My sister Kim loves to host our family gatherings in her home. For as long as I can remember, she’s had the heart of a caretaker. If she wasn’t cozied up in the corner with her nose in a book, learning something new, she was helping around the house, reliably checking all her chores off the chore chart. Her love of learning and caring for people led her to study nursing in college. While I was out, gallivanting around (doing something to break the rules, no doubt), she was working long shifts at the hospital or caring for the elderly in a nursing home. She’s the one we all called when our babies were sick and we didn’t know what to do. She’s still the one we call most of the time when we don’t know what to do.
Hostessing, for Kim, is entirely grounded in her fierce love for people.
She may not be the life of the party, in the middle of the crowd, making everyone laugh. She isn’t concerned with having the widest circle of friends. She’d rather pour every last ounce of her love into the ones she holds close, than to sprinkle it far and wide atop everyone she meets. There’s nowhere that shows up more than when she hosts us at her home for the holidays.
The icing on her hostessing cake is that she absolutely loves to cook.
Unlike myself, she doesn’t cook just to keep her family alive. She cooks with so much creativity, heart, and soul, because as they savor each bite she wants them to taste the love she put into it. I’ve learned a lot about life from watching Kim host us so well over the years. She works her fingers to the bone in the kitchen, sweating over a hot stove. She creates tablescapes that would make Joanna Gaines blush.
But it’s not because she has to, it’s because serving the people she loves is everything to her.
I was passing through the kitchen as we were all packing up to leave after our Thanksgiving feast, when I couldn’t help but notice the emotion happening in this hug. This is my niece Ashlyn, who flew in from college for the holiday. She’s laughing because I made them extend the hug long enough to grab a pic, but they were embracing in the most beautiful moment of emotion. Kim didn’t want her to leave. She loves her like she’s her own.
Creating the space for connection, comfort and safety in her home is her biggest gift to all of us.
So when it’s time for the ones she loves to leave, part of that gift is ending. And it’s emotional, both for her, and for the rest of us, but the biggest part of it lives on. It lives on in the memories of our experiences together. It lives on in the deepened connections of our relationships, and in our hearts.
That’s the heart of hosting.
When you’ve done it well, people will love the food and enjoy the tablescapes, of course. But the experience of connection, comfort and safety they feel is the best gift of all. It’s the strengthened bonds of relationships that last throughout the year, long after the holiday gatherings have ended.
If you’re planning to gather the ones you love and you’re looking to be a great hostess, focus on the experience of connection.
It’s the only parting gift that lasts.
Everything else is icing on the cake.
to more love,
p.s. There’s still one more day to get your early bird ticket to our “Holiday Ready GNO” where we’re hosting you and your girlfriends, with our whole hearts focused on connection. The icing on the cake is that you’ll leave ready to enter this last month of the year armed with all the best tips and tricks of handling the holidays like a pro! I hope to see you there.