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(in)courage is a virtual living room where we build community, celebrate diversity, and become women of courage.

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  1. My tip is to not stress having the perfect home etc., no one will be paying to whether or not your shelves are dusted or not! Just remember this is about spending time in fellowship together!

  2. Relax! The stress of getting everything ready for things months,weeks, days or even hours can really stick around if you let it. Yes, as a host you want everything to be ‘perfect’ and for everyone to have a good time but what about you? you’re a guest too! Are you making sure it’s still fun for you?

  3. plan ahead; make a to-do list; but also know that your plans may not always go as you expect them to…go with the flow at the party/event and just enjoy!

  4. Purpose to make each guest feel special and wanted. A clean house and yummy food will leave a guest unimpressed and empty if you don’t let them know how happy you are to have them in your home.

  5. We usually ask a question or two to everyone to go around and answer. The first one is about themselves and the second one is often silly or from an time period where everyone ends up talking to each other in order to fiqure out the answer. it can be such a warm ice breaker to find out someone else who might know commercial trivia or even a sports question! (even when there are no husbands around!)

  6. This is my first year to sign up. Not sure if I’ll host – but might look into getting some friends together and doing it somewhere – we’ll see!!

    ~W~

  7. Although this tip was already mentioned, it was one that helped me greatly once I started listening to it! Don’t worry about your house being “clean enough” – clean your house as you normally would, but don’t worry about it being “perfect” — truth is, people who are visiting are there to spend time with YOU, and they rarely notice how clean a house is (when you’re visiting someone else and they say something about the cleanliness of their house, don’t you always think and say “oh, no worries” — that’s also how people feel when they’re visiting you!) 🙂

  8. My tip (and advice to myself) will be to not worry about how many people sign up to come. I know God is in control of that! He knows who needs to be here that day!! I was so blessed by last years content that I want to share it with all of my girlfriends but I know that isn’t possible in a 2 hour setting on a April day! Letting go of the hostess perfection mindset also will be key to success!

    I’m hosting in Arkansas!

  9. My tip will be to not worry about how many people sign up to come. I know God is in control of that! He knows who needs to be here that day!!
    I’m hosting in Arkansas!

  10. Hosting tip: gather things ahead, leave the cabinet doors open to where the glasses are, let people help themselves to drinks, silverware. Put out all the essentials and then focus on people once they arrive,
    We just hosted a chocolate fondue party (borrowed our neighbors’ fountain too) and it was delicious! Strawberries were on sale so I bought 8 pounds! It turned out to be such fun because when people came I wasn’t in charge of everything but dipped and talked and enjoyed.

  11. My advice would just be to make it comfortable, not perfect! And that includes the hostess too. Last year I had a really tough time because only my mom, MIL, and SIL showed up, and I had really worked to have the house clean, and enough food for like 25 people. But it was fine! The videos were great and we ended up having a good time. This year I’ll have a one month old in tow as well, so I know things won’t be pristine or “perfect” – but I am so excited to try again and already have a few women who have agreed to come! 🙂 You’re a much better hostess when you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself – so relax and enjoy yourself!

  12. Know that no one is coming just to checkout your house and how clean it is. It doesn’t have to be perfect just welcoming

  13. I am learning that it is okay to ask others to bring some of the goodies…that allows them to feel a part of the gathering from the beginning, and helps the host feel like they don’t have to do everything on their own!

  14. My tips for being a hostess is to just be yourself and make your guests feel comforable – they didn’;t come to inspect the house – so don’t stress over cleaning it.

  15. Agree with all posts suggesting not to fret! My “practical” advice is to sweep the front porch, make sure the bathroom is clean (boys anyone?) & has fresh hand towels available. Most importantly, be yourself. It’s so much easier for us to relate to a “real” person vs. one who supposedly has it all together.

  16. Simplicity is the key – the main point is that there are people who are coming that have real needs and are looking for real relationships – an imperfect house or limited food choice is not what they are looking at. If they are offered genuine fellowship and can really connect to others – the night has been successful!

  17. My tip is to relax and make everyone feel comfortable. Let them know that your house is their house. Don’t start cleaning up dishes as soon as the meal is over. Enjoy time with your friends. You can clean that kitchen after everyone is gone!

