Being crappy is a way of life, and like all ways of life, it has seasons. Sometimes, being crappy means holing up in your lair while the rains of winter dribble around. Sometimes, being crappy means it’s summer and so you decide you’re having social engagements. Webster’s dictionary probably defines hosting as “letting gross bugs nibble your skin flaps,” but we can define it as “having people over and wanting them to think you are 25% less crappy than you actually are.” When that pressure strikes, I clean furiously, decide to make 5 new recipes, and end up yelling at the victims who live with me. That makes everyone feel GREAT by the time guests arrive!
Really though, the heart of crappy hosting is understanding that being not-so-great at it should NEVER be an impediment to your socializing. Your friends want to hang out with you. They don’t really care about your house. At the same time, the level of squalor you can tolerate may necessitate finding a balance. These tips are about where that point really resides.
- Clean your toilet. At least the seat. Butt germ transfer is a leading cause of having your butt fall off. This seems like a lot of work, but trust me- this is a great tip. Spraying cleaner in your bathroom to sanitize the butt gasket on your toilet will make your whole bathroom smell like you tried to clean. Your guests will think you tried and they won’t get butt pox. That’s what I call a win-win.
- Get out the vacuum. You don’t need to actually use it, just leave it out so it looks like you were in the middle of it when your guests show up. Give a hearty laugh! Ha! Ha! Looks like you got here before I could finish that up!
- If you want to serve wine, go buy whatever is cheap but unrecognizable. Nobody actually knows anything about wine, so if you pick something obscure and it sucks, say something about “varietals” and “letting it breathe” and everyone will nod sagely and tut-tut about minerality. Just don’t get something that obviously looks like it tastes like band-aids and you’re golden.
- Serve one snack that seems fancy. This is where those Trader Joe’s crackers come in. Maybe you also serve a piece of cheese. If you add in some sliced fruit and you put it all on a cutting board, that’s perfect. Cutting boards have been scientifically proven to make snacks seem better.
- Serve one snack that is crappy, but everyone secretly likes it. I’m talking aggressively flavored potato chips, caramel corn, Doritos… Everyone will eat them. You will eat them. Your guests will say, “Oh my stars! I NEVER have these at home!” because they are trying to publicly display that they are not the kind of person who lays in their fortress putting Bugles on their fingers and then wiping said fingers on their socks.
- Serve one thing that comes from a jar or can. Pickles? Salsa? Sure.
- Delegate. This one is a no-brainer. You can’t possibly do all the things you need to do to host and still have time for a sufficient disco nap. That means that when your friends half-heartedly ask if they can bring something, you say YES. They were hoping you would say you don’t really need anything, but you are disinfecting your toilet seat for them, so this is the least they can do. Tell them to bring fruit. It’s weirdly specific, but also easy. Besides, everyone could use more fiber in their diet. Colon health is the heart of snack delegation.
- Use real plates. Paper plates are wasteful landfill fodder, and they’re usually too small and too flimsy to support a meaningful snack experience. Your plates don’t need to be nice, and they don’t need to match. If you don’t want to wash them, remember that one of your friends will inevitably ask how they can help. See Point #7.
- Use fake napkins. Cloth napkins are creepy because I once read an article that suggested people don’t wash them after every meal. This disturbed me enough that I’ll probably write a response article about it at a later date. Fake napkins, however, are NOT paper towels. Get some napkins, wipe your claws, then compost them.
- Relax. They’re your friends. They already know you kind of suck. That’s why you like them.