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The Reluctant Entertainer: Every Woman's Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality

By Sandy Coughlin
Bethany House

6030 East Fulton Road
Ada, MI 49301

We know that is it Scriptural to open our homes to others, but many of us lack the confidence to do that. Addressing this conflict and offering ways to overcome our excuses, Sandy Coughlin has written The Reluctant Entertainer. This is a quality book, and I'm not only referring to content. It is hard cover, with glossy pages and full-color photos, and it is written to the homemaker who wants to have people over more often but isn't sure how to go about it.

With a tone that is Christian but never preachy, the author tackles the many roadblocks to entertaining, such as a shortage of money, time, or skills. Author Sandy Coughlin also addresses perhaps the biggest roadblock to entertaining: the impossible and immobilizing goal of perfectionism. Sandy lays out how to keep the invitation, menu, plan, décor, and even the event itself simple.

One chapter is devoted to finding your own personal style of entertaining, with lots of inspiration for theme parties, where to find ideas, easy ways to spruce up your home, and innovative table settings. While moving even further into developing your own style, the author talks about the fun of incorporating all the senses when you have people over.

Recipes are interspersed throughout the chapters as well as in an appendix; however, it is not the healthiest collection. Even the veggie recipes call for a fair amount of butter, cheese, eggs, or meat. I would have liked to see some recipes reflecting the current trends of low-fat and less meat and dairy.

Conversation is the topic of two chapters, validating its importance and acknowledging that this is an area of deficiency for some of us. We've all been to parties where the conversation lagged or never got beyond surface talk. In these chapters, Sandy Coughlin shares personal struggles in this area as well as effective strategies for overcoming them.

This book goes beyond the vehicle of hosting to deepening our relationships and extending the concepts to our lives in general--not just when we are entertaining. The Reluctant Entertainer is a lovely book full of great ideas to help you open your home more often, more easily, and more comfortably to those around you!

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, January 2011

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