  18. We are actually turning the event I am hosting into our annual Ladies Retreat and having a sleepover at my house. So supper and breakfast both have sign up lists for people to bring food. If you are hosting an event where you know everyone then as them to bring their favorite dish. That will help you with the food expense. And a bonus is that their dishes will go home with them and you won’t spend hours washing dishes afterwards.

  19. Keep it simple, relaxed and create an inviting atmosphere by making your house look “lived in”…not perfect!

    bamagv at aol dot com

  20. Prayer, pray for those you have not met that will be entering your home, pray for those that enter that you already know, pray for the beautiful fellowship. Invite God in first!

  21. My tip is to have lots of little places to sit with things that are easy to look at and talk about, coffee table books, pictures, bowls of candy…little “nooks” everywhere. That way people can tuck into a spot and get comfy for a few minutes here and there…and chat up someone they don’t know.

    • This is a fantastic idea. I hadn’t even considered setting up little areas for ladies to have side conversations. Thank you!

  22. Be yourself (telling myself this one!) and have fun getting to know each other. It’s what we’ve been waiting for!

  23. I’m not stressing about it. Im letting God handle who is coming or not coming. I bought DaySpring memo pads to give out to my guests. I’m going to include a nice pen and a few other goodies in homemade little welcome bags. I don’t even have a dining room table at the current time but I’m not going to let that keep me from having a good time. We will make due. I’ll serve simple finger food, bake some yummy sweets, and do my best not to go overboard with it all. I’m going to make some big floor pillows just in case we run out of seating. My prayer, is that I will. I just want it to be a comfortable, put your feet on the couch, curl up in a cozy blanket, kind of day. If they want to wear sweats or pjs all the better. Our focus is on The Lord and each other from the inside out. Not on what we are wearing or how much bling we have on. I’m so excited. Can’t wait.

  24. I am hosting in nj…I just pick up a park or a popular coffee place so I donot bother with perfection in the day….lots hope this year is more cues full than the last

  25. A fun activity to do is to in a small group like these is to make a PRAYER TREE together. Just cut a small branch off a tree from your yard or a park and put it in a vase filled with pebbles. Have each lady write a prayer that she will be committing to Jesus over the course of the group time (from the first day to the last) on a hang tag with her name on it. The ladies can go around and share what their prayer is and then hang it on the tree. The tree will be on display at each meeting as a reminder to each member of what to pray for each other about over the coming weeks. At the last meeting, each gal can share how the Lord has answered her prayer and what she has learned about it.

  26. My hosting tip would be to just relax and make your guests feel welcome. I never remember what their house looked like after getting together with friends, just how they made me feel.

  27. I love candles, and making the house smell good, seems to make me feel a little more relaxed too. 🙂

  28. Love that so many of the ladies suggest, “just relax!”.. think we all need to hear that. I know I do. It is amazing the spiritual warfare that comes against something so glorious and uplifting! I do not know what will happen, as I am not well, fighting life threatening disease, along with a myriad of the financial problems a self-supporting person encounters with such details, but I KNOW our God is faithful… if He has called us to do this, whether 1 person comes or 20 or more, He will meet us there! I am so excited to watch and wait and pray for the Lord to put this Beach House gathering together, and still waiting on Him to choose the place as my apt is too small. IN the meantime, I signed up early to Host, totally by faith, and have created a pinterest board , which I hope blesses some of you. Thanks for an amazing giveaway today. This scarf has been on my wishlist for some time! my pinterest link is : http://pinterest.com/palmbreezelife/in-rl-host-meetup-ideas/
    if anyone wants to check it out!
    Cathy B pbprojecthope at yahoo dotcom
    and if you live in the Palm Beach County, FL area or just want to travel to an awesome part of the country, please sign up soon for my meetup!

  29. My tip is to “ask for help”! Never be too shame to ask for others to chip in or help out with the decorations and/or spread. Most times, they are glad to. Not only will it make hosting a lot less stressful, but it will also give you (the host) the opportunity to actually enjoy the event.

