A Helping of Hospitality #1

Join me every Thursday for “A Helping of Hospitality.”  (This is my first attempt at vlogging!  Please bear with me.)  This series is a complementary series to Tuesday’s called, “Calm Heart, Organized Christmas“–check it out, if you haven’t already.

Many people want to practice hospitality, but are intimidated or don’t know how to start. Today I’ll look at the three most common obstacles to showing hospitality, and give practical tips for how to overcome them.

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14 Replies to “A Helping of Hospitality #1”

  1. Thanks for the tips! I love the idea of asking younger couples how they met–that’s a great icebreaker. My biggest hurdle when we have people over is the very first few moments after guests walk in the door. Do you have any suggestions for what to say or do immediately after people arrive? If we know the people well, then they’re comfortable with making themselves at home and there’s no awkwardness. But if it’s a new family from church or someone we don’t know as well, I usually have no idea what to say or do to help them get comfortable. Any suggestions? 🙂

    1. Diana, thanks for your great question! Hang on, ‘cuz this is going to be a long answer:)

      What I usually do and say is this:
      “Welcome! So glad you could come (as I’m opening the door for them to come in)! Here, let me take that for you (dish they’ve brought or anything they’re carrying). You can just hang your coat there (or take their coats). I tell them they can leave their shoes on or take them off, whichever they prefer (our entryway has hooks for coats, and shoes sitting there, so they know where to leave their shoes, if they choose that).

      We shake their hands as they each enter and repeat our names, if we don’t know them well, kids included, and say to their children, “Hi, I don’t remember your name (children, introductions, and finding out ages). Do you like playing with Legos (if they’re boys, or dolls/books/etc. for girls)?” (Then I tell them, or have my kids show them, where my son’s Legos and cars are (in his room and out for playing), while inviting everyone to come in and bringing everyone into the Family Room where my husband will be leading the husband, too, and sending my daughter to get the toys/books/little chair for the 1-4 year old, and she helps by settling the little ones into playing on the floor a little out of the way.)

      All this time, we’re asking them if they had any trouble finding our place. We comment on the weather. After they’re in, I ask them if they’d like coffee or tea or water, and my husband is leading the husband to settle in the Family Room, and he is talking to the man, usually asking what he does for a living. We show the children where the toys are and older ones are free to go and play. I get the water/coffee/tea and bring it to the men and tell them how long it will be until we eat. Usually 15-30 minutes.

      I will invite the wife/girls into the kitchen where I’m finishing up preparations for the meal, and invite them to sit at my counter or they stand or sit at my table and just begin talking to them, asking them questions about themselves: If they’ve recently come to our church, I might ask them how they found us, and what brought them to our church. Or neighborhood, or co-op or wherever I’ve met them. How long have you been living in this area, or been Homeschooling, or been married, what does your husband do, where are you originally from, does your family live in the area, how many brothers and sisters do you each have, etc., are all general information questions that are not prying, but that will allow them to talk, while you prepare food, and make them feel comfortable. People love to talk about themselves:)

      Or I talk about the food I’m fixing, and ask them if they’ve ever made such-and-such, or what they like to cook/eat. If they offer or seem comfortable, I may allow them to help with some of the prep, or if they’ve brought a salad or something that needs some final touches, they can work on that with me in the kitchen.

      Oh, and I make sure that everyone at some point knows where the restrooms are, and if the mom’s got a nursing baby, I let her know where she can go to nurse and change the baby.

      Whew! That usually takes care of the first awkward period of time! Their answers usually lead to other questions, but with this reservoir of questions to ask them, there’s not usually a problem with conversation.

      While we’re sitting at the table, is when I will ask each of the spouses (and not just young couples, it’s actually even more fun to hear old couples) tell how they met. Also I might say, “John (or Susan), I would love to hear how you came to know the Lord.” I love hearing people’s salvation testimonies.

      Thanks, Diana, for this great question! I hope this was helpful, and I welcome any other thoughts or questions you have.

      1. Thanks so much for all the ideas! I really like the idea of getting the kids started on toys right away, or asking if they had trouble finding our place. It seems like if I have a stash of questions that I’m used to asking, I don’t stumble over my words, and one thing usually leads to another.

        And “people love to talk about themselves”–so true! I’ve been trying to remember to shut up about myself 🙂

        1. Having questions ready to ask your guests and being truly interested in others is one way to show Christ’s love, but will also make you much more comfortable showing hospitality and poised around people. The funny thing is that people will also leave thinking you are a wonderful conversationalist, even though they may have done most of the talking!

  2. How exciting that you are moving into video blogging. You inspire me to try new things. Love the topic today. Can’t wait until you come speak at my co-op!

  3. I’m working on a post about hospitality (from the perspective of having a large family). I’m going to link to this post once it’s finished. Love it! Thanks Wendy!

    1. Thanks so much, Cheryl. I look forward to reading your post. Most of our friends have large families, and in our circle there’s a ton of hospitality goin’ on–your thoughts on the subject will be good to hear.

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