Romans 15:7 "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling"
Romans 12:13 "Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality"
Hospitality has been instilled in me since I was a little girl. I cannot even remember a week as a child where we were not hosting someone or preparing to do so. My mom is Sicilian and her love for fellowship, cooking, and conversation flows out of her naturally. She is on a whole other level of being gifted with hospitality because her cooking is unbeatable and I have yet to try anything less than amazing from her. She thrives off chaos and a busy kitchen and I got a very small ounce of her special gift (minus the love for chaos).
From the moment Nick and I first became friends to this very day, we have always clicked on the love of spending quality time with family and friends. Whether it's us hosting at our own home, meeting friends for drinks, or visiting friends--we both genuinely love being with people. Hospitality looks different for each person and family but should always be a special way of sharing your heart with others. You do not have to cook a five course meal on your best china with the best decorations to be hospitable towards someone. In fact, one of my favorite ways to show hospitality is during the spontaneous visits when a friend comes over or when my husband calls and tells me a friend is joining us for dinner. One awesome reason to love having people over is because you don't need to get a sitter or leave the comfort of your own home to do so. I love being able to have a good time with friends and family without having to get in the car and load my family up.
When you are thinking about having friends or family over it is important to keep in mind three things: 1) the conversation, 2) the environment, and 3) the attitude that you have that relays hospitality. When I was a new wife I remember spending so much time preparing and cleaning up the food for our guests that by the time everyone had left I still had yet to sit down and actually be present with our guests. I now have to remind myself of what I enjoy most when going to someone's home in order to remember how to create a special visit for my own guests.
Some things that help Nick and I best host people over and things we consider beforehand is this:
- Asking our guests if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions so we can accommodate accordingly (I once made spicy food for someone who could not eat spicy meals, I felt awful).
- Make your home presentable. I don't think it's possible to make a home spotless when you have little ones running around but a clean and put together home makes guest feel like there has been thought and effort put into their stay.
- Consider the time of day you are having guests over. If they have young children maybe have an early dinner or if they need to get a sitter after they put their kids down consider a dessert and drinks night. I also like to tell them what time the event might end. Our kids always wake up around 6:30 AM and if we have something going on in the morning I want to be prepared to take care of them and not be totally exhausted from the night before.
- Plan your menu and make foods that you know how to prepare. It's not a good idea to experiment with a new recipe when you're having guests over for dinner! Stick with those tried-and-true recipes.
- Go over with your spouse how they can best help you. Nick is usually in charge of trash, getting drinks, and watching the kids if they are up.
- Get your guests involved. If someone asks how they can help, include them. It makes them feel special and it helps you out.
- Set the tone with music. I like to pick music based on who is coming over and what season we are in (also, the occasion or food can set the music). It adds a little background flare if there are ever any quiet moments.
- Think of topics you want to talk about and topics you want to avoid. If you have friends coming over who do not have kids yet maybe try avoiding talks about your kids bowel movements for the day or how amazing they are at their new tricks.
- If kids are coming over, hide some toys. I do not mind if our friend's kids play with any of our toys but in order to not make my house a complete toy zone I like to put away problem toys, puzzles, small pieces, and just keep the essentials out for play.
- If your guests ask what to bring, think of something simple or tell them to bring nothing. They are your guests so make it a treat for them to come over and never have prepare a huge meal. I usually ask guests to bring a beverage of their choice, or nothing at all. They might show up with flowers or nothing in response, as requested.
- Keep a journal of who came over, when, and maybe what you ate. For a few years now Nick and I have kept a little journal of who we have over. It helps us remember to pray for our friends and also reminds us of who we can have over more often.
Ina Garten says in one of her amazing cookbooks to treat your family like guests and your guests like family. This has always stuck with me. She also likes to treat friends who expect something fancy to an informal meal and guests who expect the basics to a fancy meal. I love the idea of wowing guests with the unexpected.
Hospitality might not come as natural to you as it does for others. My suggestion would be to start small. Get your spouse and kids involved and excited over the idea of sharing your home with others. You do not have to spend a lot of time or money to show kindness and love toward others. Start by having a play date, girls night, encourage your husband to have a guys night, organize a ladies coffee date, go on a walk with a friend, do a s'mores night, light up the fire pit and sip on hot beverages outside, etc.
Sharing your home and family with others conveys more than just hospitality, it is demonstrating Christ's love to others. It might not always be convenient or easy but what a blessing it is to be kind to others,expecting nothing back in return.