Sunday, June 2, 2013

Add A Bowl Of Soap

I'm really big on making my home a happy place.  It's gotta look cozy and welcoming, it's gotta smell like food, and it's gotta sound like life.  My home is never pristine and it'll drive a neat freak absolutely bonkers.  But my kids (and anyone else's kids who come over) feel like this is HOME.  And that's important to me. 

When you are having people over for dinner, a BBQ, a party, whatever, hopefully you will want them to feel comfortable in your home.  Here are a few things you might find helpful for the next time your guests are planning on coming over.

What you don't want your guests to walk into:

The Uptight, Don't-Do-This-Or-That-House

You know what house I'm talking about.  And see?  I've already used the word "house" instead of "home."  It's the type of house that's so clean and orderly with tons of those breakable objects and expensive paintings that the average person looking to have a good time with some friends will feel terribly uncomfortable even walking into.  When you're walking into a home like this, you feel as if you're walking into a museum.  The host is probably polite enough, but you feel as if you can't afford to touch anything in case you smudge it with your fingerprint and find out the object you've touched has been passed down from generation to generation and "everyone" knows you don't just pick that up.  What you usually hear from the host or people who've been to this place once before are things like, "Oh we don't sit on that chair, that's an heirloom," "Actually, could your kids stop jumping?  We don't allow loud feet in here," "Oh, excuse me, I'm sorry but we don't walk on the grass."  Unless you're planning a fancy dinner party, don't let your guests feel like they're walking on thin ice the moment they step into your home.

The Real "Don't Mind The Mess" House

Many people say, "Please don't mind the mess" when people walk into their home.  It's a habitual way of demonstrating humility or modesty about one's home.  But when you say it and prayerfully mean it, maybe you should've rescheduled the visit.  Here's what not to do:  Don't leave your laundry on the couch-- even though you've already washed and dried it, your guests simply see a pile of clothes and please don't let there be an underwear hanging out.  If your dog poops on the floor, even if it's on a puppy pad, please please please clean that up before your guests arrive.  And spray some air freshener.  If you have a pot of last night's dinner on the stove-- throw the food out and wash the pot.  Put on a bra-- enough said.  But most of all, if you are a hoarder (a true hoarder) please seek help before letting people come in.  Unless they're trying to get you out of there.  Now don't get me wrong, these are little things individually, but if you're really not ready to have company over, simply give your home a quick pick-up.  Put that load of clean laundry on your bed, clean up any yucky messes and air out your home.  It's good to let your home look lived in, but try not to let your guests feel uncomfortable or gross staying in it.

The House With "That Dog"

I love animals.  I have 4 pets of my own.  But I wouldn't ever want my guests to feel assaulted when I let them in.  My dog doesn't jump on guests-- he'll definitely approach them and hope for some pets, but he doesn't go crazy jumping all over them begging for a treat.  If you're a dog owner, it is a really beneficial thing to train your dog.  He doesn't have to have his Canine Good Citizen certification but he should be well mannered.  Not only would you be showing your guests that they are welcome in your home, but it is really great for your dog!  If you must have people over and your dog is just not a people kind of person, you might want to crate him while people are over.

What You Do Want Your Guests To Walk Into:

The Comfortable, Easy-Going Home

Your home should feel like home to welcomed guests-- and your family!  You don't have to make it look beautiful.  You don't have to feel bad about your kids jumping up and down.  And you definitely shouldn't apologize for even having a dog.  There are a ton of little things you can do to make your home FEEL happy.  Think of your five senses and go from there:

  1. See:  Your home should look comfy and cozy. 
    1. Put a throw on the couch.
    2. Hang a fresh hand towel by your sink.
    3. Clean your guest bathroom.
    4. Get some fresh flowers and put the vase in the middle of your dining or entry table.
    5. Let your kids play!
    6. Brush your dog.
  2. Hear:  A quiet home is an uncomfortable one.
    1. Turn the TV on, not too loud but enough for background noise.  Put on a good, clean comedy.
    2. Leave a couple (just a couple) of dishes in the sink so when you let your guests in you can leave them to have a seat and you can wash the dishes.  It lets them relax.
    3. Talk to them!
  3. Smell:  Food is always a good welcoming gesture.
    1. Before your guests arrive, heat up a pan of olive oil and some garlic.  Keep it on low so as not to let it burn.  Garlic, although not a good kissing scent, is a great way to break up any nervousness in the atmosphere.
    2. Heat up a candle warmer with some kind of baked goods scent.  I personally like my Scentsy blueberry cheesecake scent.
  4. Touch:  When people are nervous, they tend to need something to keep their hands busy.
    1. Brush your dog! 
    2. Keep a comfy teddy bear on the couch.
    3. Have a few books or magazines out.
    4. Knick-knacks are great for keeping guests entertained.
  5. Taste:  Again, food is always a good welcoming gesture.
    1. If your guests are not coming for dinner or a party, have a bowl of chips or pretzels out on your dining or coffee table.
    2. Make a good queso or other type of dip.
    3. Have a pitcher or iced tea or water out for them.
I'm a huge home person.  I love my home and when people come over I want them to feel at home.  Most of all, though, I want my kids to remember the feeling of home as a good, loving place that they always felt safe in both emotionally and physically.

I keep a variety of soaps in a bowl by my kitchen sink.  It adds color and makes people smile. 
I've seen it!
My fridge holds things that makes me smile.  Pictures, art, and good coupons.

I keep my fruit, veggies and bread in baskets on my counter.  It looks busy but also fun!

My home would drive a neat freak crazy!!  My dining room is also a mini-library and art space.


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