Friday, July 1, 2011

Hospitality ~ Just DO IT!

About a month ago, I asked my Facebook friends' these questions regarding hospitality: 

"I enjoy hosting hospitality's, but, it's something that I really have to try at. I have two specific questions: How do you become more hospitable when you weren't raised "that way" AND hosting people when your house is small and parking is limited."

Seems I'm not alone!  Their answers were eye opening and encouraging.  Here's what they had to say:

Crystal:  I've heard that the book The Reluctant Entertainer is great by Sandy Coughlin. And Open Heart, Open Home by Karen Mains. I've got the same issues.

Heather:  IDK, I love to entertain and will do so even when my home is not very clean. Usually those times are reserved for my GURLZ who do not care, but if it's 2 hours till time, every room gets a 5 Minute Room Rescue and that's that.

As far as having a small home & limited parking, I really don't have a lot of experience with that. Do you have a yard or are you in an apartment complex? If I were faced with that I would simply include a note on the invitation asking folks to carpool. Especially if you're using an internet-based e-vite type service. Usually, when you're inviting people over, several know each other. I would feel completely comfortable asking whomever I knew closest - personally, in a phone call because verbal is better than electronic for this kind of thing because it's more personal - to let me know if they know who's close to whom, who would they be willing to bring, etc. As a direct sales consultant, I encourage my hostesses to ask their guests to carpool. It's more fun because the party starts sooner and lasts longer for those folks, plus it's a boost for attendance.

Don't feel shy about having any of your younger guests sit on the floor. Buy some good throw pillows for just such occasions and buy space bags to store them.

Dawn:  We have a VERY small house (like 800 sq ft)...but a large yard. We try to have folks over when we can eat outside. We have also become very creative on how we entertain inside the house. We eat in the living room as it is the biggest room of the house. Then after we eat, we move the tables and sit around in a circle. Some on the couch, some on chairs from eating. I can *TOTALLY RELATE* to the "not raised that way" part! I do not entertain like Martha Stewart would but everyone seems to enjoy it!

Lori:  I was not raised that way either. Several things I have worked on. I try hard to remember to greet people warmly at the door and make them feel welcome, whether they were invited guests or my children's friends stopping by. I work at trying... to keep extra food and drinks on hand. I keep frozen lemonade stocked in the freezer and have worked hard on putting together a quick meal at the spur of the moment with whatever I have on hand. Also, have learned to add to a ready to serve meal when suddenly someone drops by. Open up a jar of applesauce. Grab another loaf of bread or pkg of rolls from the freezer, etc. to stretch the meal. Bonfires are a great way to have a bunch of people over even if your house can't fit them all.

Dawnmarie:  We entertain a lot. A few small pieces of advise that I could give would be this.

1. Friends will go to visit you, not to critique your home, so try not to stress in that area.

2. Encourage people to carpool or find a nearby place where people can park and have a DD give rides to your home.

3. The more that you entertain, the easier that it can be. Being hospitable, like many things, is something that you can train yourself to be.

4. For meals, if there is not enough sit-down space for everyone, finger foods are fantastic for people to munch while standing around.

5. Relax. Do not be so busy trying to entertain that you spend the whole time being harried and do not enjoy the occasion yourself.

6. When people offer to help clean afterward...let them! It will make things easier for you later.

7. Remember that the time if for fun and fellowship, so relax and let it be just that. 8^)

Sheri:  I used to struggle at that too - now I always offer to host events, parties, and groups. Several things I learned - don't expect your house to be perfect, no one else expects that, either. Simplify your menus and do as much as you can ahead... of time to lessen the stress. Potlucks are easier so you don't have to buy everything. Use paper and plastic plates and utensils, and buy them in bulk so you'll always have them on hand. Be sure to have plenty of food - we learned the hard way that running out of food is very, very bad. I always way over-plan, and have lots of extras in my freezer that can be quickly heated up and served.

Oh, and one reason I love FlyLady - my house is never perfect, but it is usually only about 15 minutes away from being clean enough for company. My kids all know the drill as well and always pitch in to get things company ready.

Samantha:  I would gladly accept just a class of ice water offered in love.

And a wonderful note from Jan:

One Key to Unlock the Door of Hospitality
My house is too small.  They won't have a place to park.  The carpets are always dirty.  Sit on the floor?  Are you kidding me?  I can't cook.  What if I run out of things to say......

Why be hospitable?  Do people even need your caring words or actions?
Are people hurting today?  Yes.  Are they thriving or are they in survival mode?  Do they have peace or are they in need of peace?  Can you offer them a glass of water?

