Practical Tips for Hospitality
I know practicing hospitality can be daunting - where do I begin? What do I cook? What do I do if I don't even have a kitchen table? I wanted to share my tips for some of the questions I get the most in this area.
1. What are some go-to meals for hospitality?
When I'm making a meal for people, the recipe has to meet these guidelines: simple to make, tried and true (I know it'll be a crowd pleaser), and I've made it before. I don't like trying new recipes for company because it stresses me out and takes the focus in my heart away from the people joining us for a meal, and puts it more on my preparations.
I also like to make one big meal rather than a bunch of smaller things. There's obviously no right or wrong way to do this, and in past seasons of my life there were times I would make a salad, side, main, and dessert. But with two small children, that's just not realistic for me without causing a lot of stress. Again, taking the focus off the people and putting it back on my preparations, which I don't want. Here are some great examples of hospitality meals:
- homemade pizza (any toppings and you could easily make two for a bigger group) + big salad
- Whole30 Skillet Chicken Picatta
- Thai Peanut Chicken Noodles
- Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil
- Chili and cornbread (both paleo)
- Cheesy Kale and Bacon Pork Loin with Mashed Potatoes
2. Do you let people who you invite over for a meal contribute to that meal?
Unless the people coming over are really close friends, I don't ask for them to bring anything. I want to be mindful that a meal at our home might lift a financial burden for them, they may be coming to our house straight from work and not have time to prepare anything, or they just wouldn't be blessed by that ;) However, if someone asks if they can bring something I always say yes. I love when this happens because it does two things: 1) takes a bit of pressure off of you as the host and 2) it puts everyone on the same level. Obviously we already are on the same level, but sometimes we just need to remove cultural barriers and I think this accomplishes that to a degree by having everyone contribute to the meal. When we all contribute, we all take ownership, so it doesn't feel like one person is over the other in anyway.
3. What do I do if my home is too small?
Some practical ideas would be to buy a nice large blanket from a thrift store - anything that makes your living area feel lovely and bit more special. Lay out some trays for setting drinks on and (if you are kid-free) some candles to set an intimate tone. I've also seen a friend on instagram lay wooden palettes out in the yard as a table and had everyone sit on the ground! It was sooo cute and you can find palettes a lot of places for free.
The other thing to say here is that if you embrace it, your guests will too. Sometimes I think that the whole song and dance can be a hindrance to community and truly welcoming the stranger. Jesus said blessed are the poor and humble...and so we should praise God and feel blessed that even without a kitchen table, lots of chairs, comfortable seating in the living room or small quarters, that we CAN still provide a welcomed and warm place of belonging for others. These more intimate settings can sometimes be the biggest blessing.
4. I know as a Christian I should practice hospitality, but...
- what does that practically look like?...
- without an intentional plan I just forget...
- it seems scary or overwhelming...
At the beginning of every month write down a short list of people (I usually have about 4 or 5) who you would like to extend hospitality to. I make two lists - one of people I want to serve (going OUTWARD with hospitality, ie: bring a meal, a gift card during a long week, wash their car for them, babysit for them, etc.) and those I want to invite INWARD into our home for a meal. There is a space in the new Seasonal Meal Planners for you to do this (they launch in the shop October 18th!) but you could just do this in your calendar if you don't have one!
If we don't prioritize people in this way, then hospitality gets lost in the everyday shuffle of life. Make a small goal like having two people over during the month, and go from there! You will be so blessed!