I wasn’t born a hostess. The idea of inviting people over to my home, whether planned in advance or on a whim, isn’t a natural inclination of mine. In fact, knowing people are coming over usually fills me with a sense of dread and wet underarms. The predictable swarm of anxious questions would buzz into my ear while I frenzy cleaned:

Oh my gosh, what if the house has a weird smell I’m not aware of? How the heck do you style a charcuterie board? Why did I think it’d be easy? What if the house looks too messy? Or, alternately, what if the house looks too meticulous and people think I’m trying too hard to impress them? I don’t want to come off as uptight.

You see what I mean? No one wants to be swapping brains with me right before company arrives, believe me. And let’s be realistic, here. I know enough about being a human person that nobody is going to walk into my home and immediately start tracing a white-gloved finger over my baseboards or inspecting the organizational gravitas of my pantry. That’s just not normal behavior. And I know that, rationally. But pre-hosting me is simply not a logical creature. I’m a mess.

RELATED: I’ll Never Have a Perfect Home, But I’ll Always Have An Open Door

Or I should say, I used to be a mess about hosting. And then I did something radical. And frankly, I tried something pretty dang risky. I started making a conscious effort to invite people over more often. I decided to train myself to feel like a more natural hostess. It was like I reverse psychology-ied myself. And the craziest part? It worked.

Hostessing is like any habit. It can be built and instilled with practice. I didn’t want to live in a world where I was afraid of inviting people over, and I certainly didn’t want to wait until my home was perfect enough to display. Because guess what? Our homes aren’t precious masterpieces hanging in some snooty art gallery, they’re tools to provide our family with safety and security. Homes aren’t meant to be curated, they’re meant to be shared.

So I stopped worrying about the look of my home and instead started to focus on its feel. I began to notice things that made me feel welcomed and cozy in the houses of others: plenty of throw blankets to share, a nice candle or diffuser, a host who was chill and just genuinely happy to see me. Those were the things I focused on, and they made all the difference.

Remember KISSkeep it simple, stupid? Yeah, that totally applies to hosting. I’d invite the neighbors over with their kids and order pizza. I encouraged our weekly Hike it Baby group to gather at my house for lunch after our walk. Inviting my kids’ friends and their parents soon became no biggie after a few weeks of getting more used to the idea of simple hosting. Before long I was welcoming my husband’s family over every Sunday for a standing dinner invitation. And when a few of us launched a women’s group at church, I wasn’t even surprised when typing my address as the first meeting location. It didn’t need to be stressful anymore, because it had become a habit to open my home to others.

RELATED: Just Come Over: The Art of Gritty Hospitality

Because here’s the thing, friend. It’s not about the decorations of your home, or your charcuterie mastery (believe me, my charcuterie skills are weak). The people in your life who care about you, just want to be invited into your life. And whether that means a bonfire in the backyard or a festive, themed night or whatever your family would normally be doing anyway, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is inviting people into your heart, by inviting them into your home.

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Brianna Baranowski

Brianna Baranowski is a California girl loving the Iowa way of life! She is a boy mom who thrives on authentic and honest connection. Brianna is a writer, naturalist, and former teacher.

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