I love hosting things at our house. Finally, I have a place that is large, that is interesting, that has no room that I don’t let people see because I use it to stash the excess from the others. We have balconies, and a sweep of sky off the biggest that puts most places in town to shame. If I had more money, I would have the kind of dinner parties I’ve seen in magazines, or on the blogs of people I don’t know but who are much more worldly than I—dinner parties with thousands of tiny lights or baubles hung painstakingly from ceilings, where each course looks like an award winning dish from a five star restaurant, where there is wine and laughter and a beautifully decorated table.
Before I manage that, though, I have to learn the art of being welcoming, of setting people at ease and getting them talking, of obtaining drinks just when people want them without being obtrusive, of having the right amount and variety of food. That’s definitely a “learned” thing, and I didn’t have a mother who hosted well to teach me. When she hosted—which was ages ago—the food was always delicious, but she was tense to the point of awkwardness, and lord knows she always talked to fill any silence anyone might have thought to have (“It seems to me you suffer from what we call ‘pressure of speech’”). I remember being very small and my parents rushing around the house in preparation for some event, vacuuming hurriedly, hiding various things in places people wouldn’t see (the laundry room). It’s partially because of that that one of my goals is to have no closet I’d be concerned about a guest looking in. Plus there is something entirely satisfying about a well-organized storage space—and once it’s organized, it takes very little maintenance.
So I practice on my writing group (to whom I will, of course, read this once I am done). I am the de facto host as our numbers have increased, and I am grateful for the obligatory nature of it—for one thing, it means that at least every three weeks, my house will be clean. (Note to self: next time, clean the day before). Also, because the time is fairly structured, I don’t have to worry about coming up with entertainment.
Perhaps I will have a Christmas party—or New Year’s—wind twinkle lights up and down the trees in the backyard and the front courtyard, have cocktails and cheesecake and a huge Christmas tree downstairs, invite everyone we know.