  30. My tip is to relax and be yourself. Don’t pretend you are someone your not. If you aren’t a decorator, don’t sweat it–simple is awesome. If you don’t fix gourmet food (or food of any sort), stop at the nearest grocery and grab a few prepackaged treats. The point is to connect–laughing and praying together–not to impress anyone.

  31. My tip for hosting is simple: Keep it SIMPLE. A few pretty decorations, easy finger foods, and a big smile are all you need for a fun, relaxed event.

  32. My tip is to create a relaxing, calming environment as many are looking for not only a get-together, but a get away! Serenity in the home setting can form an unforgettable impact!

  33. My best tip is to focus on your guests, rather than worrying about their impression of you. Think about what will make them comfortable and welcomed, not about what will make you look good. 🙂 I’ve struggled with hosting-anxiety for years, and this mindset switch has helped me so much!

  34. To ensure the success of this event (my first time hosting!), I’m going to encourage a few ladies I already know to sign up to come to the gathering at my house, and will encourage them to invite one of their friends or acquaintances to come with them as well. I hope this will make for a good mix of new friends and old, and provide a great base of connection for anyone completely new wanting to participate just by signing up through the Meet Up site.

  35. Also, I’m thrilled to be hosting in the Twin Cities, MN this year with my friend Anna! We have a big group, but we’re planning to break into small table-groups for discussion in between videos. 🙂

  36. (in)RL is coming to my house in Virginia! 😉
    I try to make seating as comfortable & conducive to conversation as possible. Extra cushions & a big circle enhance the gift of gab.

  37. I’m hosting in Plymouth Meeting, PA!

    My hosting tip is too not over think it. The things you worry over, the details you may have overlooked, will not be the thing your guests remember.

  38. The best suggestion that I have for hosting is to keep it simple, especially the food. The times that I have made some elaborate recipe only brought more stress because of timing the food with the start of the event. When I’ve provided food that I could make ahead of time or have in the crockpot, I have had much less to worry about and enjoyed myself more.

  39. Let people help. When they offer to bring drinks, ice, a side dish. Say that would be great! Don’t try to do it all. You’ll be less stressed and enjoy the event much more when your not having to do it all.

  40. Don’t do it all yourself. As women, we don’t like showing up empty-handed, so share the load. Ask everyone to bring something (name tags, a game idea, snacks, drinks, etc). It’s a win-win. You’re not feeling the pressure of having to do everything and the attendee’s feel like they’ve contributed.

  41. I love to have tea parties in my home. It is just such a special time. I make my own scones and Devonshire cream. I have a large selection of teas and I bring out all the teapots and cups and saucers and special plates. Everyone else brings a treat to share, mini sandwiches, soup, etc. It is a relaxed time that is missing for so many of us. I used to worry about my house being perfect and “what would people think” since my furniture is getting pretty ratty from twin boys’ and just living life. I decided that if that was all that the women saw then they were missing the best part: friendship and freedom to be real. So far they keep coming back!

  42. I’m hosting this year in South Carolina, and am really looking forward to it! One tip I have for hosting is don’t make the prep and environment (or lack thereof) more important than the relationships and connections.

  43. I am hosting in Pittsfield,MA and looking forward to it!! Loved this last year and the Beach house gifts were great! Hope to see some new faces this year! Keep it simple and relaxed. Most important is to enoy the company!!

  44. I love hosting… yet there are many ‘reasons’ or ‘excuses’ that can get in my way. (I rent, there is not much parking, my house is not perfect, I don’t have a ton of seating…) but I have purposed this year to not let any of those things get in my way for creating atmosphere that breeds community!

    So – clean up a bit… sure! Maybe tell the neighbors you are hosting a gathering for a few hours so they are aware ahead of time. Gather some extra chairs, and be the first to grab a seat on the floor. Light some candles or a scentsy burner to fill the house with warmth… have some beverage options to offer and ask for help in providing treats if you are wanting to serve something to snack on.

    Remember – you are inviting women in to your home – but it is your heart that they are coming to see. So spend some time preparing your heart… and relax… the more we meet up – the more we realize, we are not alone!

