Time in my kitchen is the best way I know to nourish my friends and family. I love when guests arrive empty-handed and hungry for both sustenance and connection. I’m deeply satisfied when they belly up to my island and tell me how they really are, all while watching me chop and mix. In these moments, I truly feel that there’s no better use of my time.

Even recognizing that connection is the best part, it’s still incredibly easy for me to lose sight of its importance when I’m hosting. I sometimes get wrapped up in perfecting the meal and neglect the people who came to be with me. Other times, when I’ve been overwhelmed with the crowd of a party, I’ve used my kitchen as a buffer, hiding behind prep work and clean up.

This blog focuses on creating moments that satisfy both guests and hosts and includes my favorite resources for crafting a meaningful event.

“It’s about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another’s faces, listen to one another’s stories.” – Shauna Niequest, Bread & Wine

My first recommendation for creating a memorable event is to read Shauna Niequest’s book, Bread & Wine. There is something so incredibly significant about breaking bread and Shauna beautifully articulates the meaning of gathering around a table. Her book is meaty and delicious, full of quotes to make your truth bells ring and recipes to delight your friends and family. Download the first two chapters of her book here.

Next, plan for meaningful conversation. The quality of the question dictates the quality of the conversation. The more a person feels heard and accepted, the more meaningful the moment. To achieve this, I turn to conversation cards, which make conversation easy and turn sharing into a bit of a game. While there are tons of chat packs available online, my favorite is  Just Between Us: Conversation Cards for the Whole Family. The kit comes with simple ground rules and 150 question cards, which are appropriate for all ages. The backs of the cards offer secondary questions to deepen the conversation. For example:

Front of card: If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?

Back of card: How can you be that change?

My last piece of advice is to ease the stress of hosting by accepting help. In the past, I struggled to ask for or accept help because I believed I should be able to execute a flawless meal on my own. I also believed that someone, somewhere would deduct points from my Superwoman scorecard if someone else had to step in. I found that there was no scorecard and no trophy for putting on phenomenal gatherings without help. Instead, my reward for a perfectly executed meal was sadness that I had wasted another precious opportunity to be present with my family.

Since accepting help still doesn’t come naturally to me, I plan in advance so I have answers when guests ask, “What can I do to help?”. Our downloadable is a tool to help you map your event and identify those opportunities for assistance. If you struggle with this as I have, give thanks that you have people who genuinely want to help and give yourself grace that you’re still a work in progress. A single moment of true connection is a win, and it’s all that anyone will remember from your event.