Sam and I really enjoy having people into our home, and here are five tips I’ve learned that help make serving others with hospitality much easier.
When we first got married we talked about how we looked forward to having people over and using the time to get to know people and use it as a type of ministry and encouragement.
Now that Mae is here I do not have a lot of extra time to prepare elaborate meals or deep clean the house every time we want to have someone over. We did take a break for a little while, but we have started back inviting people into our home and our goal is to invite at least two families per month. It has already been so helpful and encouraging for us, and I am learning to simplify a lot! Here are some ideas that I’ve discovered are helpful for me in this stage of life.
1. Make double to freeze
We had a potluck at our house one Sunday afternoon and I made a pot of chili. I went ahead and bought a large package of ground beef and cooked the whole thing, but only put half of it in the chili and froze the other half. A few weeks later when we had company I made spaghetti and it was so much simpler! All I had to do was boil pasta and thaw the beef to mix with the sauce (that I did make, but I could have bought jarred sauce and simplified even more!). I chopped a quick salad and heated some store-bought French bread.
When I made chicken potpie for our guests I used chicken that I had frozen a while back. Someone made us a roast chicken after Mae was born and I went ahead and froze half of it since we wouldn’t be able to eat it very quickly. The chicken potpie did not turn out perfectly, but having the chicken on hand definitely made it easier!
If you’re already making something, it isn’t hard to do double and freeze it. That will make planning for guests much easier!
2. It’s okay to take shortcuts
I am definitely one who wants to make everything homemade, mostly because I enjoy it so much. But it isn’t always the best! In Romania I tried to make a homemade pie crust and it ended up being so tough you could barely eat it. If I had bought a crust it would have been better.
Sometimes it is better just for time’s sake! I love making homemade bread and I would have loved to make homemade French bread the night we had spaghetti for guests, but it would have just made me more stressed. We had guests over two nights in a row that week, and on top of my school and trying to keep the house clean, it would have been too much.
Cake mix and brownie mix is great! Yes, homemade might be better, but the mixes taste delicious too. Your guests will be delighted with something warm and sweet, no matter how it was made.
3. Don’t worry too much about cleaning
It’s not good to live in a pigsty, but your house doesn’t have to be sparkling either. You are doing to notice the crumbs on the floor or the dust on the shelf a lot more than your guest is. My main priorities for cleaning before guests come are the floors in the main areas, such as the kitchen and living room, clean counters and appliances in the kitchen (but I don’t go deep cleaning my oven or anything…) and general clutter tidied up. But sometimes not even all that gets done, or I forget to sweep up the pile of crumbs from the floor, but anything is better than nothing.
4. Keep it Simple
I’m sure your guests would love an elaborate three-course meal at a beautifully decorated table, but they will also love a simple meal on a clean table with minimal additions. You can serve spaghetti, salad, and bread on your everyday dinner dishes and light a candle in the room. You can put the butter in a nice dish or the bread in a basket for a nice touch, but your plastic dish or a plate will do also.
Aside from the food, I like to light a couple candles or have oils in the diffuser, and we like to play soft music in the background. I like using cloth napkins, but that is normal for us and they aren’t anything fancy! If I’m feeling up to it I LOVE using nice serving dishes that were given to us as wedding gifts, but if I don’t have time to wash them and arrange food on them, I don’t bother.
5. Be calm and happy
This is one I am definitely still working on. The first time Sam and I had guests over in Romania I was so stressed that Sam almost cancelled it last minute. As soon as something goes wrong I feel like shutting down, but I am learning that my guests do not care, and it will be better for me, for Sam, and for our guests if I remain calm and try to go with the flow.
It is great to want to do everything the best you can, but that’s all you can do. Strive for perfection, but settle for your best.
I hope these are helpful for you! Happy hosting!