Part I of this series explored the heart and purpose of hospitality. This month we will break down four practical things to consider if you desire to cultivate hospitality in your life, no matter where you live. Yes, you too can be the hostess who is able to sit back and enjoy her company, no matter what else is going wrong!
Is that Your Tummy Growling?
A big part of having people over is food. As a result, it’s wise to be familiar with several recipes that you can make for 12 or more people. To make meal sharing easier, people in a Bible study or small group can always rotate the load of preparing meals, and it does not have to be an extravagant affair. For warmer months, it’s nice to grill meat or just serve cold cuts (ham, turkey, or roast beef) with a loaf of sliced bread and have people make their own hearty sandwiches with a side of potato salad. Patti Pray, who has years of superb experience in practicing hospitality, generously shared with me some of her crockpot recipes for large groups. She regularly serves in our church’s college ministry, while making mega meals for hungry young folk on a weekly basis. You can download her three most popular crockpot recipes here: Taco Soup, Shredded Beef, and Lasagna.
You Gotta Talk Now
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve realized in the middle of a conversation that I’m not asking good, open-ended questions of a quieter person, or my mind is on ‘X’ while the person right in front of me is talking about ‘Y’. Even my eyes tend to get distracted and wander all over instead of focusing on the person I’m conversing with. We all have our little, individual quirks we have to be aware of when interacting with others; in the end, the thing to remember is to see the other person as more important than yourself (Phil. 2:3-4). Simply practicing that one principle in social settings will do wonders!
When we are interacting with people, we can put them at ease, and let them know they are valued in the intimacy of our homes, or anywhere else. The ability to do this connects to etiquette, but the game changes once you become closer to people. In closer relationships, you can be more direct and open, even to the point of gentle correction.
Budgeting for Meals
If you are a single person who wants to have people over more often, you may need to set aside some money each month for food shopping. You can even go in together with a roommate to split the costs. If you are married, you and your spouse can decide on a set amount to reserve for grocery shopping beyond your own meals. Practically speaking, preparing larger meals costs money, but if you know this is something God wants you to do, then it is sorta like setting aside an amount to give back to the community around you – not an obligation. Above all else, remember that the quality of the experience is not dependent on how much money you spend.
How to Host Children in your Home
When you are hosting, it is good to be aware of the needs of those who have kiddos. If you are single, it can be easy to forget that parents have special considerations they have to be mindful of when carting their kids around. Here are some quick ideas that will help parents and children feel comfortable in your home.
Have a stool in the guest bathroom. It’s very difficult for kids to use the facilities if they cannot even reach the faucet to wash their hands. It will make things easier for both mom/dad and little Joe.
Put away things that are very valuable or easily broken. The last thing you want is precious great Aunt Gertrude’s ashes to be spilled all over the living room floor because little Joe accidentally knocked her ceramic urn off the coffee table and spilled her remains all over the carpet. Oi-vé!! (Aunt Gertrude always liked to cause a ruckus anyway….)
If you are serving snacks or food for the kids, make sure you are not serving anything that will give little Joe a sudden attack of the hives because he is allergic to nuts, dairy, etc. A lot of kids have allergies these days, so it’s good to have snacks on hand that everyone can enjoy without worrying about making a rush to the emergency room.
If you can, have a “kid friendly” area with coloring books, toys, and other simple games for kids to entertain themselves in. A play area in the backyard is also nice for this if the weather is good, as long as there is no pool that is unfenced.
The Main Point: Hospitality is ultimately an attitude of the heart, and is especially powerful in sharing the Gospel, both to Christians and non-Christians.
Please Share: What are some practical tips that you have used in practicing hospitality?