Let’s chat about hospitality~
When is the last time you asked a friend, “Are you free for dinner this Saturday?” How often do you invite others to join you at the table to share a meal? Are you afraid or intimidated by the thought of entertaining? Or are you one who relishes in inviting people over for a casual dinner or party? Many people don’t practice hospitality in their homes because of fear.
Hospitality isn’t about inviting people into our perfect homes. It is about inviting people into our imperfect hearts.
You may use excuses for why you never have people over to your home:
- You are too busy
- You are not a gourmet cook
- Your house is a mess
- Your kitchen/house/yard doesn’t look the way you want it to
- It costs too much money to entertain
Do any of these excuses resonate with you? Consider changing your thinking. You are not inviting people over because you want to impress them, but because you want to visit with them. You are inviting others as an act of service.
Hospitality is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. It is simply an opportunity to show love and care to others. Does this mean you have to have a perfect house to entertain, one that has been professionally decorated and is immaculate? Absolutely not! When people come over, they are not looking for dust bunnies or Monet paintings. They are hoping to be welcomed and made comfortable. People are looking for fellowship, friendship, and an invitation into your life. They want to join you at your table and break bread with you.
“Hospitality is not about you. It’s about making others feel warm and welcome.” Sandy Coughlin
The Plan for Entertaining
- Invite your guests
- Plan your meal
- Make your home comfortable
- Welcome your guests
- Have fun!
1. Invite your Guests- Decide who you want to have come and then ask! You can either ask in person, phone them, or send a text.
2. Plan your meal– You do NOT have to serve a five-course meal when entertaining. Keep a list of great recipes you enjoy and make those. You can keep it simple, and you don’t have to spend a fortune. You can serve soup and salad or tacos or chili or BBQ. It does not have to all be homemade, either. You can serve bagged salad or a store-bought dessert. Entertaining should not be stressful.
*Remember that your guests are coming because they want to spend time with you, not to judge your cooking skills. Plan ahead if cooking several things at once makes you anxious. Make the dessert the day before or the mashed potatoes. In fact, many things can be cooked ahead, frozen, and reheated, if necessary. Aim to have most everything finished 10 minutes before your guests arrive (unless you plan to serve the main course a little later.)
**Often when people get invited to someone’s house, they offer to bring something. It is up to you if you want your guest to contribute to the meal by bringing a salad, side dish, or dessert.
3. Make your home comfortable- Tidy your living room and kitchen area, and clean the guest bathroom. Your home does not have to pass the “white glove” test to entertain. You may want to have music playing as your guests arrive. Being a gracious host means making your guests feel comfortable. You may like lit candles or a vase of flowers on the table. Think about what would help you feel welcome in someone else’s home and do that.
4. Welcome your guests- Be ready when your guests arrive and greet them at the door. Offer a beverage and something to nibble while you finish up last minute preparations. Your appetizers do not need to be fancy. You can set out a cheese plate, chips & dip, nuts and dried fruit, or a vegetable tray.
5. Have fun! Try not to be stressed if everything isn’t perfect. Think ahead about conversation starters (Google them!) and questions you may want to ask if you don’t know your guests very well. Put fear aside and enjoy your guests. You will be so happy you did.
Tips if YOU are the guest (good manners go a long way!):
- Bring the host a gift (wine, flowers, candle, candy, etc.)
- Be on time
- If you brought any food with you, don’t bring the leftovers home unless the host insists.
- Offer to help with the clean up
“My 8 Entertaining Tips” by Emily Schuman
“5 Habits that Lead to a Hospitable Home” by Sandy Coughlin
“How to Have a Fancy Dinner Party For Only 50 Dollars” by Bon Appetit
Books I own & recommend:
Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition
The Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin (this book is great and comes with simple recipes)
Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, by Shauna Niequist
Might you consider entertaining some friends this coming new year?
*If you need dinner ideas or recipes, please feel free to email me, and I will send you some of my favorites!
“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.” Shauna Niequist