This is Part 2 of Hospitality, No Room for Excuses. (Click on the link to read Part 1. ) One of my goals for this year of 2012 is to practice hospitality more regularly, in fact, I’d like to do it weekly, inviting families to our home, as the Lord leads. I want to get to the point where it’s a regular routine to have people in our home every week, comfortable and expected.
I also want to invest in my closest friendships (sometimes we can take these friends for granted!) by making time for them, doing special little things, inviting them over for special one-on-one times together: dessert, coffee, lunch, or whatever works.
Practicing hospitality takes intentional effort and planning, but it doesn’t require you live in a mansion or have fancy things. In Part 1 I shared practical tips on how to use what you have and still show hospitality. Now I’ll share what to do as you begin accumulating serving dishes and other things used in showing hospitality, and ideas for storing them.
We, and a couple of other families we know, have over the years accumulated items helpful in serving very large groups, such as long plastic and wooden tables, extra folding chairs, large 5-gallon drink containers, large coolers, etc., and we share these with any of our friends or people in our church who need them.
We have also found vases, beads, and other wedding reception decorations at a garage sale. We’ve used them many times when hosting wedding and baby showers at church, and loaned them out to friends for wedding receptions! It has saved a lot of money, and we know we’ll be using them time and again in the future, so it has been a good investment. The point is we’ve kept our eyes open for inexpensive items that would be helpful in our showing hospitality in our homes and other places, knowing that we will be doing it often.
You might ask, “Where do you keep it all?” As you pick up items at garage sales and thrift stores, such as serving dishes, vases, etc., you have to become creative in storing them, too. (I only recently obtained a china hutch, which sat empty for awhile, but now is filled to the max. I’m currently searching Craigslist for an additional hutch, so I can free up my hall cupboard space!) Another creative idea that my mother-in-law used was to hang folded tablecloths on special hangers and keep them in a spare closet. Being creative helps!
I am constantly getting rid of some things to make room for others and reorganizing what I have to make practicing hospitality easier. If you are going to keep one thing, another has to go. I have received much of what I own as birthday and Christmas gifts. The rest I bought on sale, or at thrift stores or garage sales. So it didn’t cost me much, but it did take years, but I didn’t wait til I got to this point.
Start where you’re at. The Bible commands us to practice hospitality. With anything you have to practice, you’ll probably want to accumulate at least a few “tools.” If your dishes are packed away and hard to get to, you won’t use them. So, have the things you will use most often near where you’ll use them, and easy to get out and put away. I store less-used items in our basement storage area on open shelves.
I store baskets and other “pretty” things on top of my kitchen cupboards. I use dishes as decorations in my house, and then pick them up and use them on my table when serving company.
Storage ideas that have worked well for me:
- Storing table linens in an old antique dresser which sits in the family room near the dining area.
- Storing my extra dishes in a deep hall cupboard. One of my cupboards goes way up into the ceiling, and I use that space for less frequently used dishes.
- Using boxes and containers to house like items and to protect glasses. I have cut strong pieces of cardboard to size so I can stack multiple layers of glassware on the hall cupboard shelf, without them breaking.
- I now have more seasonal decorations and dishes, and so I have a clear plastic container just for fall decorations stored in the entry closet that goes up over the stairs, along with the Christmas decorations, but nearer the front of the closet.
- I reserve the hall cupboard for things I use frequently because it’s more accessible.
I do not believe in storing things that I don’t use. (*I’m afraid right now my lack of organization in my storage room is keeping me from knowing just what I do have! Organizing that area is one of the things on my “to do” list.)
I think the thing I most want to convey is: We can’t wait for some magical thing to happen before we can practice hospitality. We do have to be intentional (I write the goal down in my calendar, with ideas of who to invite), then plan when to do it and follow through by making the phone call to invite. You will accumulate things, and you’ll need to think about where and how to store them most efficiently.
It’s like anything else that you have to practice: the level of difficulty of what you’re doing must fit how much you’ve been practicing and how many years you’ve been at it. If you’re a beginner, do beginner hospitality. If you’re at the intermediate level, you’ll be able to handle situations more difficult and requiring more experience and skill.
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