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For me, entertaining is no laughing matter. But I seem to be experiencing a slight shift. It all started when my first guinea pigs in my quest to host more often began to arrive and my stress level was high as usual. There had been plenty of yelling and last minute cleaning and my husband wasn’t back yet from getting the food.

Just as I wondered why I wanted to put myself through this torture one more time the doorbell rang again and I was about to lose my mind. Our first guests were still standing in the entry, my husband had just come through a different door and I thought our other guests had arrived amidst this chaos.

But I was wrong. It was the pizza delivery for the kids. When I told the guy I thought he was someone else, he said, “Yeah, I get that a lot.” I started to laugh and then something shocking happened. I began to relax and the rest of the night would go down in entertaining history for our house.

The fact that I hadn’t done the more thorough cleaning for the first timers who were there didn’t seem to matter nor did anything else on my list that slipped my mind or didn’t get done because I ran out of time. It was a memorable evening filled with friends and fun, which is what entertaining should be about.

Our daughter kept the kids happy downstairs with some good old-fashioned games like Twister. It was a late night, which is always a good sign when no one wants to leave.

This month we hosted friends again, despite the fact that I lost my voice from a bad cold, which meant I couldn’t bark orders at anyone beforehand. We served a light lunch that lasted into the early evening hours, because once again, it was a good mix of people and the time flew by.

My daughter arranged a mini scavenger hunt for the kids and some of the adults had an impromptu guitar session that was quite a treat.

I’ve learned that keeping the mood light and having some humorous distractions never hurts. We used “HELLO my name is” labels for the food, such as “HELLO my name is salmon,” and I plan to keep a stash of funny stuff on hand for future hosting.

Some amusing gems that caught my eye at Catching Fireflies in Berkley (they also have stores in Ann Arbor and Rochester) include salt and pepper shaker holders made from spoons that will not only make your guests smile, but remind you to serve the seasonings in the first place.

I also like the dishtowels with witty sayings that can double as linens and the wine glass markers that can be used to write messages on other surfaces such as mirrors.

The stress just melts away when you’re enjoying yourself and that makes entertaining easier on everyone. I’m starting to like my new approach.

For information, call 248-336-2030 or go to catchingfireflies.com.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

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