As holidays approach, avoid “hospitality burnout”

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A Cry for Help–I Don’t Want to Entertainer Over the Holidays
by Sandy Coughlin
The Reluctant Entertainer

The holidays are here, whether we like it or not. November is the month we start planning, getting dates on the calendar, inviting, thinking up menus, cooking, getting our houses ready for the holidays.

Are you excited or do you already feel burned out … and the festivities haven’t even begun?

A long-time follower of RE recently wrote to me, and in true honesty, I thanked her for being real. Real, because I know many of us dread the holidays and have the exact same feelings.

I’m not a reluctant entertainer by any means; in fact, I regularly offer to host gatherings at my house and throw a couple of big parties each year. However, I am frustrated.

I feel that in our group of friends, I am the ONLY one who actually hosts people. It seems as though everyone else has one excuse or another as to why they can’t have people over. So as a result, I am the one putting out quite a bit of money and time to host people, and I feel as though I receive nothing in return. I understand that the payoff for me should be that everyone has a great time, and I am happy when they do, but it’d be nice to not have to cram a lot of people into my smallish house once in awhile and deal with the setup, cleanup, and aftermath of spending a few hundred dollars to entertain.

Much of my frustration came about recently when I hosted a party. I didn’t get a chance to mingle as much as I had wanted and I ended up not enjoying myself at all–to the point where I’m not doing this again next year. Even with small get-togethers, we are friends with only one couple that reciprocates at all when it comes to entertaining. It’s nice to not have to do most of the work sometimes and to feel appreciated when we are invited to someone else’s house. But with most of our friends, we are either going out to a restaurant or meeting up at my house.

My husband and I wonder, are we just not on the “A” list and maybe some of our friends really are entertaining and they just don’t invite us? I don’t know how to reconcile my feelings about all of this. As we come upon the holiday season, I’d love to have a few couples over but then again, I don’t feel as though it should be up to me to host ALL THE TIME if we want to see each other. Ironically, my house is the smallest of all in our circle of friends, yet I’m always the hostess.

What do you think? Do I just need to get over myself and be grateful that people like to come to my house and that they end up having a good time, or am I a little justified in not wanting to always put out the expense and the work it takes to be a good hostess? Or is it something else all together?

I think people are just not entertaining like they should. I doubt there is an A list. I know people have judged me for having an A list, when in reality sometimes we just want to invite people over who inspire and lift others up, who are encouraging and know how to have a fun time. The other thing about A or B lists is that, in our minds, we build traditions. As in, this group comes together, and the next time, the same people should be invited.

I like to mix it up. That is what hospitality is all about. And it’s always rewarding to invite new people over. Life is about growing, building new relationships, expanding our horizons, and getting to know new people and what they are about.

It’s inspiring to invite new people over. It’s also comfortable to invite long-time friends over.

Signs of entertaining burnout:

  • You did not enjoy yourself when the guests left
  • You did too much
  • You didn’t delegate any of the dishes
  • You didn’t have a good attitude
  • You didn’t include your spouse’s opinion in the first place. Was he/she on board?
  • You’re resentful of the money spent
  • You’re resentful of no reciprocation
  • You’re inviting out of obligation, not because you want to form new relationships or stronger bonds

There’s nothing worse than bad feelings when you shut the door after the last guest leaves.

I could be judged on this answer, but make sure that if you’re feeling burn-out, the next time you should simplify, invite people you really want to be with, delegate so you don’t have to do it all, and that you do a heart check (again, my husband is my barometer).

The last time you entertained, how did you feel when your guests left?