We met in the parking lot of the movie theater, bought our tickets, and settled into our plush seats. We'd been looking forward to hanging out with these friends, and going out to a new movie seemed just the thing to do. They joined us in the theater, we briefly exchanged greetings and conversation, but we quieted down once the previews started so that we wouldn't be too rude.
We sat in close proximity to each other for more than two hours, but once the movie was over, we couldn't shake the feeling that we'd barely interacted.
Once Andrew and I started establishing a house together, we found ourselves more reluctant to hang out with our friends in the same way we had through college. Not only did staying up late start to lose its luster (getting up at 5:30am for work tends to do that!), but the money we were spending just to find a communal space like a restaurant or theater seemed ridiculous when we had a home of our own that we're willing to share.
Hospitality is huge for Andrew and me. We love opening up our home to friends and family and creating a space where they can feel heard, loved, and well-fed. So naturally, once our Cityhouse was able, we started hosting dinners and get-togethers. We purposely don't have the Internet (as you saw) or a television, but we've never felt that our gatherings were lacking in entertainment. In fact, our interactions have been beautifully present, intentional, and rich...and no one had to leave a tip a the end of the night!
So! With that said, here's our top 8 ways that we enjoy entertaining guests that are low-cost, unplugged, and really fun.
1. A bowl of unshelled nuts
Yes, you heard me right. It's not just for grandparents and holidays! A simple bowl of still-in-the-shell, mixed nuts (or any other fiddly food) is a surprisingly effective conversation-keeper. Especially in the winter, we love to build up a big fire in the woodstove and put out two bowls--one full of nuts, one for spent shells. We've spent hours talking with friends about everything, and never felt bored. Its simple, and we laugh over shells that go flying across the room.
2. DIY coffee shop
You could meet in a cafe, and it is often a nice, calm setting. But if you've got a whisk, some herbs and spices, and a bit of milk, you can often replicate $5 drinks for pennies. There's tons of recipes online for complicated recreations, but we find that we're content with just simple fixes.
Vanilla Latte? Just heat 1/2 a cup of milk with sugar and a half-teaspoon of vanilla and whisk your coffee into it.
Hot Chocolate? 1 Tablespoon sugar, 1.5 Tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/2 cup milk, a dash of salt and vanilla and 2/3 cup water and you're set. Or replace the water with coffee and you're in BUSINESS.
Are you still seriously paying for tea? BOIL WATER. Add leaves. So good, and there's so much more tea out there than Lipton.
3. A Bonfire
Maybe being a camp counselor for 7+ years did something to my brain, but to me, there's nothing better than a campfire (and now that we're adults, I don't have to scream camp songs anymore. No offense to Da Moose, Baby Shark, and Princess Pat.) Active, crackling flames are alive, mesmerizing, and It's one of the times where you can sit in silence and its never awkward.
4. Craft Night
As an artist, I have a lot of art stuff on hand at any given point. I love to share them with others (except my special Filbert paintbrush. It is mine and mine alone.) But you don't need to be a painter to be able to create things. I have had many fantastic evenings with friends by throwing down some paper and markers, playing good music, and telling them to bring any projects they have been working on. Even if you're not artistic, just doodling shapes can be incredibly conducive to good conversation!
5. Food Exchange
I grew up on church potlucks. I loved having a bunch of people come together over food, exchanging recipes and conversation. No one person was responsible for making the entire menu, and everyone was always satisfied. (And there were these cheesy potatoes that always showed up. . I don't know what was in them, but one lady always made these ridiculously gooey, crunchy potatoes that I inevitable got 3 servings of).
There's no reason you can't continue this as a way of having friends over! Have each guest bring an element of a meal (let the one who says he can't cook bring something to drink or some fresh fruit) and the recipe on a little set of cards. It's a great way to have a bountiful dinner without having one person do all the work, and you may even end up with some new favorite recipes!
6. Game Night
This doesn't need much explanation. Just don't force your friends and family to a long game of Monopoly...no one deserves to have to sit through that game.
7. Skill Swap
Much like a potluck, but this time with abilities. Do you know how to build a fire without matches? Can you bake fantastic bread? Is your skill with a harmonica unparalleled? Pop a big bowl of popcorn and have fun teaching each other the things you know best.
8. Go Hiking!
If you're not taking advantage of the trails or park near your house, GO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE TRAILS OR PARK NEAR YOUR HOUSE. They're free, often absolutely beautiful, and great communal places for picnics, ultimate frisbee, or just walking and talking in the forest. Some of my best conversations have been on a trail (it is how Andrew and I dated, after all!)
Of course, restaurants, theaters, and cafes have a place, and can be very enjoyable. We prefer now to see these venues as a treat, though, and not the sole way to connect with our community and family. It not only takes less money, it is often much more intentional and authentic of an interaction for us, too. We find that we don't miss the electronic stuff in the slightest.
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
We love writing for these fine folks as well!
|Simple Life Homestead||
Simple Life Homestead