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!
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.
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!
5. 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!
6. 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!
7. Implement routines so your home is “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.
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 hospitality! Sign up to get a three part video training so you can discover the joy in practicing Biblical hospitality.