des moines, iowa and beyond

workflow & systems strategist

Hosting with Gratitude


This time, every year, we are all focused on gratitude. This year, especially, I have been leaning into that sentiment on a daily basis. While community, social calls and the season beckon to us to gather, we chose to honor and serve by expressing genuine gratitude in our little home this past week.

Friendsgiving is such a wonderful idea and one that I have never partaken in before. In this past year, AJP and I have grown to truly value and appreciate the genuine relationships we’ve found here in Dallas. So many people have welcomed us and we wanted to give back in some small way. To show our gratitude for their love and friendship, we hosted our first Friendsgiving!


In the past, when we have hosted, I always wanted to go all out, style things up and treat it as an over the top photo op. Silly, right?! Yes – it is. First of all, that is absolutely exhausting. Secondly, it is so incredibly impractical and defeats the purpose of gathering to begin with! Don’t worry, I smartened up.

I have to tell you, I took a simplified, intentional approach this time and it was night and day in my being present and enjoying things. Being constantly surrounded by tablescapes and beautifully curated squares can make me feel like hosting is an overwhelming prospect. Do you ever feel that way? After granting myself permission to let it go and just be, we had a joy filled and wonderful evening.  I admit, I was nervous moments before everyone arrived. Did I forget anything (yep – the broccoli)? Are they going to notice that xyz? (no) Is my outfit ok? (really, Jenn?!) If you are anything like me, I want to share a few tips I learned about intentional and grateful hosting (and getting over myself!).


  1. Your friends do not care — what you wear, how you look or if you have a West Elm or Pottery Barn table setting. Stop trying to impress them. They already love you or they would not be coming over or in your life. Honestly, let’s please stop trying to be magazine ready 24/7. Amen?!
  2. It’s the company — not the environment that matters. Again, be fully present in the moment. Our table was simple and just enough space to gather around. If for no other reason, that made it perfect to me.
  3. Keep it simple. A five-star meal is nice, but not necessary. See number one. It could have been pizza night on the floor and we would have enjoyed our time together. Do not reinvent the wheel. Keep things simple and classic.
  4. Plan ahead. Make dishes that can be kept warm before serving so that you can relax in the hour or two before guests arrive. Since this is a busy season for all of us, we opted for a small pot luck style menu. We got to trade recipes and share the stories behind them.
  5. Let it go. If something doesn’t go according to plan (like dropping the ham on the floor minutes before guests arrive…) just go with the flow. Laugh at yourself. Realize that it is 100% ok to be you (read – not perfect).

Lovelies, giving yourself permission to focus on the relationships and not how something will appear to others is so gosh darn freeing. We still had a wonderful time in spite of (or because of) the fact that my table setting is not Pinterest worthy and I did not pull out all the stops to cook like Giada or Bobby Flay. We had wonderful conversation, were connecting over apple pie and purely enjoyed each other’s company. No strings or perfection involved.

How do you simplify and welcome guests when you host in your home? I’d love to hear your tips. We will be doing a lot more gathering in the months and years to come. Happy hosting!

xoxo, Jenn

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