Breaking Free from Hosting Stress: Embracing Simplicity and Connection

Breaking Free from Hosting Stress: Embracing Simplicity and Connection

You wake up from the sound of dishes clanking downstairs. There’s a distant hum from what you can only imagine is the vacuum going over the carpet in methodic patterns to get those distinguishable “we-just-vacuumed-the-whole-house” lines. You get a whiff of the thick air—a mix of beef and onions, with a tinge of tension. You make your way downstairs, nearly tripping on the items your mom set on the edge of the steps for you to put away. Your brother is straining each finger with the weight of four pairs of shoes, while waddling in another pair, trying to avoid making a second trip to the shoe closet. You stop to take one last inhale of the tasty air, now you can smell the garlic and the spiced rice and the fatayer, but the scent is quickly cut off from everything else you know needs to get done—fluff and chop the pillows as if they’ve never been used before, perfectly ripple the exposed tissue from the tissue-box, dust the baseboards (as if every guest will be inspecting the baseboards), clean the guest-room for that random baby that’s going to take a nap there later, amongst so many other chores.

You start to wonder how there can be enjoyment in hosting when it feels like needing to prepare the house for royalty every time.

And of course, after all that, when the guests arrive, and the compliments about the food start swirling around, and the tea is poured and the cake is cut, you can finally catch your breath and find yourself enjoying the company. But why did hosting always have to feel so stressful? It felt like an orchestrated symphony—beautiful and lively, yet chaotically abundant. 

As I grew older and settled into my own place, I realized hosting could mean anything I wanted it to. It could mean having the in-laws over, sure, but it could also mean having my two closest friends over for tea and dessert. In every apartment or space I’ve settled into, I’ve made it a goal to fill the memory-foam-air with laughter, and generosity, and deep (or casual) conversations.

Hosting is no longer a scary word to me. It’s a word that means sharing my space with grace, no matter the number of shoes left at the front doormat.

I got to this point because too many of my own gatherings felt draining before guests even arrived—leaving little to no energy to actually appreciate the effort I put in. I did this by first breaking down whatever preconceived stressors or ideas I had about hosting. Most of them were silly, like: “Oh no, what if they see that there’s dust in the air vents?!” I don’t know about you but I’ve never checked other people’s air vents. Or, “What if they open my spice drawer and see that it doubles as a junk drawer?” I haven’t gone around snooping in other people’s spice cabinets, have you? Most of these stressors had to do with cleaning. But I realized if I always kept a relatively tidy space, it shouldn’t be that stressful when guests sprung up (invited, or unplanned). I’ve learned to treat myself like a guest in my own home. In other words, I do my best to keep a clean space as though I were the guest being invited in. That way, if the desire to invite some friends over springs up on a random Thursday night, it wouldn’t take much preparation except to maybe light a candle and refold the throw blanket on the couch.

I decided that the stress of perfecting my space shouldn’t be what holds me back from having a moment of connection with people.

The next thing I alleviated was the ambiance. I thought back to times when I was a guest in someone else’s home. What felt comfortable? How was the lighting? How did I feel? What made it feel at ease? Not one of those times did I ever question “Hmm, I wonder what their spice drawer looks like,” or “Wow, that tissue poking out of the box is so perfectly folded.” None of those little details mattered. All I knew was that the energy felt right, we laughed a lot and had a good time—whether it was over a large table adorned with matching linens seated with a handful of friends, or it was a couch-talk with one person and a cup of tea in hand (maybe even with our “Over a Cup of Tea Towel”).

Many times hosting includes food of some sort. This was a huge one in my head—I grew up seeing my mom cooking for what felt like a village of people. The week leading up to a big gathering at the house would be filled with: “Are there enough meat options?” “What about a gluten-free dish?” “Oh, and their daughter loves that one dessert, I should probably make that too.” “Wait, if we have soup, we should also have bread.” “Well, potatoes don’t really count as a vegetable, so of course we need another veggie dish!” 

Now, I can cook but it feels like my parents had something else in their blood that didn’t quite transfer to me. Maybe with time, I won’t be scared to host 20+ people, but for now, I’ve learned to make hosting less intimidating by starting small. Too scared to cook? I’ll host a make-your-own pizza night. Perfected a dish but not sure how it’ll turn out if I double the recipe? I’ll just have two people over. Not in the mood to cook at all? I’ll host a tea and dessert gathering in my living room. 

Because after all, hosting is not about the perfection of presentation; it’s about the warmth of connection and the generosity of welcoming people into your space.

It should be about creating an atmosphere of comfort, care, and connection—not just for your guests but for yourself too! I’ve come to understand that the true essence of hosting lies in the sincerity of the welcome and the depth of the connections shared between individuals. Hosting with ease means recognizing that the joy of hospitality lies in the moments of genuine connection, not in striving for an unattainable standard of perfection. Through this realization, I’ve found not only the joy of hosting but also the freedom to truly enjoy it, host and guest alike.


Written by Hala Khalifeh

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1 comment

Brooo this was so good! I really resonated with the cleaning part of what you said. I think it many times took away from the joy that was brought thru having people over. I have a lot of little siblings so it’s hard to keep up a clean space all the time with a big family. And being the eldest daughter I just had to learn to pick up as I go instead of doing it all last minute. I’ve also been intimated to host ppl in my families house bc you never know how your families dynamic will flow w others. So I’ve just been enjoying the guest life. Inshallah I lose my sense of fear around my space one day and understand it’s the feeling not always the place.


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