I always used to tell people that my husband and I loved to entertain. What I mean is we love to have others over to our home, feed them, fellowship with them, laugh with them, etc. I wanted everything perfect. But, then I learned the true meaning behind entertaining. I believe entertaining is more of a show. To entertain I would want to be sure that my house was in perfect order, every nook and cranny was clean and spot free. I would want the prettiest sitting room, the nicest furniture, the perfect ambiance...etc. We have all been entertained in someone's home. We are welcomed in, served wonderful food, tea, coffee, whatever refreshment, made small talk, etc. It is an enjoyable experience most of the time (unless of course you don't know anyone else at the get together, then my friend, it can be uncomforatble). But, it is well...entertaining.
On the other hand, you have hosting. What is the difference anyway? A host is someone who provides a service to others. So, think about it this way. If you are entertaining you want the surface to be a certain way for the liking of or entertainment of your guests. If you are hosting, you are soley interested in providing a service to others...making them feel at ease, comfortable, well cared for. Have you ever been to a gathering like that. Where you almost felt as though you were the guest of honor, as did everyone who came?
For instance, if I were entertaining someone for dinner I might want to make a very wonderful meal (one I am best at making of course) that had an appetizer, sides, and of course a wonderful dessert. I would likely hope that the guest noticed the effort that I had put into the meal and maybe even the table setting. In essence, it would kind of be about me...you know...look what I did for you.
If I were hosting someone for dinner, it would be more like asking the person what their tastes were, do they have any specific aversions or allergies. If there are children involved I may ask what the children really like to eat. I would plan for the unexpected and be sure I had things that would help my guests out (maybe an extra highchair or booster seat, special snacks, etc) It becomes less about look at what I have done for you and more about what can I do to please you. It is not about feeling inconvenienced for what the persons needs are, it is asking what they are with an attitude of service. It is a very slight difference but it is a difference.
I am going to keep this in mind as the holidays wind down and I am going to try to always be a host first and an entertainer second.