I think we can all agree that the Bible speaks a generous amount about Christian Hospitality. Check out this blog post if you want to know more behind the Biblical reason it is important to open your home, share a meal, and engage in community with others. Door’s Open Come on In
If you are one of those people who lament, ” I want to be hospitable but I just do not know where to start.” Well, this post is for you!
Let me first share, I was very fortunate to have a role model of a mother ( and father) who always opened our home, made delicious home cooked meals, and were very generous with both their time and money to making people feel welcomed. Lesson here: ONE OF THE GREATEST GIFTS TO GIVE YOUR CHILDREN: Teach them HOSPITALITY!
But, I totally get it, not everyone feels this way. In fact some people cringe at the thought of having people over for dinner, and are much happier alone on their couch with takeout and Netflix.
HERE IS THE TRUTH: Hospitality is NOT about what you serve, it is not about the size of your home, and it is not about you. Hospitality IS about, having a servant’s heart, the willingness to invite people into your personal space, and showing the love of God.
Now, that being said, for those of you need a few tips to get you started keep reading! These are simply suggestions, and things I have found helpful along the way! I would love to hear what special touches you bring to the table… hehe get it? Seriously, YOU are what make the experience unforgettable.
- FINGER FOODS ARE YOUR FRIEND. No one wants to admit this, but most people would gladly make a meal out of pick ups. Check out this board for some tried and true recipes Easy Dips and Small Bites
- KEEP IT SIMPLE, you do not want to be slaving over a stove, or leaving the conversation to finish dessert. Crowd Pleasers: Burgers, Spaghettis, Casseroles, Pizza ( especially with Kids, Anything in a Crock Pot, Soup for Colder weather
- ASK FOR HELP, enlist friends to all bring their favorite dish or appetizer. That way they feel included, I mean it’s the South, we can’t come empty handed. This also does not put all the financial pressure and time constraints on you.
- DESSERTS ARE OVERRATED. Nothing is prettier to me than walking into a home with a 10 layer cake in the middle of the table. But, how often does that cake get eaten? Think lots of little desserts, and again, stuff you know people like. Chocolate Chip Cooks, Brownies, Krispy Kreme donuts are always a hit, mini cupcakes. Think: small, easy to carry, not messy
- NOTHING WRONG WITH TEA AND LEMONADE oh and h20 too! You do not need a ton of drink choices, stay with these three, or even Tea and Water ( depending on where you live) and you will be set. Having people over before noon? COFFEE IS A MUST!
- LIDL AND ALDI ARE YOUR FRIEND. What did I do before these places? You can make a charcuterie plate for 20 people under $10! They have great prices on cheese, meat, fruit, vegies- seriously best place to buy your food, especially for a party!
2. THE SETTING
- USE WHAT’s IN YOUR YARD I love flowers, so I use a lot of what we already have growing to fill mason jars, or even just regular old drinking glasses. If you do not have flowers, or they are not in season, still use what you have. Bring outside in, spray paint pine cones, left over Christmas tree clippings, I have been known to slap gold pain on twigs and make an arrangement. If you are really in a bind, again LIDL AND ALDI best friends. ( oh and Dollar Tree has $1.00 Vases) Simple Leaves and Twine
- PAPER OR CHINA, DON’T OVERTHINK IT I personally like a good theme so typically I will grab paper plates, and napkins to match— DOLLAR TREE! However, I have started a collection of random plates that I found at antique stores for a $1, and use those as well. Think about the group, the type of food, and how much you are willing to clean up.
- WANT TO GO THE EXTRA MILE? I write on tiles ( you can buy corner tiles at Lowes, in white) with a dry erase marker what the food is and if there is anything some one might be allergic too ( ex, nuts, HOT!) If planning a sit down meal, I make place cards out of cardstock, often having my girls decorate them, they love to feel apart. I also have two chalkboards that I use religiously in hosting, to welcome guests, or write a cute message. Hobby Lobby and their 40% coupons are your best bet here.
- STOCK UP ON BASICS At the end of the season buy for next year, you can get plates, napkins, cups for as little as 25 cents some times. Same goes for serving dishes- I HIGHLY recommend having a wooden cutting board, a white large serving dish, drink pitchers, I like this one and a cake stand of some form for desserts
3. THE ART OF ENTERTAINING
- PARTY GAMES I really like having people over during the summer as there are a lot of choices of things to do outside ( especially if you are having families over) Corn hole, Ladder Golf, Horseshoes, ANYTHING INVOLVING WATER for kids! Again, think about the crowd. We have a handful of board games, but have really enjoyed games that get people talking and more fun, LAUGHING! Fun Ideas for All Ages
- KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING If it is not natural for you to strike up a conversation, before people come over put together a few topics you know you can discuss with your guest. Make a note to personally talk to each person ( if a large group) . In a more intimate setting keep the conversation flowing, making sure not one person dominates. ( guilty!)
- DOOR PRIZES I keep a drawer of notepads, cards, dish towels, soaps, etc that I get on ridiculous sales. ( oops secret’s out) Not every time, but if it is a special event, I will do a drawing for a few items, everyone loves a cerci.
- TECHNOLOGY FREE ZONE Keep the TV off, and phones tucked away. Use this time to really talk and engage with your company. There are times, the big game, movie night, etc where the focus will be around the tube. The goal here is to not spend your time looking at screen instead of the others around you.
- DON’T STRESS ABOUT THE DUST BUNNIES! Yes, it would be good to do a sweep in the kitchen, vacuum the carpets, and get the month old toilet a scrub. BUT, do not stress yourself out about every corner, I promise people will not notice! And, if you are not able to get to that final toy pick up, no worries, they are there for the kids to play with when they walk in!
Remember, these are just tips if you want to really do something special. The hardest part is being vulnerable to open your heart and home. I have had many a great night, pee my pants from laughing, made a new friend, or bonded over past pains, all while eating frozen pizza on the floor.