How to Keep Your Hospitality Simple This Summer (So You’ll Actually Do It!)

By Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer

Perhaps the most effective and purposeful way to build a relationship with someone is to have them into one’s home.

This personal environment quickly breaks down barriers and helps people feel that they truly know us. An open home is an open heart in many ways.

However, although I have the vision and heart for hospitality, it is not my particular “skill set.” Some people have a knack for beautiful place settings and elegant meals –but not me. I can easily run around looking frazzled, somehow not on top of any single thing and a head that’s spinning.

Nonetheless, because of the relational significance and biblical mandate of hospitality, I’ve figured out ways to keep it simple and make it doable and fun. And thus, I actually do it …and love it!

how to keep your hospitality simple this summer

I’ve learned that, most of the time, people are not longing to be impressed, they are longing to be loved.

All the hoopla and stress us “non-skilled hostesses” put ourselves through is really unnecessary. We can show just as much love through simple, relaxed and low-key hospitality. I would suggest that the most important component is simply getting people through our front doors!

So whether it’s someone from church, a coworker or acquaintance God is calling you to reach out to, or a perhaps a neighbor or good friend, banish your excuses, use these simple ideas to make a plan, and put it on the calendar!

Here are some suggestions to do just that.

Keep Your Hospitality Simple this Summer:

1. Have a watermelon bust!

Invite people over and cut into some watermelons together! This is perfect for a balmy summer’s evening. Plan to have people over after dinnertime. There are still hours of evening sunlight left to enjoy and no school in the morning for the kids. You can even plan an epic watermelon seed spitting contest on the front driveway!

2. Desserts or appetizers only

In the same way, you can avoid making a meal by having people over for fun desserts or appetizers! Perhaps make homemade ice cream or strawberry shortcake. Or even better, everyone brings a dessert or appetizer to share!

3. Take the party outside

If you have access to an outside area, take advantage this summer! This way your home won’t get messy. If you have a grill, plan a meal that can be cooked there in it’s entirety. Not only does grilling keep mess and stress outside, it invites the men to get involved (at least at my house it does).

Set up a sprinkler or throw a beach ball in the yard for the kids and, bam! You have a great, easy setting to enjoy your company.

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4. Order pizza!

Make it something special –a pizza that you love and genuinely want to share with them. There’s no shame in that. Anyone with little kids knows going out to eat is pretty hard. So go out to eat together at your home!

4. Clean up while they’re there

I am so thankful I finally broke through my reservations about this one. For the longest time I had a mental barrier that prevented me from cleaning up in front of my company. They would offer; I would resist them. I wanted to be 100% focused on them. But when my company left, I was worn out and left with an overwhelming mess. The long term result was distress at the thought of having people over. This was not a worthy trade off.

So I put another system to the test. Now I restore my home totally while my guests and I chat. Many times they help, and overall we have a great time and bond even more over a shared task and “real life” situation than otherwise. When they leave I look at my sparkling kitchen, feel fulfilled and go to bed!

5. Don’t be afraid to go disposable

Seriously. If the point is to love, not impress, you can feel good about leaving the fine china in the hutch and doing what you can handle. There’s no doubt that disposable plates and cutlery save on cleanup. Don’t hesitate to do what works for you!

6. Implement routines so your home “at the ready”

This is one area in which I have grown slowly over time that has really impacted my ability to show simple, low-stress hospitality. Having a home that’s not a constant disaster zone takes daily habits of keeping it “together” little by little. If I have to do monster cleaning before having people over, I’m much less likely to do it. But if my home is passable, come on over!

If you need a push in this department, I highly recommend the Make Over Your Mornings eCourse (read more of my thoughts on that here). It has helped me add some simple yet huge (for me) routines to my evening and morning that have honestly been life-changing.

For more of my thoughts on the topic, check out How I’m Keeping My Home Tidier than Ever, Even When Life Is at It’s Crazies Yet.

And remember, your goal is not to impress. In fact, if you’re worried about impressing others, you may have missed the point.

Biblical hospitality is not meant to be about you. Find freedom in that and invite someone over!

They will be glad you did.

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Free Hospitality Video Series

If you want to dive in and learn even more about hospitality – from the Biblical command to a beginner’s guide to extending hospitality – check out my free video series on hospitalitySign up to get a three part video training so you can discover the joy in practicing Biblical hospitality.

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Let Your Home Breathe this Spring: Small Steps to Simplify Your Living Space

By Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer

Spring is motivating.

The weather is lovely, signs of life are everywhere, and I personally, feel invigorated. It’s truly the perfect time to do some big cleaning and reorganization.

