The other day I went over to a friend’s house for impromptu girlfriend time. I was feeling a bit underwhelmed and needed to step away from my reality and get refocused. So I called my dear friend, and when she heard my weary voice she invited me over.
When I arrived I immediately felt the embrace of her home. I stretched out on the couch and nibbled on a cookie (or three). She sat with me for about 90 unexpected minutes listening, sharing and praying with me.
Whenever I leave her home I always feel encouraged and well-cared for. She embodies the gift of hospitality. It doesn’t matter the time of day, the number of children about, or even her mood, she always seems prepared to welcome and nurture.
For years I have simply attributed her ways as magical. Hospitality is your superhero talent, I often joke with her. I was happy to receive but accepted it wasn’t my gifting.
After listening to a sermon that focused on hospitality I became encouraged to put more effort in this area of our life because simply put, when we open our hearts and homes we are showing in a real tangible way the love of Christ. We are all called to do this.
So before I left her house the other day asked her to share her hospitality tips with me. How do you make the magic happen, I asked. Her tips are so simple and doable that I thought I would share it with you all. Guess what, no magic just a little planning.
Have a Space That is Sacred: As a home schooling mom of six she has a busy home that is well lived in. I bet we can all relate to that. She found it helpful to have certain areas of her house that are ‘sacred’. When I asked her what she meant by that she stated, “Sacred means it needs to stay tidy. If something is used or played with in the sacred space it must be cleaned up immediately.” Sacred spaces allow you to welcome people in your home without having to worry about how it looks. She is a lot more relaxed in other areas of her house (the downstairs family room, kid’s bedrooms, etc.). She also let me know that it is perfectly fine to have rules with different areas of your house. For our home our sacred spaces will include our entry-way, living room and dining room (which is kind of one connected space) and guest bathroom. These are the spaces that we will tidy as we go.
Keep Goodies On Hand: The other day when I was visiting she had a beautiful tray complete with fancy tea cups, a platter of tea cookies, candle and my pick of coffee or tea with sugar and cream. “Sweets help a multitude of things!” she laughed. She always dreamed about having the time to tie on an apron and bake loaves of pound cake and cookies, but that isn’t her reality…yet. So instead she relies on the store to help her out. She stocks up on tea cookies and tea from Trader Joes because they have a variety of goodies (including vegan and gluten free treats) for very good prices. She also gets goodies for little ones as well so she has something fun to offer children if they are over – applesauce cups, mini brownie bites, and small bags of popcorn are hits. She has a special place where she keeps goodies for when visitors come so they don’t eat it all up. She also told me to check out Home Goods Store for things like candles, tea pots and cups, and cute trays.
Enlist the Kids: She strongly encouraged having kids help out–not just with the cleaning but also with other things. Her kids have specific jobs, for example one hangs up coats and puts up umbrellas, while another serves beverages. The older children know to help keep watch over the little ones and help out cooking lunch or dinner. “Speak to your children about what you are doing. Let them understand the importance of making space in your life to welcome the visitor that is unexpected. Hospitality is a ministry and it is a wonderful ministry the entire family can and should participate it. So let them help out.”
Keep the Little Ones Entertained: This tip I thought was brilliant. “Life happens,” she explained motioning me to follow her down the steps with her right hand while holding her youngest bundle of joy in her left. “When it does, you need to be able to respond.” When we went downstairs I noticed that it was different than upstairs, “This is the non-sacred space of the house.” We headed to her laundry room and she passed me the baby. Then she got down a plastic bin and opened it. “I keep a fun box that has toys the kids don’t play with every day. I will pull this out when I need it and it helps keep them happy. Most of the toys in here come from Christmas and birthdays. I select a few and put them up for days when life happens. Most of my friends have children around the same age as my kids, so this helps the children feel welcomed as well.” I LOVED this idea and immediately implemented it. She also said she has some pre-approved movies and tv shows they are allowed to watch on days like this as well. Another brilliant idea.
Be Yourself & Keep It Simple: The last piece of advice was I think the most important. “The biggest mistake people make is trying to roll out hospitality like someone else. ” She warned me not to try to do it like she does. You can be inspired by someone else’s home and ways but you must be you. Your friends are coming to spend time with you, so be sure to give them you–as you are, right now in the season you are in.
If you are like me and hoping to press into hospitality more, join me in trying out these tips. Let me know how it works for you if you do. Also, if you have certain practices that make opening your home to others easier, please share them with us in the comment section below!
Stay encouraged & be blessed!