Hospitality should be a very important part of our lives. For some people it is their gift; it comes naturally. For others it is overwhelming.
If you are not used to having guests over, start small. Maybe ask one family, or even one couple. Keep the food simple, or even order pizza. Sometimes it is easier to have two families over to help keep conversation going.
Don’t work yourself so hard that you are too tired to enjoy your guests!
When you do have more than just a few people over there are some things you can do to make it easier on yourself and your guests.
- Your house should be clean, but don’t go crazy making it spotless!
- Clean up the clutter, dust, vacuum and mop and be sure the bathrooms are clean. Most if this can be done a couple days before, and give the bathroom a ‘quick wipe’ before the guests come.
- Be sure your front door way is cleaned up/swept, you want a good first impression!
What to Make
The key is to make as much of the food before hand as possible, even the day before .
A few suggestions are:
- A baked pasta dish/salad/bread (baked ziti is less expensive than lasagna); easy to serve and easier to eat than spaghetti.
- BBQ/baked beans/slaw/potato salad
- Chili/cornbread/crackers w/cheese and sour cream
- Taco Salad
- A couple of roasts with veggies cooked in a big roaster
- Bunt Cake – can be made a couple days ahead
- Brownies – can be made the day before
- Ice Cream – buy cones or toppings
Keep it simple!
People remember the conversation and love more than the food.
The important thing is to make them feel welcome.
Serving the Food
- Use a permanent marker to write the guests’ names on the cups before they get there, if you are using disposables.
- If this is a sit down meal make place cards; it helps with seating confusion.
- Be sure to have enough seating for all your guest. Use coffee tables, piano benches, a quilt on the floor picnic style for the children….be creative!
- Buffet is usually easiest with a bigger crowd, unless you have a couple teen girls to make up and serve plates for everyone, this really depends on the number of guest you have.
- Passing food around the table is hard especially for families with several little ones.
- Be prepared for messes. Make sure you have a couple of dish towels and/or paper towels ready for spills, they will happen! Go the extra mile to make sure the ‘spiller’ is not embarrassed. Down play the episode.
- We always wait to do kitchen clean up until the next morning. Do not ‘expect’ your guests to help clean up, and if they offer to do so, encourage them to sit and relax. When people come to my home I want them to truly feel like guests! Often the teen aged girls will clean up and we are sure to thank them!
- Eating outside often helps take the stress off from a sit down meal in the house.
Keeping the Kids Happy
The biggest issue is usually keeping children happy. I think this is even more important than the food served. Hopefully the parents that are invited will respect you enough to watch after their kiddos, but that is hard when there is good adult conversation going on. Leaving children to entertain themselves will usually end in strife.
- Offer a special encouragement ($$$, movie rental, etc…) to a couple of the older children to help keep an eye on the younger ones; agree to this before the dinner party.
- Closing off or locking bedrooms and limiting toys to be played with helps with clean-up after guests leave.
- Bubbles, ice pops, sidewalk chalk, coloring books, go a long way.
- If you choose to put a children’s movie on be sure to approve it with the parents first.
There is a big difference between entertaining and practicing hospitality. Entertaining has a motive of impressing someone with your abilities and possessions. Hospitality is opening your home, and yourself to make someone else feel loved.
- Your duty as host/hostess is to make sure all of your guests feel welcome.
- Be mindful that everyone is drawn in on conversation. If you feel that the topic is becoming heated or that feelings might get hurt, you need to change the course of conversation.
- Remember, hospitality is all about creating a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere for your guest that will foster sweet relationships.
- Let them leave wanting more!