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Last spring I changed my daily reality by simplifying many areas of my home. It was an eye-opening time for me as I realized how much easier and better life could be with less stuff around to get it in my way. Read more about that HERE.

This spring I discovered an amazing resource on what it looks like to simplify an entire home, space by space and step by step:  Your Simple Home Handbook: 30 Projects to Help Your Home Breathe by Elsie Callender. She beautifully put into words everything I had discovered and so much more. As I read her book, I just wanted to say, “YES!”

In it, she offers 10 reasons to get serious about simplifying your living space.

Several of these that made me almost giddy out of total agreement.

My top five favorites are:

  1. Simplifying your stuff is energizing, addictive, and fun—once you start, you’ll want to keep going.
  2. Getting rid of stuff you don’t need or care about will help you have a more beautiful, peaceful home.
  3. With less things clamoring for attention, you enjoy the things you do keep more.
  4. Less clutter means less to clean and organize.
  5. Simplifying your life will help you define your style.

Elsie Callender, Your Simple Home Handbook

So, using her simple, practical steps, I’ve been simplifying my home once again this spring, and it feels wonderful.

Here are a few random projects I have done from her book. In just minutes, I’ve alleviated stress from my home and life and experienced all of the benefits listed above.

Pots and Pans

Your Simple Home Handbook gives several specific recommendations for simplifying the Kitchen cabinets.

For one thing, I’ve decreased the pots and pans stored by my cook-top down to the true necessities. While I still have a few others, I’ve moved the ones I don’t use frequently to another location.

I no longer have to stack pans or rummage around for matching lids. All of my “tools of the trade” are in plain sight and all fit perfectly in the space I have. This has improved my cooking and storage process and allows me to more easily function in my own kitchen. Brilliant. And, as an added benefit, I can’t let dirty dishes pile up, because if I need to use a pot again, I have to wash it then and there.

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“You can get by without those complete cookware sets you see in the department store. If your stove is like most, it only has room for four pots and pans to be in use, anyway. Even though we both enjoy cooking, my husband and I have found that we can get by fine with just two saucepans of different sizes, a soup pot, a wok, and three skillets—cast iron, nonstick, and stainless steel.” Elsie Callender, Your Simple Home Handbook

Accessories

Accessories accumulate easily because they don’t take up much space, sell cheaply at stores and we tell ourselves, “maybe someday we’ll be in the mood to wear it.”

I find I end up with a lots of accessories that I don’t wear for years at a time. That’s a good sign it’s time to move them down the line!

Reading Your Simple Home Handbook motivated me to downsize my earrings once again. This is something I’ve done before, but sometimes it takes multiple me “goes” at it to get to heart of the matter. I don’t wear earrings all the time, and when I do, it’s no doubt going to be one of my favorite, go-to pairs. The rest either don’t match my style or hurt my ears. By eliminating these extras, I can more easily decide what to wear and more readily find them.

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Spring decluttering is so nice! And small tasks feel doable, yet produce marked benefits. Start small, and in no time you’ll have caught the simple-living bug.

I hope you’re now motivated to get at it!

What small thing have you simplified to make a big impact?

If you’re interested in purchasing the Your Simple Home Handbook, you can find it HERE:

Also check out some of my simplification tutorials:

Simplify Your Pantry Baskets

Simplify Your Utensil Drawer

Simplify Your Refrigerator and Freezer

Simplify Your Email Inbox

Simplify Your Medicine Cabinet

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My New (FREE) Hospitality Video Series

I am SO excited that my new video series is finally here and ready! My husband has been working hard behind the scenes to get everything ready for these videos on the technical side. And it’s not been easy…

Hospitality - every believer's command to joyfully serve blog post

Whew – This has been one crazy week! My husband and I left on Thursday for a Christian writing conference while in the middle of wrapping up everything on our new eCourse that launches next week. And at the same time, my site went down for most of yesterday while we were trying to get these finalized. It’s all back up and running now (yay!!) but it’s been tough finding reliable internet up here in the mountains to get everything up and going!

So without further ado, I want to introduce you to my brand new three part video series on hospitality! The first video is up and ready for you to watch now.

Hospitality – Every Believer’s Command to Joyfully Serve

The first video in my series addresses something so important. When I talk about hospitality, I often hear women express that hospitality just isn’t one of their “gifts” – as if it’s only a responsibility for certain members of the Church.

But today,  I want to challenge you to think outside the box when it comes to hospitality. In this first video, I dive into Scripture, starting in the Old Testament and working our way to the New Testament to discover what the Bible has to say on the subject.

Screenshot of hospitality video one

Then, throughout the next two videos, we will cover what hospitality looks like in the life of the modern believer and a practical beginner’s guide to extending hospitality so you can start TODAY!

