I have been told that I have a gift of hospitality. What a wonderful compliment!
hos·pi·tal·i·ty – the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
synonyms: friendliness, hospitableness, warm reception, welcome, helpfulness,neighborliness, warmth, kindness, congeniality, geniality, cordiality,courtesy, amenability, generosity, entertainment, catering, food
“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.” –Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes
When people treat me with warmth and genuine friendship it is then safe to be me. Safe to share life together, to enjoy a meal, to stay a while, and to help in return. Hospitality is important because it is important to Jesus. Jesus has always been on mission to bring the Kingdom of God to this world. He came to serve and not to be served. That is the heart of hospitality: service.
I am by no means the best at this, but it is something I really enjoy. Making sure other people’s needs are met is a burden I gladly bear. I want the people in my life to be served, have joy, and live life abundantly. Whether it’s lighting a scented candle or serving the finest seafood feast, hospitality comes from the heart – not the pocket book. In addition, whether you are single, married, male, female, or a household of 15 – hospitality is important, doable in your own way, and is a good opportunity to bless the people in your life. So here are 15 ways to be hospitable:
- Host people! Whether you have a small one bedroom apartment like us, rent a room, or have a bigger home…open it up! Invite people in to your life. The invite means more than the size or looks of the space. People feel honored by an invite and parties/dinners/get-togethers are a great way to show people you are grateful to have them in your life.
- Give a tour. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel more comfortable in a space and with the person I’m visiting when I get to see their whole home. What’s behind all the doors? Maybe it’s a psychological thing. And, while difficult, I think it’s a good thing to let people see your mess. Life is messy – let’s just be in it together.
- Scented candles. I know this is so simple, but a great smelling home is inviting and restful for people. You could also try the stovetop potpourri method.
- Put glasses out on the counter when guests arrive with a couple of drink options available. It makes the “what would you like to drink” question less awkward for guests to answer. Most importantly – always have ice in the freezer, cold water, and room temperature water. I think if you have water needs under control, then the other drinks are not as important, but are the added bonus. I like having some kind of iced tea and beer available at all times.
- Having cute straws with your guest’s name on it is such a nice touch. Completely unnecessary, but special. I just went to a Southern-themed cooking club and our host did the whole name-tag on your straw thing and everyone loved it. And no one loses their cup or causes you to do more dishes than you need!
- While on the subject of drinks, always have regular and decaf beans at your disposal. Then you can grind them fresh and let people be picky with how they like their coffee. Half & half or whole milk is great to keep on hand as well. And what guests wouldn’t love some homemade creamer!?
- Serve good food…and good food doesn’t have to mean expensive. First thoughts: risotto, pasta with fresh sauce, simple green salad, roasted vegetables, roasted chicken, bread with cheeses, grilled sausage, fresh fruit, corn salad, chips & salsa.
- When people are in your home or at your gathering, dessert is always a must. Go simple or go extravagant, but it must be there. For a simple dessert, try my chocolate chip cookies. You could even put out a plate of Oreos and your guests will love it!
- Have blankets on the couch. People can get cold, but not want to trouble you. Blankets draped over the couch or folded up by your couch pillows is a nice touch.
- Background music. This is such a fun way to show hospitlity. It can set the mood, add energy, and start conversation. We really like playing Ray LaMontagne, Austin Stone Reveille, The Civil Wars, The Lumineers, and Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack.
- Make sure you sit down, too. If you are hosting everything, but never take the time to sit down with everyone, have good conversation, ask intentional questions, and listen to your company, then you are just an entertainer. Entertaining is great, but it’s not necessarily hospitality. And it can be exhausting. Sitting down communicates love and quality time.
- Let people help you. A family works together and people feel like family if they are able to contribute to a common goal. Ask for help with serving the plates, ask for a part of the meal to be contributed, or ask your guests to put their dish in the dishwasher when they are done. I wouldn’t mind being asked these things – it’s all for the goal of being together.
- If your guests decide to stay over, make sure you give them a fresh towel and washcloth, a box of tissues by their sleeping area, and offer a cell phone charger and a good book for them. If you really want to serve your guests, then maybe you could put a small jar by their bed with some special treats: hotel sample toiletries, chocolates, and a sleep mask.
- There are also ways to show hospitality if you are going to someone else’s home. A great idea is to bring a house warming gift. Something you would want as a treat: a bottle of wine, a cinnamon broom in the fall, a baguette, a special soap, a bag of tea or coffee. (pictured above)
- Have fun! Relax. Play a game. Tell embarrassing stories. Let your guard down. Be in the moment as much as you can. Inspire and encourage your guests. Make sure they know there is something different about their time with you and that your hospitality comes from our awesome Maker.
What ways do you show hospitality!? I know this list above is not extensive in the slightest. Fill me in on your secrets!
p.s. FRESH FLOWERS! I love having fresh flowers in the house. I think my guests like it, too. There’s something special about the flowers being from nature and then brought into the home to enjoy. Trader Joe’s always has some inexpensive bundles!