300th Post - GIVEAWAY! An Entire Planned RE Dinner Party!

Today is my 300th post!
One of the most rewarding things I've ever done was to start this blog, a little over 2 years ago.

What does, Real Entertaining for Real People really mean?
Did you know that when I started RE that I had committed to using only real-life images on my blog? Images that were real--not borrowed from other sources or websites--of real life dinner parties and happenings in my home - imperfect and all.

What was my purpose?
My purpose was to share my heart and vision for entertaining, in a very detailed way – and RE has grown to have a very large audience. I wanted to encourage women to put their perfectionism aside, to get out of their comfort zones, to learn that the "H" word is more than a church potluck dish - and be challenged to realize how attainable genuine hospitality really is.

Because I am just an imperfect gal, loving a perfect God, and willing to share my life and ideas with you!

I can win an entire RE Dinner Party plan?
Yes, one lucky winner will get an entire Dinner Party planned out – from the table setting to menu planning, all the way to helping with inviting and great conversation starters for your party! It will be easy yet creative, simple yet delicious, and it will suit the style, budget and taste of the person who wins this unique giveaway.

Or, start small!
For the reluctant person who is terrified to invite others into her home, I will give you ideas and we will start small!

How will this work?
After an introductory phone call, I will work with you to find out what you’d like to accomplish in a party or even a lower-key event such as a coffee date with a friend! You will tell me what your budget is, and then I will help you plan, coordinate, and execute my ideas for this special time!

How can I WIN?
Just answer this one easy question:

What's the most helpful thing you've learned about hospitality from my first 300 posts on Reluctant Entertainer? (Or if you are new to RE, what would you find helpful in future posts?)

300 is big!
Yes, 300 is big! And I can’t wait to read the comments that will originate from this crazy idea of mine. Lurkers are also invited to comment, just leave me a viable email address!

Will you join me in the fun? Post about this on your blog and I will enter you twice in the drawing. (Let me know if you do this.)

Winner will be announced Saturday, December 20th!

I can’t think of a more unique Christmas gift than this, can you? Why not give something that is helpful and meaningful, rather than a gift of more “stuff!”


Stacey said...

I have learned so much from your posts - truly.

1. Stay calm and enjoy the people.
2. Look for bargains like your shower curtain table cloths - brilliant!
3. Keep the food simple.
4. Be spontaneous and share!

I could go on and on!! I do enjoy your posts very much.

Stacey :)

SimpleElegance said...

Congratulations RE on your 300 Posts! . . . I recently started daily checking in at your site. I was referred by my niece, who knows me well and knew I would enjoy your blog. And I have! You have inspired me to create a blog too. . . . I love to entertain and my goal with each event is that God's presence would be evident to all who enter into our home.
Would love to be a part of the giveaway. Do I qualify?
God bless you & your family this Christmas season

"Hello... It's Me Again..." said...

If the food doesn't turn out like it should, serve it anyway and don't apologize for it, just smile and be gracious.

Robin said...

I love your style Sandy! I have learned so much from your website! I love your recipes and you inspire me to entertain more often. I have started including my daughter more in the preparations and am beginning to collect dishes. I have my eye out for a set of red ones....I already have white. I love seeing your examples for table settings and hope to see more of what you use for centerpieces (or do you use them much). Please keep posting your recipes, as they are always delicious! I would love more info on starting a Balcony Girls. Love, Robin srgrant1@verizon.net

Homesteader in Training said...

Hi Sandy,
I have gleamed so much from your entertaining wisdom lol. But the one thing that stands out is that it doesn't have to be hard. Use paper napkins and plates if you have too. I know for a fact that there are some beautiful looking plates and napkins that give a table a very festive and fun look,and no dishes to wash after wards so you can spend more time with guests.
If I win this the timing would be perfect as my husbands 40th birthday is Jan. 6 and I have no idea what I want to do but I want to make it special.
Thanks for all you do.

Leia said...

I love reading and am going through a 'God-washing' on opening myself and my home to people. It's not 'natural' to me - I want to wall myself away. Every post I read on here brings a little more joy and a little more faith. "Well, maybe I *could* do this... "

kelli said...

