5 golden rules of coming over to someone's house for a meal
I can't quite decide if I'm an introvert, or extrovert. I can happily be by myself but I do also like having a good natter with friends. Because of that we invite people over to our house for a meal quite a lot. Admittedly I'm a bit of a stress-head and always get in arguments with Sam (the husband) before people arrive over what I call 'the prorities' (mine is making sure the areas where we'll be during this time is clean; kitchen, dining room, toilets, hallway and tv room. His is something random like mowing the garden because it'll look nice, or going to the skip beforehand to clear the space). Either way, it's a good excuse to clean and we always end up having a good time. Sometimes there are awkward moments (a blog for another time), so here are what I always try to follow when people invite us over to theirs.
1. Offer to bring dessert
It's not expected for you to bring a dessert but it's a really nice way to help out so your host can focus on the meal. Don't let it stress you if you aren't a keen baker. You will not be judged for getting something from the shops. If you don't like cakes, how about bringing a cheese board, or some flowers (the bottle of wine goes without saying though ya).
2. Try not to be late but NEVER arrive early
I thought I followed this rule, until last weekend when I arrived at a baby shower at 11.30am and found out it was actually at 2pm! (I was very apologetic and went straight into the kitchen to make sandwiches. I may never be invited over to that friend's house again).
At my house, every time we have people over we are frantically cleaning - right up to the wire. So when people are early, they see me in my pyjamas, mismatched socks and no make-up... not good.
If you are going to be late though, always let your host know because they might be juggling with cooking times and trying to keep everything warm.
3. Find something nice (and genuine) to say
You can call it small-talk but it's so important to appreciate your host. If you find chit-chat difficult, start with 'Thanks so much for inviting us over. How are things with you and the kids/dog/cat?' That buys you some time to notice your host and the surrounding. Pick out something (no matter how small) and mention it. Here are some options:
- Something about the meal: The food smells lovely...
- Your host: I like your necklace/blouse/ring/makeup/hair...
- The house: Love the space, Garden looks great, Your house has a nice vibe...
- Other small details you notice around the house: Great colour choice of paint (ignore handprints if they have kids), Nice picture/painting/artwork, Pretty decoration...
4. Ask questions
There is nothing more awkward than having a one-sided conversation. I think for us (the girls) it's much easier because there's a big chance you've arrange the meal and you know the other person. It's slightly more tricky for the guys because sometimes it's their first meeting. If you know this is going to happen, prep your bloke beforehand. Give them a run-down of who's who and remind him to ask questions!
5. Thank them afterwards and if possible return the favour
We hosted a bbq recently and it was one of the best get-together's we've had. I didn't feel like I needed to look after anyone as everyone chatted, no-one was in a corner, we all happily ignored the kids after we'd fed them. And I was pleasantly surprised when they all followed it up with a thanks AFTER they had left. It's now a golden rule of mine to remember to text or send a card afterwards to thank the host. A simple gesture to let them know you appreciated their effort.
You can also follow it up with asking them to come over to yours. If there is something stopping you from doing it (apart from you realising you don't like them), you need to bite the bullet and do it. Nobody minds a messy house or an easy meal, like pasta or pizza. People just want a break from cooking and being in their house with the kids driving them mad, and people do want to hang out with you. Go for it, and see that it feels nice to be social.
Is there anything I've missed? Let me know by leaving a comment.
*Cheeseboard and 'Ask more questions' image taken from Pinterest
Thank-you illustration taken from Ella Bailey
Watch illustration taken from Alice Potter
Be Nice pin by Veronica Dearly