If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d be happily hosting 40+ people for Easter, I would’ve questioned your sanity. However, for the last several years, that’s exactly what I’ve done!
Since living here in Jacksonville for the past 15 years, we’ve had the great fortune to be made part of quite the eclectic “family.” Through my parish choir, we’ve made some of the best friends of our lives. These people have opened their homes to us time and again, which has in turn opened our hearts even more to each other. For many of us, we don’t have a lot (or any) extended family in town to celebrate Easter with. So, years ago, our friends the Thomsons began hosting a big group of us “Easter orphans” at their home. About 8 years ago, we started alternating years with them and it’s since become one of my favorite days of the whole year.
It has taken a bit of practice and a lot of letting go of expectations, I’ll admit. I wasn’t always so carefree about having that many people to my house. But over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks to taking (most of) the stress out of the mess and I’d love to share them with you!
We’ll talk a little bit about the food, the decor, traffic-flow, and opening your home. Now, while these are terribly timely for the holiday at hand, the principles I’m sharing today don’t only apply to Easter. You can use them for any celebration! So, let’s get to it!
Are these not the cutest Easter cupcakes you ever did see? My friend Nicole made them a couple years ago and brought them to the party. Which leads me to my very first and probably most important tip for you…
Delegate, delegate, delegate!!
Friend, when you are hosting a bunch of families at your house, please do not feel like you have to provide all of the food. I mean, unless that’s really your jam. Then knock yourself out. (The Lazy Genius podcast has a great episode on feeding a crowd, if that interests you!)
For me and my sanity, potluck is the way to go. I’ll always provide the main meat for the meal and my strawberry cake has become a must-have. But other than that, our guests bring pretty much everything else! There are a couple reasons for that. First, when you invite friends who are like family to your home, they are naturally going to want to bring something to help. Let them! Second, it can be really expensive to feed that many people a holiday meal, ya know? Share the wealth! Third, it will save you hours upon hours in the kitchen. True story.
When we host Easter, I’ll make a turkey and buy a ham. Yes, I am aware that I could make a ham and probably save myself some money. However, nobody on earth makes a ham that is as tasty as a Honeybaked Ham and that’s the God’s honest truth. Along with those, I’ll make some gravy to go with the turkey and have some rolls on hand in case people want to make sandwiches.
For the rest of the meal, I rely on my friends. Now, there are a couple different tools you can use to avoid side-dish-duplications or you could leave things up to chance. That usually works out just fine, honestly. If you use Evite for your invitations, there is a “what to bring” feature you can use to help your guests sign up for sides, drinks, desserts, etc. Sign Up Genius is another great option that can stand alone if invitations aren’t necessary.
Some recipes I’ve made to take and share in the past that have been real crowd-pleasers are:
Decorations and Using the Space You’ve Got
One of my favorite things about traffic flow at our Easter party is that we can just throw open the doors to the back porch and immediately triple our amount of usable space. Outside entertaining is casual and family friendly — two of my very favorite things!
We have some folding tables and chairs, but always end up borrowing some from the neighbors. The food all goes in the kitchen, mostly on the island. Which then, naturally, means that there are always half a dozen people hanging around there. We keep the drinks in coolers on the back porch, but also have big dispensers of water and lemonade inside. Next to those, we keep the solo cups and sharpies so that people can decorate/identify their own drinking vessels.
I always keep the decorations super simple for this party. Usually, I just pick up some fresh flowers from Costco or Trader Joe’s. But if you’d like to add to the beauty of your party, check out these links!
Be a Heart Designs has just released an Easter collection of disposable table wear that is totally religiously themed and absolutely beautiful! No bunny rabbits or eggs here, but great colors and perfect messages.
Now, I will readily admit that my plates, utensils, and cups usually come from Costco and are of the nondescript variety. But I’ve always had good luck finding pretty things at Hobby Lobby, too!
Open Your Heart and Your Home
If anything, I hope this post has reminded you that opening your heart and opening your home doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be stressful! You don’t even have to mop your floor before that many people show up!! Here’s a little secret for you…I never do! I figure that if 40 some-odd people are going to be traipsing in and out all afternoon and eating all over the place, the mopping can happen after they leave.
When you invite a lot of people into your home, they aren’t coming with an intention of judging you or expecting you to entertain them every moment. That many people will always find a way to entertain themselves. And at Easter, putting the big kids in charge of an egg hunt for the the little kids is always a fun idea!
But however you party this Easter, whether a large crowd for you is 14 or 40, I hope you have a fantastic celebration of our Risen Lord!!