your house. I know where the floors don’t quite meet the trim properly. (Our DIY-ing skills grew while we worked on our house. I still see the mistakes sometimes.)

You know the closets that would be safer not to open. Or that your daughter’s idea of “cleaning” is “stuff everything under her bed.”

You know and you care, but your friends probably won’t.

So with that in mind:

Sweep the most obvious crumbs.

Mop the stickiest spots.

Clear a hook so your friend can hang up her coat and purse.

Stop dusting those knick-knacks you never really loved and give them away to someone who does.

Have a routine for cleaning your bathrooms once a week.

Try to keep the laundry monster under control.

2. Understand that true hospitality isn’t the same thing as entertaining

Subtitle for this point: I blame Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart, with a lot more money at her disposal and a whole lot more staff, made a career of telling us how we should be cooking, cleaning, decorating, and entertaining. You and I are not Martha Stewart, and we were never meant to be.

Do your best. Make a flower arrangement if that makes you happy. Fold your napkins in fun shapes if you enjoy it. Serve your favorite recipe (even if part of it comes ready-made from the grocery store).

Having people over and enjoying conversation and food does not require planning activities for everyone. Crafts aren’t required. You don’t have to have thematic decorations (unless you want to).

You don’t have to invite everyone you know all at once. (Unless that sounds like fun to you.)

3.Accept help (and reality)

Encourage your guests to contribute. They’re sure to ask, “What can we bring?” Suggest something!

I think pride and fear get in the way of making the table bigger. We’re afraid of having our homes judged.

It would be great if people thought we “had it all together”. Wouldn’t it be nice to remember every food foible in your friends? (“She doesn’t eat meat. He’s on a low sodium diet. She can’t stand mushrooms. He won’t eat sweet potatoes…”)

Newsflash: you are not perfect. Your home is not perfect. The dinner may not be perfect.

But that doesn’t mean it was a bad idea to make the table bigger and have some friends over. Don’t let imperfection get in the way of relationships.

Your friends won’t be giving your house the white glove treatment. (And if they do: time to make some new friends.)

4. Think outside the walls of your house.

Could you host a picnic at the park?

Or plan to meet up at Chick Fil A so the kids can get the sillies out in the play place (and you moms can indulge in a sweet tea)?

Maybe you can provide Kool-Aid and animal crackers to the kids who play in your yard?

5.Avoid All or Nothing Thinking.

Maybe a dinner party isn’t in the cards right now. How about sharing tea or coffee? What about inviting friends to come over just for dessert? Roasting marshmallows in your firepit?

And here’s a secret: you don’t actually have to have a big table. Folding trays can work. A blanket spread on the floor can work. Coffee tables surrounded with cushions large enough to sit on can work.

You are only limited by your preconceptions.

Matching china is not required. Silver is not required. Vintage table linens and candles are not required.

Those things are lovely, of course. And it’s good to share things we love with people we love (or enjoy). But they’re just things. And they’re not mandatory.

I don’t know the season you’re in. And I understand feeling overwhelmed with the thought of “one more thing.”

I also know that loneliness can sometimes be self inflicted. Sometimes perfectionism triumphs fellowship.

I’m not lecturing you: I’m preaching to myself.

Maybe it’s time to make the table bigger.

Simplified Organization

make the table bigger: hospitality

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  1. I love making the table bigger for my grandchildren (and their parents). The grandchildren don’t judge the mess – they make it – and their parents grew up with me as their mom so they already know my housekeeping skills, or lack thereof.