Lately, I have really been feeling the Spirit urging me regarding hospitality. According to the online dictionary, hospitality is “The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” Today hospitality seems so complicated. It feels as though you have to have a big party to be hospitable or be like Martha Stewart. I am no Martha Stewart, folks! I have a very sad confession. We do not know our neighbors. Not one of them and we have been living in this house, in town, for almost two years! I have also found myself turning away company when my home is not as clean as I would prefer it to be, or just feeling like I never have to time to invite people into my home. Having guests means work cleaning, cooking, taking time out of my busy schedule and everything. It just seems like too much of a hassle. I have recently realized that it is important to invite people into our home because home is where some of the best ministry can be done. We are supposed to live out our faith as an example and what better place to do this than at home. I have been thinking about ways to be more ready for unexpected guests and ideas for entertaining those I know are coming.
1. Keep a pitcher of tea or lemonade in the fridge.
This is just a good idea because you should always be ready to offer your guests a glass of something to drink. It is important to offer them a beverage when they come into your home. It makes them feel welcome and like you have time for them.
1 cup sugar
5 cups cold water
1 cup lemon juice
Dissolve sugar in 1 cup cold water and lemon juice. Add remaining cold water. Serve over ice. Makes 6 1/2 cups.
2. Make sure at least the kitchen, living room and bathroom look decent.
These are the rooms your guests will see! Even if they aren’t sparkling they should be mostly decent. If you have some dishes in the sink, so what? Perfection isn’t necessary…there just shouldn’t be filth. Most people do live in their homes. It is unrealistic to think your home will look wonderful all the time. If guests are expected, it should look beautifully clean though.
3. Don’t only welcome friends.
Hebrews 13:2- “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have entertained angels without know it.”
Christ welcomed people from all walks of life to His presence. The story of Zacchaeus comes to mind because everyone was furious with Jesus for dining at His home. Jesus came to save the lost sheep. Welcome all kinds of people into your home and you will be blessed for it.
4. Open your home for things such as Bible study with others or prayer.
One of the most important things we can do as Christians is to fellowship with one another. Matthew 18:20- “For where two or more come together in my name, there I will be also.” The disciples stayed together and prayed together. They broke bread and discussed their faith. Opening your home this way will be a blessing to others and a blessing to your family as well.
5. Have cookies in the cookie jar.
Be able to offer your unexpected guests a bite to eat as it makes them feel welcome.
Here is an excellent cookie recipe (Husband’s favorite)::
1/2 c. softened butter 1 cup sugar 1/4 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 egg 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1 1/2 c. flour 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. gr. cinnamon
In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of sugar, baking soda and the cream of tartar. Beat until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until it is easy to handle. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the 2 Tbsp. sugar and the cinnamon. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-11 minutes or until edges are golden. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. This should make about 36 cookies.
6. When someone leaves your home, they should feel blessed.
“Families shaped by deep Christian faith and strong love for one another can offer an extraordinary gift in welcoming people into their homes. In living their lives in front of their guests, they provide a model of a healthy family, warts and all. They allow people to see what the Christian life looks like in the daily give and take of loving and forgiving. Around a dinner table, family and guests share food and life, and talk of that which gives meaning to their lives.” –Christine D. Pohl
7. Anticipate the needs of your guests.
Pay attention to your guest. Watch their glass and if it needs refilled ask if you can get it for them. Make sure they are comfortable and they will want to come back to your home. They are not there to help themselves. You are the hostess and that is your responsibility.
8. Burn candles.
Burning candles creates a comfortable atmosphere and will make your guest feel relaxed. Candles just make the home homey. Be sure to ask your guest if they have an aversion to certain scents. It wouldn’t do to send them into an asthmatic fit!
9. Set your table.
If you are having a dinner party, set your table before guests arrive. It lets them know you have been anticipating their arrival and they also won’t feel obligated to help. Use your best of everything because your guests are special.
A delicious dessert for a dinner party::
PEACH COBBLER: My grandmother’s recipe (9×9 baking dish)
2 eggs 1 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 c. shortening + a little more almost 3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour 1 1/2 tsp. b. powder Large can of peaches or frozen ones
Cream the shortening and sugar. Add eggs, flour and milk. Put peaches in the bottom of your dish with some tapioca and pour the batter over it. Bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees. If a toothpick comes out of the center dry, it is finished.
10. Have games.
Games are a wonderful way to practice hospitality. Playing cards or a board game with your guests is a great way to have fun together! (Yes, our game basket could be more organized…)
There are so many more ideas on how to practice hospitality that it would take me days to cover them all. I am going to begin applying these thoughts more in my life and start opening my home more to others. Being a blessing to others is what being a Christian is. We should be willing to welcome others into our homes.