One of the things I love MOST about being a homemaker is HOSPITALITY…just the thought of it makes me grin from ear to ear. By God’s grace our home has been a place for much love, laughter, food and getting to know many friends and family over the years! Hospitality, like most things in my life has been a learning process for me. From the basics of cooking, cleaning and how to host I have learned so much the last 5 years or so. Realizing the difference between hospitality and entertaining has been important for me too. Also, learning to invest in others rather than caring so much about what people think of me or my home has been key! (if you care too much about what people think to the extent that you don’t have anyone over- it’s pride! Set aside your pride and invite people into your life)
Almost a year ago a sweet friend and mentor of mine spoke on the topic of hospitality from a very practical sense. On top of there being many great and beneficial scriptures on biblical hospitality there is much wisdom that can be learned from women who’ve been there and done that for 20+ years. I found this friend’s teaching on “how to prepare your home for hospitality” so encouraging and helpful and wanted to share with all of you the insights and ideas she has. She gave me the liberty to tweak and pull out whatever I wanted SO without too many changes here it is….
PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR GUESTS
1. Preparation is key to your enjoyment of the event. There may be some people you can have over for a meal without much planning, such as your family or very close friends, but if you want to begin to open your home to anyone outside of that small comfort circle, you must prepare ahead. In fact, perhaps it is this very idea that you CAN prepare ahead that will give you courage to practice hospitality. You can be ready! You can be free to enjoy conversation! You can relax!
2. Check your calendar. Choose a date to have guests when you have time to prepare, preferably a few hours the day before for cleaning and early food preparation and a few hours on the day itself. If you don’t think you have this kind of time or if you find yourself not protecting the time you set aside to prepare, then you and your husband need to consider how to make hospitality a higher priority in your lives.
Can you have guests without giving so much time to preparation? Yes, clean the bathroom sink, clear the kitchen table, order pizza, get out leftovers or make pancakes! But generally, if you are preparing a meal and you want your house to be reasonably clean and you want the hearts of your family to be ready to receive and minister to your guests, you need to set aside some time to prepare.
3. Decide who to invite. Among believers: who has God given you? Who ministers to you or to whom you minister? Who has been put in your life because you serve with them or are in small group together or Sunday school? Who helps you move forward in your walk with Christ or who would you like to help? Don’t think you need to be best friends with everyone at church! Among unbelievers: neighbors, co-workers, share common interests like coaching your kids’ soccer or exercise class. Who has God put in front of you? Call them 1-2 weeks before and then confirm the day before. (Sarah side note: Invite the singles in your church! Especially those who live alone…adopt one and have them over once a week or on a regular basis if your schedule allows)
4. Do whatever cleaning is necessary ahead of the day, except for last minute cleaning such as the bathroom sink and putting away the clutter from the day.
5. Plan and prepare the food and beverages. You should be in the habit of already making weekly menus for your family. Then, when you know a family is coming over that week it’ll be easy to add that meal into your menu and you’ll be sure to have enough of what you need. Writing out all of the things you will need will help you to be prepared at the grocery store and to avoid last minute stress before your guests arrive.
6. Prepare table and seating so there is enough room for everyone. Set up extra tables or get extra chairs if needed. Set up or ask your guests to bring equipment for children. (Sarah side note: I am always put at such ease when I arrive somewhere and they have a chair set up for the baby, kid plates, sippy cups and silverware or ask me to bring them with me) Decide where each person is going to sit so that parents are by children or that conversation is distributed about the table. Avoid all the women at one end of the table and all the men at the other. To avoid being questioned about where you want people to sit you could make simple place cards from folded index cards or let your children make them from colored paper and stickers. Choose a tablecloth or place-mats and add flowers or candles ahead of time if you are going to use them. These little creative additions aren’t necessary but could make your preparing more fun and your guests enjoyment more warm!
7. Set the table. This isn’t always necessary for informal events but if you’d like to and aren’t sure how to set the table properly, ask a mentor or look it up online. Put dishes, drinking glasses, and flatware on the table or ready nearby. Get out necessary cups or bowls for children. Think about what is needed to serve the food: large spoons, trivets for hot dishes, baskets for bread, salt and pepper, butter, jam, condiments, ice. Have ready everything that is needed for dessert such as additional forks, dishes or bowls. Be ready to make tea or coffee. This will cut down on the temptation for stress or anxiety during the visit.
8. Review names of guests and their children. Discuss possible conversation topics and questions you can ask them with your husband and/or family. What would you like to know about your guests? Suggestions: their family background, employment, hobbies and interests, how a couple met, how they came to know Christ, what has helped them to grow in their faith, prayer requests. Thinking ahead like this can help eliminate unnecessary awkward silence and can bless your conversations with Christ-centered discussions!
9. Think about the needs of your guests. Discuss with your husband what you will do when your guests arrive to make them feel welcome and to help them settle in. Is there room for their coats in the closet? What about shoes? What room will you invite them into? Will you offer beverages? How soon will dinner be served? If children are coming, think about age-appropriate toys and have them ready. (Sarah side note: I can’t explain how special it has been for us to go to someone’s house that didn’t have small children and see age appropriate toys and room for my kids to play!)
10. Think about your goals for the evening. Discuss with your husband how you want to spend the time after dinner. Do you want to suggest a game or move the conversation to more comfortable chairs? Will you let your guests help with the clean up or save it until after they leave? Will your husband offer to pray before they leave?
1. Browse over these 10 things and think about one or two things you want to take action on.
2. Write out a hospitality goal for the next few months. Suggestions: talk to your husband about how you can make hospitality a higher priority, have one family from church per month over for dinner, invite unbelievers over for a meal or dessert, add a single person to our family dinner every other weekend, try having someone over after church on Sunday, invite couples over for dinner and games, try one company menu on my family and then make it for company, use Sunday evenings for hospitality.
3. Discuss your goal with your husband and agree together on it. Share your goal with an older woman or a friend who will take it seriously and help you to follow through on it.
Weren’t this dear saint’s ideas and applications helpful? Please share your goal below!
My goal is to have a family or couple over once a week. When we lived in Green Bay we tried different themes to help us think of who to invite: Newly married couples…Singles…Church Elders and their families…families with a lot of children (they don’t get invited to people’s houses much if ever!). Now that we are in a new city and new church I am excited for the possibilities here!
Whether your house is big, small, old or new
or your life is busy or slow.
There’s always time for a family or friend
or someone new to know.
It’s not about perfection, wittiness
or a flawless flashy meal.
It’s sharing your home and Christ
and loving kindness that is real.
With a dash of love
and a heart that’s prepared
Hospitality is a gift
we all must share!