Oh my goodness what a fabulous giveaway! I have learned tons of things from your posts. I never felt like I was very good at decorating the table and looking at all your pictures has helped me lots. Starting small, staying relaxed, being flexible... all of that!
I also really love all the Balcony Girls posts, even though they're not always about entertaining per se. So many good lessons there too.

ValleyGirl said...

Wow. Happy 300 ~ and what an awesome giveaway!!!

I think what I've taken most to heart from your blog is to overlook imperfections in my home and the food I serve ~ or at least to not call attention to them! and to relax more and focus on being a friend rather than an entertainer ~ having people over is about THEM, not ME.

Donnetta (momrn2) said...

Love this idea!

I have learned even more not to stress about the preparations but enjoy the people so much more!

Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration to continue opening my doors and my heart! I have been blessed beyond measure in doing both!

And I've also posted to my blog! :-)

Kelly said...

Don't apologize if something doesn't turn out like you planned! Enjoy the moment and remember the reason for hosting in the first place....to fellowship with others!
Love your blog!

OKGardners said...

Congrats on #300. Doesn't time fly!

I have learned that Hospitality is simply getting together to share time and food. No perfectionism allowed! (Thank you!)

Betty in Oklahoma

Linda Lou said...

Congratulations on 300 posts! I have learnd that entertaining is ultimately about the people you are with, it could be hot dogs, a filet mignon or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but people will remember the time spent with you, not what your house looks like or if your dishes match.

melanie said...

I LOVE your blog! I may not comment all the time...but I do enjoy your posts! Here is to another 300!!!

Merry Christmas!!! :)

Gena Larson said...

300! Wow! Congratulations to you!

I have so appreciated your blog and I think the most helpful thing is the 10 Commandments for entertaining that I printed out and have posted on my bulletin board. I need to refer to it often! Anyway, please stay true to your heart in what you do on your blog because it is a blessing to so many of us.

I will also post on my blog.

GrammaGrits said...

Your blog has been soooo encouraging to minister through hospitality. I have always wanted everything to be perfect, and therefore haven't had friends in for meals as often as I'd like. You have been such an inspiration and blessing! God bless your family this Christmas season.

Em said...

WOW! 300 posts!!! What an accomplishment. I am so thankful that you have taken the time to share both your ups and downs of entertaining. It was a huge encouragement for me to get back out there and open my home up to friends and family- whether my house was looking good, bad or otherwise. What a relief to realize that I did not need to appologize for mistakes, I could serve a simple meal and still have fantastic results, and that fellowship is more important than a perfect meal. One week after finding your blog, I bought a simple journal where I wrote out a promise to myself, and more importantly to God, that I would open my home on a regular basis to those who were in need of a family, spiritual refreshing, or simply just the taste of a home cooked meal. Within one week of writing my promise, I had several frinds, family over on seperate occasions and it was the most enjoyable entertaining experiences I have ever had. Thank you for your encouragement to those of us who just needed to get back out there in the entertaining arena.

Em in WA

our2angels said...

Your blog has been a great encouragement to me and has really rekindled my passion for hospitality!
I love the simple dinner ideas and the "non perfectionistic" approach that you often share. GREAT reminder! And LOVE the recipes!
Thank you, what a blessings to me!
Merry CHRISTmas

Liz said...

I have learned SO much.
This is my favorite blog! The tip I love the most is that it's the conversation at a table that's important-the people at the table and what everyone has to offer. I try and emulate that now with my family.

Thank you for everything!

G. said...

Wow! This is so exciting Sandy! I've learned so much from reading but, one thing I will say that I always remember is that I don't need to be perfect, just me. I always love your ideas for simple yet elegant entertaining. I also really benefitted from your series on entertaining with kiddos. That was really helpful for the stage I'm in right now.
Thanks for giving us this opportunity to win such a fantastic prize!

G. said...

I also posted about this on my blog!!!

Amy @ HappyGoMommy! said...

Sandy - I absolutely love your blog and the inspiration you give! My favorite thing is that you encourage hospitality even if it is not formal and planned months in advance. I also *love* your recipes!! :) Thanks!

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

Congratulations on your 300th post! That is quite an achievement! I am just here to celebrate with you, not to enter the drawing...with Baby #2 due to arrive shortly, I am afraid I won't have time to benefit from such a lovely gift! :)

Ms. Tee said...

