I recently posted this quote by Shauna Niequist on my Instagram, and I think it applies so well to this whole post:
“The heart of hospitality is when people leave your home they should feel better about themselves, not better about you.”
Having people in your home shouldn't be about you. It should be about finding ways to make others feel special and loved in your home. It’s about putting others first and creating a safe place for them to be themselves and share their lives with you. It’s about community and gathering and being equal and just being there to encourage and pursue other people.
In a world that is all about making ourselves feel better and doing what “makes you happy,” my goal is to make our house a place where we are focused on others and how we can meet their needs and love on them. The last thing I want is for people to leave our home and think that all we care about is ourselves.
So I have put together a short list of some practical things you can do to love on others. And while these are practical tips, I do think they focus on your heart and allow you to really think about what your heart is behind hosting and hospitality.
1. PUT EFFORT INTO YOUR HOME
This point could seem like it’s to make you look better, but that’s not my heart behind this at all. Putting effort into making your home a clean, welcoming place, means you are putting effort into providing a safe space for your guests. You don’t have to have the fanciest house or the nicest things, but cleaning your home and preparing it for guests is a way to show them that you cared enough about them to provide a nice and comfortable environment for them. A great example of this is my mom. She always has fresh flowers out when we come over and even though it’s such a little thing, it always makes me feel special knowing that she did that just so we could enjoy them.
2. FEED THEM!
If serving your guests dinner totally freaks you out, then don’t serve dinner! Providing a full meal isn’t the only way to feed people (in case you didn’t already know that). While dinner is always awesome, you can do dessert or snacks of whatever you are comfortable with instead. You don't even have to do it all yourself. You can have them help by bringing a side or something else to go with the meal. There is just something so special about sitting down to eat and chat together. Sharing a meal (or dessert) with someone is like inviting them to live life with you in my opinion. You are showing that you value their company enough to sit down and stay for a while. Some of our best conversations have happened around our dinner table over dinner or lunch or dessert with our friends. Those times are times that have bonded us with other couples and neighbors and it’s something I truly cherish.
If you are in need of some recipes, try these crockpot chicken tacos that feed a lot of people or for just one or two people, I love this mediterranean sweet potato bowl. For dessert, this lemon lavender pound cake is a huge hit or for something a little fun, try these churros with espresso dipping sauce.
3. ENGAGE IN INTENTIONAL CONVERSATION
Y’all. Real talk for a sec. I’m not the greatest at this. It’s something I really have to work on and something I want to get better at. I definitely think this comes more naturally to some people over others, but I think it’s something that we all need to practice with one another. Intentional conversation allows us to really get to know someone and know them deeply. I’m not a small talk person. I would rather just get to the deeper things and really get to know someone rather than talk about the weather or the latest movie we’ve seen. I want to know who a person is. This comes through asking intentional questions and having valuable conversations with someone. It can be hard to break through the surface level, but one way I do that is asking what a someone’s normal day looks like. This allows me to get to know what they do for their job, in their free time, etc. and then I can ask specific questions about those things which may lead to other questions and so on.
4. BREAK OUT THE GOOD STUFF
I admit when I originally came up with this point I immediately thought about alcohol and bringing out your best wine or whiskey or whatever it is you like to drink. I actually thought about my husband on this one because he loves to share his favorite whiskey with our friends. BUT. As I started thinking about it, this really applies to more than just alcohol. It’s about offering people the best of what you have and not giving them the leftovers. Not to make yourself look better, but to show people you want them to share life with you. I’m not just talking about physical things here either. Offering your best can just be listening to the best of your ability or trying your best to get to know them on a deeper level.
I believe these points are the difference between hospitality and entertaining. Hospitality is making it about the other person and entertaining is making it about you. Let’s make people feel loved and welcomed in our homes. Let’s put them first by putting their needs above ours.