Entertaining Anxiety (or Hosting the Book Club)

I preferred the book to the movie.

I grew up in a family where my parents entertained regularly in their home. Our Sunday dinner table included my widowed grandmothers and our elderly great aunt every week. My mother prepared the roast beef dinner. The dinner lasted well into the evening with the women and girls spending much of the time washing and drying the dishes.

 I married and had my daughter at a younger age than many of my friends. During my first marriage, my husband and I met other young couples in our neighbourhood and through parenting. I enjoyed hosting theme parties and dinners. Unfortunately, when that marriage ended, I had fewer opportunities to host. Smaller accommodation and a full-time career limited my entertaining possibilities. A young woman who is separated tends to associate with other single people rather than with married couples. That's life!

M. L-B does not enjoy entertaining in the apartment. He is content to be left alone with our dog,  sports and Netflix. Consequently, most of my socializing takes place in restaurants where I visit with women friends at lunch and Monsieur and I occasionally dine out with other couples.

Next week, I am hosting my evening book club meeting for the first time. I have "entertaining anxiety." Our apartment building is undergoing some structural renovation. Right now, our roof is being replaced. Yesterday, I came home to find my pictures hanging crookedly on the walls and our kitchen light fixture looking very precarious.

We will be discussing The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor. This is a non-fiction work about the efforts of Maria Altman to recover the painting of her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer. The Gustav Klimt painting had been stolen by the Nazis and was hanging in an Austrian art gallery. I had seen the movie The Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren but I found the book to be more informative.

I don't have a problem with expressing my opinions in a literature circle and even leading the discussion but I do have anxiety about hosting. Well, then my inner school teacher voice piped up,
"Develop a theme. It could be either "golden" or "Austrian".

easy butternut and goat cheese bruschetta (from Jamie Oliver)

It's autumn, it's golden.  We always have appetizers and small desserts at our meetings. Why not make bruschetta? I can serve cherry tomatoes (mixed colours to include some golden ones) and olives
as my savouries. What about small apple strudels and pumpkin tarts as my sweets? I'll add some grapes and an Austrian cheese to my table. With 1 bottle of Malbec, 3 bottles of Pinot Grigio and some sparkling water, no one will be too critical.

"Alright," says my logical mind. "Would these ladies be critical or is this a case of my own inner critic attacking me?"

Positive self talk:
I am able to locate an appropriate recipe and follow it.
I clean the apartment regularly.
The renovations are a fact of life.
A Parisienne would feel comfortable if she lived in a broom closet sized apartment.
I am an involved participant in book discussions.
Wine makes all things possible.

Do you have entertaining anxiety? Do you welcome new people into your home or is your home a personal sanctuary? Do you have strategies for dealing with negative self talk?

I love this quotation:

Shauna Niequist
“But entertaining isn't a sport or a competition. It's an act of love, if you let it be. You can twist it and turn it into anything you want—a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval. Or you can decide that every time you open your door, it's an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving. You can decide.”
― Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes


  1. I like to entertain...and my motto is to keep it simple. I make a list and plan the menu ahead of time and always try to make some things in advance.
    We used to have dinner parties when the children were young and there would be unfinished projects on the go...fresh drywall etc...and even now nothing here is perfect...its very wabi sabi!

    Your menu sounds yummy! It will be fun getting together with your book club and the wines sound tasty too! Enjoy!

    1. It does seem that we did a lot more entertaining when we were younger. That bruschetta sounds tasty.

  2. I think I tend to view my home as a personal sanctuary - I never realized this until more recently. I've always found I am more comfortable going to someone else's home (or going out), then having them to my home. I think it's that personal sanctuary thing. I could stand to take a page out of the hostess's book - "wabi sabi".

  3. I sometimes have entertaining anxiety. I find that planning, and doing more entertaining helps me overcome the anxiety. People are just happy to be invited into someone's home, I think. And I tell myself that it's the people who are most important, not the decor or the food.

    1. You are right! Planning is very important for me. I like to be able to enjoy the time with the guests.

  4. I became anxious reading the title of your post. Entertaining terrifies me. Making small talk is difficult. I am good through 'hello, how are you?' and then lost! But you seem so confident to me. I know your apartment is lovely, and neat and clean. Your food will be attractive and tasty. Your conversation engaging. You've got this girl!


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