  45. I would give the advice of don’t get too stressed about your dirt and clutter. We all have it, people understand. Just do the best you can and enjoy the fellowship.

  46. kiss… keep it simple, silly! i’m hosting for the first time and i don’t think this needs to be a huge deal, as it is mostly about connecting. 🙂 looking forward to it!

  47. I need to stop negatively comparing my home to others, see the character it has and play that up. I’m hosting first-time from an ancient farm house in central Illinois.

  48. Don’t stress about spotlessness. Especially if you have kids. Do diligence to clean but don’t stress if it is not spotless.

  49. Candles and music add instant atmosphere and are a fun way to (in)courage the party mood!:)

    I will be hosting the Petaluma, CA group for my first time and I look forward to this wonderful experience… thank you ladies!

  50. My tip is to just be yourself and don’t stress out about trying to be something you are not in front of women in real life. Everyone has their own issues. Just hug on everyone and smile!!

  51. My tip to hosting is to plan ahead of time but not to stress if my total mental picture isn’t exact and to remember it’s about the relationships being built.

    I will be hosting in Ohio, first time and looking forward to seeing what God is doing!

  52. My husband is great at reminding me that a relaxed host makes for an easygoing time for everybody! This is a great way to remember that hospitality isn’t about perfection, but about relationships!

  53. This will be my first time to attend. Considering hosting. Balancing the Mary or Martha tendencies would keep it in perspective. Simplicity would allow for enjoyment. Saying that prior is easy. Once it starts to get closer, I tend to fret. My husband & I work well together. Due to health limits, he is truly my help mate. If it’s possible to communicate with others prior, I will ask for help. Learning a new craft or skill would be fun.

  54. I am excited to host for the second year in a row- but this year, we will be at our church instead of in my home, because it is possible that my baby girl will be joining the world around that time!!! But that would be one of my tips for hosting- be flexible! This year I will be working with friends, so if I can’t be there it will still happen and I know that God will get the glory! He always does when His girls come together!

  55. I would say to invite a mix of people you know and people you dont know. Step out of your comfort zone, trust me it will be a blessing to you as well as your new friends.

  56. My tip is to Relax and Enjoy! I stressed too much about what my home looked like and what I personally had to offer these women who would come into my home for the first time last year. That is, I stressed until my God reminded me that I’m doing all of this for HIM and He’s pretty pleased with me…and the home he gave me to host in.
    So…Prepare, yes but don’t stress. Make yourself available for God’s work.

  57. My tip is sharing a couple of our favorite refreshments to serve for small parties:
    1. Apple and pear slices with yogurt dip; mix one cup of plain yogurt with 2 tbsp. of maple syrup and serve it with apple and pear slices.
    2. You can float nearly any sliced/washed fruit in a pitcher of ice water, it gives it a bit of flavor and looks fancy!

  58. My tip is to stay away from strong scents. Use unscented candles if you must, as some of your guests might have allergies or suffer from migraines that get triggered from strong smells. On the same note, if you are attending, leave your perfumes at home. Your fellow attendees will thank you. 🙂

  59. My tip is to keep things simple-be organized and have your menu planned ahead of time. Most of all-keep in mind it isn’t a contest to outdo anyone. You’re doing this for the Lord!

  60. I’m taking the leap to host this year, in Cambridge, Ontario. This is also my first time participating. My tip is what my mother always says: just make sure your washroom is clean! 🙂
    After that, just do your best and don’t apologize for not being perfect- it’s a relief for others to be with real people. After all, this is (in)RL!

  61. cook items ahead and just reheat- give yourself less stress- think finger food that is easy to get ready at the last minute and more importantly, easy to clean up!

  62. Oh my, I don’t know how many times I wish that I has just PRAYED before anything I started!! Big or small, trivial or urgent, beautiful or boring, confusing or clear; I am learning that whatever end of the spectrum our life seems to gravitate towards every minute of the day (it seems), talking with God about it ALWAYS seems to make everything okay. Not perfect, but just enough to handle with peace and contentment.

