Written by Stephanie Graham
It takes courage to open your home to others, especially if you are not a social person. Our home is our sanctuary and many people keep that space all to themselves. But what if God entrusts our homes to us so that we can serve as a hospital for the hurting, the lonely or the new kid in town? What if our home isn’t only meant for us?
Maybe you have decided you want to be more hospitable but don’t know where or how to start. Here are a few steps to get you started:
Get out your calendar
Sit down and look at your calendar. Pick a date that will work for your family. Everyone is busy. There’s always a reason not to invite someone over. The semester is busy, the baby is fussy (my reason!), work is stressful, it’s a busy season. But really, is there ever a perfect time to have company? NO! Do it anyway. Once you have the date picked out, call or send a message to your potential guests and invite them! If they say no, pick someone else. You’re not off the hook because that date is now blocked off for hospitality! Begin with a goal of having someone over once a month. Then as you become more comfortable and find what works best, it will become part of your rhythm of life. Don’t get discouraged if your first encounter is not a home run. Sometimes it takes a few meals together to get past the awkward stage of a friendship. It’s worth the effort.
Keep it simple (or don’t!)
Not a chef? No problem. There are plenty of options out there. Make a Pinterest board of easy, go-to recipes for when you have company. One main dish and two sides will do the trick. If you are a great cook, go all out and make your guests feel extra special by serving an over the top meal. But don’t stress if that is not you (it’s not me). If you have been to our home for dinner you have probably had stuffed peppers, tacos or something from the grill. (Chad is the chef at our home). Have some go-to that takes the stress out of some of the planning. Ask your guests to bring a dessert if they offer to bring something.
Set the environment
Take the edge off of the awkward silence and have some music playing as they arrive. You can create a Pandora station to play when you have guests. We like instrumental or classical music. Or if you have a favorite artist, play that. This is a great start to conversation if they comment on the music choice. Make sure the volume is set at a level conducive for conversation. Next, have a plan for their arrival. Will they take off their shoes? Where will they put their coat? Will they come straight to the table? Or sit in the living room? It doesn’t matter the answer, but direct your guests as they enter. Light a candle and set your table. Have fresh flowers on the table and let your guest take them as a gift. You can get beautiful flowers at Trader Joe’s for under $5. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but you can create a beautiful environment with a little planning and thought.
As you open your home, pray that God would use you and your table as an instrument of His grace extended to others. Not every meal will be perfect, not every guest will become your closest friend, but people are looking for a place to belong. Maybe they will find it at your table. Who do you plan to invite this month?