To get the free video series, all you have to do is head over here, and you can begin watching video #1 right now!

All new hospitality Video series

How to Create a Welcoming Entryway

By Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer

An entryway is the first thing most people will see when they come into our home. It’s our first opportunity to set the scene for the rest of their time with us. It’s our first opportunity to make them feel at ease, welcomed and comfortable. It’s our first opportunity to set a pleasant tone for our home and time together.

An entryway is the first thing most people will see when they come into our home. It’s our first opportunity to set a pleasant tone for our home and time together.

I believe it’s a space that’s worth considering. Creating an inviting entryway is one way to proactively invest in a hospitable home.

Of course, the home itself is not the answer to true, godly hospitality. That comes from the hearts of those dwelling therein.

However, for me, putting thought into my entryway has been a fun way to express my heart for welcoming others.

So, let’s consider it for a moment.

How to Create a Welcoming Entryway

When guests come through our front doors, are they greeted by chaos or beauty? Are they greeted by a jumble of backpacks and dirty socks or by cozy and welcoming decor?

If your answers were the former, here are some suggestions for changing the tone.

Outside

Grow flowers.

Nothing adds life quite like life itself. This year for the first time I created plants outside my door, and the effect is delightful.

I’m sure many of you have green thumbs, but I certainly don’t. My planters look amazing anyway! Great soil and regular watering make this nearly fool-proof.

Place a wreath on the door.

It’s beautiful and welcoming. A wreath on the door is an easy and effective way to add a touch a care. You can find one for every season.

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Invest in a cheery door mat.

Give those entering a place to wipe their feet while greeting and welcoming them with a fun message or print. Sometimes it’s the little things that set the tone.

Inside

Keep it clutter-free.

It’s practical to store certain things near the front door. However, no matter your particular set-up, a little de-cluttering can go a long way in beautifying this area.

  • Reevaluate the items you’re storing in your entryway. If they’re not used frequently, they probably shouldn’t be there. This is a key traffic-way in most homes, so de-cluttering it will promote good flow.
  • If you have an entryway closet, organize it. Remove items that take up space but don’t deserve this prime location. Include only items that are accessed regularly. If necessary, invest in organizers to keep it in shape. An organized closet will be used more frequently, meaning fewer shoes strewn about the floor.
  • If you con’t have a closet, consider investing in a chest, coat hanger or bins. Find some way to hide and organize unsightly items.

For more motivation from Katie to de-clutter your home, click HERE.

Add fun decor.

If you want to take things a step further, decorate! Don’t overlook this space just because you don’t tarry here. You will be surprised how much you and others will enjoy the attention you place to creating a visually appealing entryway.

  • Consider a fun piece of furniture if you have the space. I recently bought this fun console table in aqua for my entryway, and I’m super happy with it!
  • Add a pretty mirror. This is functional (you can check your hair before you leave the house), and it creates an illusion of space light to a likely small area. I love this one from Target for example.
  • Use other decorations at a minimum. Remember the “uncluttered” thing? A fun tray can be a nice touch. This entryway by Better Homes and Gardens is one of my favorites. In fact, seeing this very photo is what first motivated me to redecorate my own entryway.
Place an accent lamp to your entryway table.

Family members and guests arriving after dark will appreciate this added touch. Cozy light is always welcoming and allows those coming through your doors to see their way.

  • Accent lamps can be placed on a timer such as this, which will allow you to set it and forget it. Then, every evening your lamp will come on automatically as evening nears and shut off at the time you’ve pre-selected.
Create a perch

If people will be putting on and removing shoes, this is an especially good idea. Seating also creates a homey, comfortable feeling.  Consider tucking a stool under your console table or setting one in a corner.

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Be ready with a warm greeting.

As mentioned above, while entryway décor can set a fun and welcoming tone, it’s nothing compared to a warm greeting and heart of love. So when someone knocks on your door, the most important element of a welcoming entryway is YOU. A smile. A hug. An “I’m glad you’re here” or “Welcome, come right on it” are far more important than any detail.

So go, exercise hospitality this week!

What’s your favorite or most clever entryway design element?

For more from me, check out and LIKE my Facebook page!

Preparing your home {and your heart} for Hospitality

This post is part of my series on The Joy of Hospitality: Practicing the Biblical art of serving others! You can follow along and read all posts in the series HERE.

I have a passion for hospitality and have grown to love it. But that doesn’t mean hospitality is always easy for me. In fact, when we practice hospitality monthly and even weekly, it takes a lot of preparation and planning for it to all run smoothly.

