Why My Summer Parties Never Live Up to My Expectations (& That's Okay)

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When we became parents, my husband and I pretty much gave up going out altogether. I realize that's a fairly common theme among parents, but we truly never get out to socialize with our friends. Our dirty little secret? We don't even have a babysitter to call even if we could muster up the energy to venture out into a social situation.


While that's an issue all its own, my homebody self still wants to keep up with the outside world, catch up with friends in person, and feel like I'm in the mix from time to time. Early on, I decided it was much easier to bring the party to us. I had a history of throwing dinner parties in my pre-kid days, so it's not like this is my first entertaining rodeo. Yet somehow I always find myself thrown into chaos on the days leading up to my next shindig.

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Like right now it feels perfect to host lazy, laid-back barbecues for friends. Just throw some meat and veggies on the grill, whip up a few sides, and a dessert -- and I should be home-free. That is, until I start getting in my own way.

You see, I tend to have some seriously high expectations when it comes to any type of party, and the reality never quite matches up. For starters, I have two little boys who are adorable masters of destruction. Our place looks like a junior frat house every day of the week. But without fail every time we're inviting guests over, I'm positive I will go on a massive junk purge beforehand and clean the house until it's spotless. The reality? I'm shoving toy parts, shoes, papers, jackets, and other accoutrements into the closets just minutes before guests arrive. Always.

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My to-do list expands from there massively with household fixes I've been putting off that I'm determined to do before the barbecue. Paint the hallway (my youngest is a wall artist who works in crayon), refinish the patio furniture, clean out the garage, create the perfect party playlist, whip up homemade ice cream, set up an arts and crafts station for the kids, try some fancy recipes from my favorite cooking show, and greet guests in a full face of makeup, perfectly blown-out hair, and a cute new outfit. After all, I'm the hostess with the mostest, right?

The reality? Minutes before folks ring our doorbell, I'm grumbling about the hallway drawings and tiny handprints. The patio furniture? Yeah, I'm shoo-ing my husband outside to wash it down and remove any cobwebs. As it turns out, that perfect party playlist will have to consist of whatever is playing on one of those TV music channels (I typically settle on Awesomely '80s). The lofty homemade ice cream turns into store-bought Popsicles, and the arts and crafts area is a distant memory as I'm begging my kids to give me just five minutes to finish food prep.

In the end, I stick with my tried-and-true recipes that I could probably make blindfolded because I didn't have time to find the fancypants ingredients that the cooking show dishes required. Oh, and the coiffed hair, dewy makeup, and cute outfit? My hair is still wet from the brief shower I barely had time to take (but at least I squeezed one in!) and I typically answer the door in my sweats and with a bare face until there's a lull in greeting guests and I can change.

But here's the thing -- the company is always great, the food turns out delicious (if I do say so myself), and I always end the night wanting to host again. But, you know, next time I will have that hallway painted.


Photo via iStock.com/Jon Schulte

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