I'm not known for my hospitality.  My mother is a gracious person.  I don't have any excuse.....except one.  Perfection.  I want things to be perfect.  And they aren't......ever.  My desire for perfection doesn't even come from wanting to please others as much as it comes from my own pride.  Ugg.  The ugly cards are out on the table now.

Martha, just call me Martha.

But when I consider those I think about hosting I know that they need ME.  They need the love of Christ that I can share that day.  They need a loving touch or a listening ear.  They need to relax and have a moment away from the demands overwhelming their lives.  They need a meal.....any meal.  A friend recently got excited when I invited her to come over "one day soon."  I told her I wasn't sure what I'd cook.  She quickly responded, "Grilled cheese would be fine!  I just want to come visit!"  It really isn't my food she longs for, it's His food she knows she'll get!

Another friend wants to come over.  She has never been here but she likes some of the things that consume my time.  She just wants to sit and be encouraged, she wants to take a deep breath and slow her pace.

As I prepared for our wonderful fellowship yesterday with my Polish friend, Maria, I knew that I wanted the focus to be on her, not the food.  I bought some fruits, cubed some cheese and set out crackers.   We made a delicious punch and had hot coffee and tea available.  The table looked bare so I thought about buying a few pretty flowers but I didn't have a lot of time to run out and get them.  As I walked into my kitchen I saw some (old....I'm being honest now) "silk" flowers in a vase.  (I really feel like I'm using the term "silk" loosely.)  At that moment I felt God say to me, "Jan, this isn't about perfection and you have only Me to please.  Wash the old flowers, put them in a vase and set them on the table.  This day isn't about your idea of beauty.  It is about showing them My Love.  Just love."

The day was full of dark skies, strong winds, hard rain, impressive lightening and powerful thunder.  The phone began ringing as two o'clock approached and I braced myself for regrets.  Instead I had requests for:  driving instructions, permission to bring a friend, and "Is there anything you'd like me to bring?"  Everyone showed up and they were all on time!  They brought smiles, umbrellas, diaper bags, excitement and anticipation.  We all sat in my living room and compared our circle to what the early church must have been like huddled in the catacombs.  What a wonderfully glorious day it was.

They sat on the sofa, dining room table chairs (that don't match the table and were bought from an old army kitchen), the floor....even the inexpensive folding chairs I bought to use outside!  There was laughter, some tears, many hugs and prayers.  We sang aloud a few songs that have guided and strengthened Maria....and we sang them acapella.  Talk about missing perfection.  But I'm certain the angels were singing along too.

My friends (from all walks of life and many not knowing anyone else before coming over), left refreshed.  They looked more filled and complete than when they first walked in the door.  They were built up and ready to "go forth."

The kitchen was not as clean as I would have liked.  A few prep things I had planned to do never got done.  My little projects even sat in their places unashamed, waiting on me.  It was obvious.  She didn't get her whole "look" finished.

But now I know.  We weren't really going for "my look."  We were going for His look.  And since He is Perfection, what was I worried about after all?

IF He is my Boss (and He is!), then I need only concern myself with the assignments He puts before me and they are never too much or too hard.

My friends relax when I relax.  And before I know it the meal is finished and they're drying dishes and putting them in my cupboards.  (Never my intention or desire by the way!)  But they smile and say, "Wow, we're a lot alike.  I'd put my such-and-such here too if I were you."  Then we're laughing and I'm understanding that they just want to be my family for the day.

They got a lot more than nourishment at my table.  They got loved.  They felt cherished and listened to and the ride home is an easier one because they know I care about them and they have another sister looking out for them.  The harsh world is a little less harsh because they felt loved and not with a love that is superficial....but with God's love, the Perfect love.

"But when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears."  1 Corinthians 13:10
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13: 13

Be the balm that is needed, the oasis that is desired, the friend that is loving and available.

I am tossing the pride of my own need for perfection.  My Boss expects obedience, not my simple idea of excellence.

The world is in too much need to wait for us to finally get over ourselves.  Set aside personal agendas and Love One Another!  The time is nigh.

Can I count on you?
Can He count on you?
Jan aka The New Mary

So, after reading all the comments, what's my feeling on hosting people at my home now?  Well.....Just DO IT!!!!


  1. Wow! Just what I needed to "hear." Thank you. I get so tense when people come over too. I really do want everything to be perfect. :/

  2. Lisa, this seems to be much on your heart lately. Personally, I think you are a very gracious person with a house full of young ones. Be gracious towards yourself right now. BUT if you REALLY want to host an event for encouraging others, here's an idea.... I used to have a very small house but a BIG desire to host (I love hosting!) anyway, my neighbor had a larger house but no desire to be "in charge". We joined forces. I planned and preped, she opened the doors to her home. If you want to "join forces" let me know. Mi casa es su casa. :)