Congratulations on your 300th post! :)

I think the main recurrent theme I've gotten from your posts is to relax and enjoy - which seems to be hard for women. But you've helped me to relax more!

zentmrs said...

Congratulations on 300 posts! The thing I've learned from your blog (and it is something I have really taken to heart) is your first commandment - hospitality is a gift. I keep that in mind whenever anyone comes into my home. I think (I hope anyway) that it has made a difference to my guests.

Thanks for the great giveaway!

Ruth Ann said...

300! That's alot - congratulations!

I've never commented before - but your blog has been on my list of 'favorites' for several months now.

What have I learned? I could give lots of different answers. But I'll just confess one idea I 'stole' from you - all my kids' teachers are getting coasters made from ceramic tiles this Christmas!!

I especially enjoy your posts about your gatherings with the Balcony Girls - and I pray that there will be a woman like you in my girl's life when she is a teenager.

Christa said...

I think the best thing about your blog is the way love is creeping out. You do it because you want to and that is real hospitality. My family did not entertain often when I was small so I love getting a peak into your home and your heart. Congrats on the 300th post.

duchess said...

I love the posts that you do with your daughter's friends.
Teaching them character and values by welcoming them into your home for the little parties is wonderful. I'm hoping to use some of those ideas with my children & their friends as they get older.
Congrats on 300!

gracy said...

One of the things I love from your posts is that you post on events that ANYONE can do~ and break everything down into simple steps, in order to make things easier! :D Thank you for all the wonderful posts!

The Lind Family said...

It's all about being together...not about the food. With good conversation nothing else matter!

Sandy Toes said...

300 Posts...Wow!! How exciting!

Well, I love every post you do...I am so excited when I see that a new post pops up under your blog! You keep it simple but yet creative...you make it look so easy and seem to enjoy every minute. Your love for your family and not getting wrapped up in the material aspect is in all your writing!

Congrats to you my bloggy friend..wishing you 300+ more!
-sandy toes
p.s. I will post about your giveaway tomorrow:)

Lora said...

I love all of your practical tips and advice! I've only recently discovered your blog and started following it immediately. You do a wonderful job here! Congrats on 300 posts!

Smelling Coffee said...

Congratulations on your 300th post! God certainly does ues your blog to encourage hospitality in the lives of your readers! I've re-thought entertaining since I've been reading your blog. I love your 10 commandments - they are freeing to a perfectionist!

And, I love it that you entertain in your home, often saying that it is small. I grew up in a small home where there were often guests around our table (or wherever they could fit). My mom was a great hostess in our little humble home, and my Dad always knew he could bring guests home for a meal at any time. We entertained many "angels" in that way! I want to be more like that.

Congratulations, again, on the success of your blog!

Raquel, The Glamorous Life said...

i would say the biggest and most important thing i have learned and have used is to not appoligize for something not being enough, or grand or whatever it really does take away from the joy of what you are doing i think. and also i learned to have people help out and pitch in by bringing food too we dont have to do it all.

Mimi said...

What's in Your Hutch? April 2008.

I stumbled across your blog name on a friends and was intrigued.

The first entry was What's in Your Hutch and I was hooked! Imagine a practical Martha Stewart with a Biblical view!

Thanks for opening your home and lives and helping me to be inspired to extend hospitality on a more regular basis.

Jen said...

What is the most important thing I have learned???/
My answer is that I have joy when entertaining and enjoy it as much as I'm supposed too...
I have a dinner party set to come tonight...

Anonymous said...

The best advice that I recieved from you came from your Dec 2nd post. "I Will Not Lose My Joy".
Though there are so many others, this one hit home the most.
I really appreciate the fact that you tell us not to be afraid to host a dinner,big or small, fancy or thrown together. Just get them in your home.

Chris Gowing

Grace said...

300! congrats! i think the main thing i've gleaned from you is to just roll with whatever comes along. make the best out of every situation. i'm trying to, i promise. :)

cindy said...

Happy 300!!
We are so blessed to have you take time out of your day to uplift those of us who for various reasons, can't or won't entertain. I have done a complete 360 on the thought of entertaining. It isn't about how everything has to be perfect. It is truly about friendship. You have convinced me that my friends will remember the conversation much longer than what we had to eat or what my home looked like.
I will take on the role of being a servant. My attitude will now be one of "What can I do for you, my friend. Not what can you do for me??

