09/19/2012 12:18 EDT | Updated 11/19/2012 05:12 EST

Don't Stress About Hosting, Enjoy Your Guests

Stephanie Foley/Food & WIne

At some point, I don't know when, I started to plan a bit too much for hosting company. Perhaps I got so caught up that I became fussed, sucking the spontaneity out of what should be fun.

The realization came to me when I was outside on my patio with a stack of magazines and newspapers, and a friend said hello from the street. I invited them in for a drink and a catch up, and then immediately started a worried mental inventory.

What sort of state was my kitchen in? Is the bathroom mirror clean? Is there any ice in the freezer? Oh my goodness, is my place really suitable for company right now?

All these benign concerns are silly barriers to enjoying a good catch up with a friend. I'm happy they stopped by -- when I invite people to drop in, I mean it. I am glad that I parked my insecurities to enjoy their visit.

Those that profess to enjoy hosting often agree that the trick to keeping it stress free is to be prepared and organized. And I agree. The most fun I've had hosting parties are the times that I've done all the legwork well before that night. It helps me stay out of the kitchen, and lets me kick back and enjoy my guests. That said, a spontaneous get-together of impromptu guests comes together so quickly, the fun supersedes the stress.

Somewhere on this continuum, there is a happy medium. Relax. Enjoy their company. Revel in the understanding that they are there to visit you, celebrate something, eat and drink with you. They are not there to run a white gloved finger over surfaces, looking for dust.

Embrace the drop-in and enjoy your company. Guests are the best part about hosting.