  63. I was inspired with a host idea during the sermon at church last Sunday – the pastor talked about holy ground and how when we truly feel God’s presence we are standing on holy ground. He reminded us of the burning bush and how Moses was told to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. My plan is to read some scripture passages about this and then have everyone remove their shoes (I’ll let them know in advance, I know going without shoes makes some people very uncomfortable so socks will be OK).

  64. This will be my first time, but I really want it to be relaxing for my friends and just be able to be themselves and feel at home. It’s all in Gods hands and of course pray over the gathering that all the ladies be blessed and are so (in)couraged.

    Blessings,
    Adrienne

  65. I am hosting in Malakoff, Texas & inviting friends from nearby Athens. Stepping out in faith as our house is in process of updating and remodeling. Have to remind myself that it is about using the gift of hospitality that makes people feel at home. If I don’t open my home due to embarrassment or fear of judgement, who does that benefit? No one!

  66. Tip for hosting… Relax. It all comes together. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll enjoy your event so much more if you feel like you don’t have to be responsible for every last detail. 🙂

  67. Everyone wears an invisible sign around their neck that reads “Make Me Feel Important”. Know in advance that some women have not felt important in a long time and it took big courage to ring your doorbell! Shower with grace, love freely, and give her Jesus!

  68. Must haves: your peeps, an imperfect home filled with love, a rug to wipe our worries at the door, paper and pens to journal what captivates us, and of course, coffee!
    What is already there: the Holy Spirit, the webcast, and God’s blessing! I can’t wait to have a group here in my little living room and mismatched furniture… nothing is perfect except Him who loves 🙂

  69. One tip is to do what you can before the event, so you’re not running around doing things the minute before guests arrive. This works with food and for me, cleaning days before so I won’t be overwhelmed and I can just do touch-ups that day! This is my first year doing inrl, but I would recommend having paper and pens handy. Maybe even buy clipboards and give them out to those coming to the meetup!

  70. We just had some workshops at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) this morning and one of them was on hospitality. It was a great talk, but my 2 takeaways from that are: plan ahead which is basic but I always think I can do things last minute, and the practice tip was to put out the serving dishes where they will be placed after the food is all done and put sticky notes on them so you can see where they will fit on the table or countertop.

  71. I’m hosting again in the Elko, NV, area. Last year’s event was very inspiring, so I’m looking forward to a great time again this year. My suggestion is to have name tags for everyone so those who don’t know each other can connect easier. Also, I’ll be asking last year’s attendees to wear their (in)RL tee shirts from that event, if they like.

  72. I am hosting a meet up. I am scared , but I am going to do it. Our croup is in Gassaway ,West Virginia. It will focus on chronic illness along with fellowship. I love all the ideas you give us to work with. Please say a prayer that me and God pull this off!

  73. My tip is to create a comfortable, friendly meeting space. Be sure there is plenty of room for your guests to sit comfortably, yet cozy enough to interact.

    I am hosting an (in)RL 2013 event in my home in Corsicana, TX.

    Blessings~Debra

  74. I’m hosting this year, for the first time, in Pittsburgh, PA. When I entertain, I try to do as much as possible ahead of time so I can relax when the guests arrive. I also am big on tidying up and hiding clutter, which makes my house seem clean, even if it couldn’t pass the white glove test!

  75. One way to keep it simple and less stressful when you are hosting a little get together like this one is to ask each person coming if they are able to bring either a dessert, beverage, fruit, or any other small edibles that come to mind – like chocolate!! In any case, there is no pressure to bring anything but some will and there is much less stress on the hostess!

  76. Hosting tip: candles and open windows to fresh air (if the weather is nice!) and a vase of flowers will make your home welcoming, no matter what the state of cleanliness everything else is in!

  77. Hosting tip: I guess that if I ever hosted I would always have extras just in case I run out of things (food, books, chairs, activities …)

  78. My tip: Leave a cobweb or two when you’re cleaning beforehand so no one feels like your house is so perfect they could never have you over to theirs! 😉

  79. I’m hosting this year but don’t have my guest list completely set yet. We’ll be in Wisconsin

  80. Thank you for blessing me with this beautiful scarf! It is spectacular! I’m excited to show my new {RL} friends when they visit me!!!