The Pink Potpourri said...

great giveaway! i am new to your post (but glad i found it through this giveaway!) and look forward to getting some great, easy table decorating ideas.

thanks for hosting this giveaway and congrats on your 300th post!

Liz said...

This is the first time I have visited your blog but I think that there is so much I can learn therefore I do not have any suggestions.

Ginger@From The Cocoon said...

I guess the thing I've learned the most and that shows up in most of your posts is that it doesn't have to be perfect. This is huge for me because I am an OCD Perfectionist. I also love the way you incorporate frugality into your entertaining. I for one, am often intimidated by thinking that I can't entertain because I don't have the money to do it perfectly. See my dilemma?!

JuJu and Family said...

I've just found your blog and look forward to looking through it. I have two kids, oneo n the way, and a large family...I think time management, budgeting, and learning to enjoy the occasion through the chaos would be the help I'd need from you. Thanks and I can't wait to see what you have on your site. Take care
not sure if you neet the e-mail but here it is
julielupo at cox dot net

Dawn S said...

I don't know where to begin with all that I've learned from your blog - there is a wealth of information here! Probably the one thing that stands out in my mind is it doesn't have to be perfect and don't apologize for the imperfections.

Thanks for all you do and congratulations on 300 posts!!!!
Dawn S

Live.Love.Eat said...

Happy Blogiversary! I am so glad I found you or you found me so I could find you :) You're wonderful & an inspiration!!!!!

Jboo said...

Just found your blog from Sandy Toes -- I think I am going to need a big block of time to read all your posts. They are inspiring! And from a quick read -- I've learned that entertaining can be fun and not stress-filled or dreaded!

Back to reading more of your blog! Have a wonderfully Merry Christmas!


Cochran Family Blog said...

Congrats on 300! I am new to RE and I love love love it. I have already learned so much but the one thing that I get is ENJOY IT! Enjoy your family home and company for all that they are. I will be living in the moment this holiday with your tips in mind. By the way ramekins are the best thing that ever happened to me!!!!!!! Thanks for all you do and I hope your Family has another wonderful Christmas!

Org Junkie said...

Ahhh sweetie, congrats on 300! Your blog is always a stop for me. I've learned many things from you (including many great recipes!) but probably the biggest lesson is the simplicity that entertaining can be. It doesn't have to be a lavish stressed out affair.

I also truly enjoy the Balcony Girl posts.

So cool!

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful idea! I guess I'm a "lurker" since I never leave comments, but I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for inspiring so many! A few things that have jumped out at me are to enjoy your guests, delegate, and personally contact people if they don't RSVP (a pet peeve of mine too!).

Sarah K.

Kim said...

Where do I begin? First of I love your guidelines for entertaining. Secondly, I never thought about music while entertaining, until I started reading your blog. Third, I would say your recipes!

Thanks so much for this blog! I can't wait for you to write a book!! hint - hint!

Heather said...

Wow! 300 posts is impressive and I will say that each of your posts truly feel heartfelt and I love the way you keep entertaining practical and real. you have inspired me many times when I have felt overwhelmed with a party or friends over for dinner. I like that you find deals and incorporate them and are so ready to share recipe, tips and everything else!
Looking forward to 300 more posts!

It's Always Something Around Here said...

I just recently found your blog! And love it.

Anonymous said...

What an encouragement you have been! The main theme I've gleaned from you is to not forsake the command to hospitality... just do it! I don't have a blog, but enjoy reading yours and a few other ladies that are sharing their lives in a Titus 2 fashion. Merry Christmas!
Lisa in WA

Anonymous said...

I think the most helpful advice you've given is to serve simple food and enjoy your guests. Previously, I thought I had to "impress" company with an elaborate meal. Now, we entertain more because I'm not as concerned with everything and trying to macromanage.
Thanks for sharing your blog with us and for encouraging us to embrace hospitality.
Lynne in NC

Betsy said...

I love the purpose of your blog!

I'm giving a lot of gifts that can be consumed...coffee, tea, sweets, preserves, etc....no clutter..just enjoy it and it's gone! :)

emilymcd said...

Hi, Sandy-

I have learned to see entertaining as an act of hospitality and not as a "show". It means planning ahead and enjoying the guests.