But with a little preparing, of both your heart and your home, hospitality can run a lot smoother and more efficiently. This will leave you more time to focus on the guests in your home and to be good witnesses of Christ!

Preparing your heart and home for hospitality

“Management skills are important for Christian women primarily because such skills are the key to extending hospitality with ease, enjoyment, and resourcefulness…Management helps us maximize our time, energy, and resources. Simply put, management allows us to plan and organize events so we are free to focus on our real priority – people!” Practicing Hospitality, pg 102-103, emphasis mine.

Preparing Your Heart for Hospitality

Put on Humility

Practicing hospitality takes humility. It’s so easy to fall into the sin of pride when inviting others into your home or bringing them a meal. It’s easy to make hospitality about your home or your cooking {this is what gets me}.

But at the end of the day it isn’t about either. It’s about Christ and our service to His Kingdom. We practice hospitality because we want to reach people with God’s Word and encourage them in their walk. Hospitality is a Biblical command.

Come up with a list of questions

Because hospitality is about so much more than food and center pieces, we must be intentional about keeping a Christ centered focus when practicing hospitality. It can be so easy to fall into easy chitchat about the weather, what’s happening at church, or your kid’s latest funny thing.

But to really come together for fellowship or evangelism, we must get to heart issues and really learn who our guests are. A great way to do this is to come up with a list of questions that you know you can always pull out to get conversation started.

Easy ones to get conversation started is so ask if they have lived in your town their whole life. This can lead to questions of when they became Christians. You can ask how the couple met and got married and then dig deeper into knowing them and hearing their story.

Develop your schedule for the night intentionally

Make sure you are the one leading where the night goes. Come up with a game plan before your guests arrive. If things go a bit off schedule that’s okay – but at least be prepared for a plan so your guests know an appropriate time to leave.

After dinner you can invite the family to all play a board game together. Or show the kids to the play room and offer the adults coffee and dessert so you can talk more.

Study what Biblical Hospitality Means

An important part of hospitality is the Biblical meaning. Without God’s Word guiding us, hospitality is nothing more than empty entertaining.

Study God’s Word as well as Christian books on hospitality to help give you encouragement and ideas! Here are some great resources to help get you started and a few great books I recommend are:

My favorite hospitality books

Preparing Your Home for Hospitality

Plan Ahead

I know the first few times we extended hospitality to people we didn’t know very well, it felt like it took a week to get ready. Things I don’t normally notice {such as cobwebs and dirty mirrors} were suddenly obvious to me!

I felt overwhelmed and I was exhausted after the first few people came over. But as time went on, I became more comfortable with the routine. We started practicing hospitality so often that I was always planning ahead to the next get together.

This way the house never got too out of hand. After one night of hospitality I knew I better stay on top of the house and cleaning because a new family would be in our dining room the following week!

“Planning is an important part of hospitality. Without planning you will not be prepared to meet the needs of guests, and you might miss opportunities to extend hospitality. Planning suggests you are anticipating opportunities to prepare a meal, invite a guest to stay the night, or open your home to others in some way…Any time you extend hospitality, planning is required. Unfortunately, we are often unprepared because we have not anticipated opportunities.”  Practicing Hospitality, pg 103

Stock the Pantry

Normally when we have guests into our home we make one of our family’s favorite recipes. These recipes are tried and true and I’m comfortable whipping them up while I am juggling other things {like making dessert and watching my babes}.

Plus I usually always have these ingredients in my pantry. There are many meals that I keep the staples of in the freezer and pantry so with last minute guests that day, I can still make a delicious and healthy home cooked meal!

Freezer Cooking

Freezer cooking has revolutionized the way I do cooking. Not only do I freezer entire meals, I have also become very comfortable with freezing all kinds of other things {bread, pizza dough, cooked beans, ect}.

I love having entire meals ready in your freezer to put in the oven or on the stove. This is great for last minute guests because all the cooking {and clean up} has already been done and you have all the ingredients you need!

 Practicing hospitality may seem overwhelming at first! But I promise, with a little preparation and doing it a couple of times, you will become a pro in no time!

Just remember, hospitality is far more about your heart than it is about your home! Spend time in God’s Word and ask Him to help you let go of you fears and your insecurities {i.e. PRIDE}!

Read more in this series:

Come with me on a journey to discover the Biblical art of serving others in The Joy of Hospitality Series!

Do you want to learn more about hospitality?

You can sign up for my FREE 3-part video series on hospitality. We begin by first starting where any Gospel-Centered discussion should start: with the Bible! We then take that Biblical definition of hospitality and practically apply it with a beginner’s guide to hospitality – everything you need to know to have the confidence to start extending hospitality – today! Sign up HERE for free!

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