I love hospitality. If we don’t have people over for a week or two I start to get antsy. I start trying to figure out who we can have over. I happily prepare dinner, pick up the house, light the candles, get the kid’s toys out, and turn the music on. It has started to become second nature to me.
But this was not always the case. At one point, having even friends over was a big ordeal. I had to spend a couple days cleaning and preparing just for friends to come over.
Thankfully, the Lord has grown me over the course of our marriage and we find ourselves inviting people we barely know into our home 2-4 times a month!
Slowly we learned the tips and tricks to making hospitality run smoothly and be enjoyable for both us and our guests.
A Beginner’s Guide to Hospitality
Don’t jump into this thinking you have to invite your entire church over next week. If you are not comfortable or used to having people over that you don’t know very well, start out with a simple goal.
When we began doing hospitality we had decided that once a month was a good pace. Quickly we fell in love with hospitality and upped that commitment to twice a month.
Most months we were inviting others into our home weekly but our minimum always stayed at twice a month so that we didn’t feel like a failure if one month turned out busier than usual.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot!
Practicing hospitality doesn’t have to cost a lot of money! Many people feel that they don’t have room in their budget to have families over.
But don’t stretch yourself. Start with a commitment of having a family over once a month and serve pizza! Everyone loves pizza, your meal doesn’t have to be complex or fancy.
Many families will over to bring something to dinner. LET THEM! If they ask, let them bring a dessert or side dish.
When first starting out practicing hospitality, it can quickly become overwhelming and sometimes emotions can run high. But try to be understanding when practicing hospitality.
Do you keep inviting a family over and they ALWAYS seem busy? Don’t take it personally or get offended. Families get busy, don’t take it personally; sometimes schedules just don’t match up. And many do not make hospitality a priority or even know that they should so be patient and understanding.
Do you live in an apartment? Don’t take offense if you invite a family over to your apartment only for them to offer it at their house. Here are 7 practical tips on practicing hospitality in an apartment.
Learn from Others
As you start extending hospitality, just wait and you will get invited over to other’s houses as well. Learn from what they do. When you get invited to other’s houses, make a mental note of what they do from the moment you walk in the house.
Do they have music playing? What kinds of questions did they ask? Did they get a card game out or offer coffee after dinner?
This is the best way to learn new tips and tricks. Offering coffee at the end of a meal is a great comfort to offer, but if you never drink coffee past 10am then you might not think about it. Glean from other’s experiences and wisdom.
Simple touches can make a big difference
Hospitality doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, like I said before. So even simple touches can make a huge difference on your house and hospitality.
Buy a couple candles and have them lit around the dining room. Can’t afford Yankee candles? Head to the dollar store and see what you can find. It’s all about the ambiance!
Pull out some toys from the closet to let kids play with or head to your local thrift store to pick some up for cheap.
When practicing hospitality, ask, ask, ask. Many people that we have invited over to our house, we felt nervous about asking…will they want to come over? We barely know them…do they even know who we are? But everyone loves to be invited over. So just ask!
Ask about food allergies or preferences. You don’t want to make a big meaty lasagna only to find out that one kid is allergic to tomatoes and Mom is a vegetarian!
Ask other women for their hospitality tips. Many women like to share what they do to make their home welcoming, so ask those around you how they do it!
Practice and Readily Learn
Unfortunately, there is not a ton written about hospitality in the Christian world. But what is out there, is excellent!
I highly recommend Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch.
I HIGHLY recommend Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Ennis and Tatlock
I also put together a list of my top 7 hospitality resources.
Remember, it’s not about your home, it’s about your heart.
At the end of the day your candles don’t matter. Your cooking skills are not what is on display. The dessert and music in the background will quickly be forgotten.
What will not be forgotten is your heart. What really matters is your heart for serving the Lord and opening up your home! Remember that and don’t sweat the details.