What I particularly love about your blog is how you are at heart a FOODIE... you don't just serve mac 'n cheese... the point of your food is to bring people together. I like that.

Emily Dykstra

~j~ said...

Happy 300th Blog Birthday Sandy!!
you have definitely helped me start over again in a new, fresh and much more relaxing way :) I am so very,very blessed to have "stumbled" upon your blog one year ago, God does know the plans HE has for us!

Hannah said...

I have only been following for a while but the biggest thing I have learned is to actually entertain. It does not have to be expensive, hard or perfect. It just has to be fun.


Susie said...

Wow Sandy, 300 posts is amazing!

I have been blessed by your blog so much over the last year of reading it that I'm not sure where to begin on what has been most helpful-EVERYTHING HAS!

I love the menu ideas, your table settings, balcony girls lessons, and the willingness to share your heart and home with all of us.

Most helpful to me has been your constant reminders of not worrying about the size of your home or what others will think, JUST INVITE THEM. We have downsized quite a bit in the last year (from 2300sq ft to 1280 sq ft, and many times I have hesitated to entertain because of embarrassment. Right now, it has pretty much just been my closest girlfriends over for brunches and family get togethers.

This would be so fun to win, so maybe I could venture out into the world of couples. Thanks again Sandy for your sharing your talented gifts!

Jen said...

I tagged you on a meme and sent you an award if you get the chance pop over and check it out.

Ina said...

Thanks for your "real life" approach to sharing our homes and food with those we love. From you I have been challenged to STOP apologizing if things don't turn out quite right. It is a great reminder that the focus should be on making guests feel comfortable and not on me!

I have two nieces and would be thrilled to have the lessons you use for Balcony girls. Is this a book in your future?

Tarrah said...

I can't say just one thing :) You are a great inspiration to me from relaxing and enjoying the process, to planning things ahead to conversations, to hosting with youg kids. Thank you for all your wonderful ideas!

I do not want to be in the drawing though, Our place right now (through this move transition) is way too small to host a dinner :( I absolutely love having people over and this has been hard for me, but hopefully we won't be here too much longer.

I can't wait to read your next 300 posts!

Sarah said...

I truly love every post! I am an entertainer at heart, and I'm also a simple, laid-back entertainer. I have four small children, so I don't have as much time as I'd like. I'm planning on starting a "balcony girls group" with my daughter and her friends some time during '09. That is probably what has inspired me the most.

Miss G said...

aw man! I just commented on the wrong post. :)

wow, where to even begin? I am continually inspired and challenged by your blog and little things stick in my head. I have loved being hospitable from an early age but it's like your writing and experiences and the way you're living out your hospitality/mothering/mentoring/ministering pushes me a little further, reminds me to dig deeper, gives me pointers, etc. I am newly married, no kids and yet I begin to imagine my life farther down the road but know that it all needs to and can begin now, not "someday".

The first thing that came to mind when you asked what we've learned is the idea of cooking once for double the hospitality. I just need to jump in and try this "hands on".

The most recent post that has really struck a chord with me is on seeing and feeling. So important! So good to know I'm not alone in my desires to do the same.

Also, I am inspired by your balcony girls group. It reminds me some of a group that my grandma had for my girl cousins and I and some other little girls called "Butterflies and Rainbows". We did crafts and sang songs and had snacks and she taught us truths about friendship.

I am also intrigued by your group of moms cooking for your child's teacher. I am presently a teacher, no kids and wow, I know this would be a blessing. How exciting to think about being able to do this for someone else.

Finally, the importance you place on people is always encouraging and a constant theme, letting your kids cook different things and giving them credit for it and praising their efforts, incorporating your husband's decorating ideas, valuing old friendships and nurturing them, waiting to have dinner at 9:00 so you can share it with friends, not worrying about things being perfect, it's the being together that counts.

Thank you for the ministry you have here and share with us. Congratulations on 300 posts!!! Kelly

Kimba said...

300 posts! That's fantastic!

I think the most important thing I've learned from your posts at RE is to relax. It's ok to do less. I don't have to make myself crazy planning a complicated, expensive menu. It can be simple and easy because it's all about the fellowship.

Thank you so much for ministry in this area. You're the best!