Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Review: The Reluctant Entertainer

True hospitality is not about being perfect, cooking a fancy meal, or spending a lot of money. Rather, it's about an open door and an open heart.

Popular blogger Sandy Coughlin offers a simple but savvy approach to help women break free of the anxieties that keep them from opening their homes.

Emphasizing the forgotten goal of entertaining--connecting deeply with others--she shows how women can use the gifts and talents God gave them to reach out in love.

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I don't know about you, but I am definitely a reluctant entertainer. So when the opportunity arose for me to review this book, I was I couldn't wait to have it in my hot little hands.

Just look at that book cover. Does it just ooze charm and hospitality? And that's just the cover. It's full of ideas inside.

Author Sandy Coughlin is absolutely delightful and her passion for entertaining and building relationships pours from every page. Her gift of hospitality is contagious.

She touches on every topic ~ who to invite, how to serve, what to serve, how to set a lovely table, how to ensure that conversation flows and includes everyone, and my personal favourite... how to let go of perfectionism and perceived expectations.

I am a very nervous hostess. Let me rephrase that for you. I'm a very, very nervous hostess. I usually start stressing out moments after the invitation has been given. What will I serve? What if my house isn't clean enough? Will they notice that spot on my carpet? Is my house good enough to have guests over? What will we talk about?

And so on, and so on.

I have missed countless opportunities for fellowship because of my internal dialogue.

Sandy talks about where to find great table settings and decor on the cheap but classy, how to set a mood and to reach all five senses.

And the recipes... Oh I have to tell you about her mouth watering recipes! They are interspersed throughout her book for dishes like Chicken Divan, homemade ice cream and Dill Bread.

But that's not all. She even gives several suggestions (including recipes!) of appetizers, main courses and desserts! I love it when the guesswork is taken out of entertaining.

She told me (yes, by reading her book she is, in my mind, my new bestie) how to organize and stock my pantry so I'm always organized and ready. She told me how to budget my time so I'm not running around like a chicken with her head cut off on Dinner Party Day. And - oh, take a moment to savour this thought with me - she even encourages that everything be ready to go one hour before the guests arrive so I can relax.

I cannot even imagine what that would feel like, not after years of doing that final 3-minute-race-around-the-house-to-make-sure-that-things-are-ready-while-shrieking-at-my-husband-and-children thing I always seem to do.

But this book has sparked something in me and makes me feel like maybe I don't have to have a perfect table, (or carpet, or decor, etc) to have guests over. That hospitality isn't about showing people what you have or don't have. It's about connecting with others in a comfortable setting and making them feel welcome in my home.

I can do this!

If you are a reluctant entertainer like I am, I strongly suggest that you pick up this book. It is more than worth it.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".



  1. This sounds right up my alley. I love to entertain but often don't simply because of all the work it takes while taking care of two small children. But I should definitely do it more often - even with all the work. I do so love it.

  2. I would love to read that book! Thanks for reviewing it! I am in the same boat as you!
    I do love to cook for a big group, but then I'd like to hide in a closet when they actually arrive! :) Can't wait to read it!!

  3. Why am I picturing you as the lady in the TV commercial at Christmas time with EVERYTHING prepared, except that she has no pants on? LMAO!!!

    So, when shall I expect my dinner invitation?

  4. Why am I picturing you as the lady in the TV commercial at Christmas time with EVERYTHING prepared, except that she has no pants on? LMAO!!!

    So, when shall I expect my dinner invitation?