The holidays are here, and it is truly one of the best times to try to practice hospitality in your home.
First of all, during this festive time, there are so many reasons and excuses to get together! Friendsgiving, baking Christmas cookies, watching holiday movies, Ugly Sweater parties, Winter Solstice celebrations, decorating the house, trimming the tree, New Year’s Eve parties are just a few to mention.
Take advantage this holiday season and surprise someone with an invite to a simple cup of coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy the fellowship! It will bring joy, warmth, encouragements, connection, and countless other benefits of practicing hospitality to you and your guests.
Here are a few practical tips on how to start practicing hospitality in your home and in your heart this season.
How to Practice Hospitality:
Whether you’re an introvert, new to town, or just lack confidence, do not start with hosting a holiday party!! Start very small!
For example, invite just ONE person over. Let it be a person in whose company you feel at ease. It may be your sibling, your best friend, or your mom. Because you are already familiar with this person, you will be more relaxed and have things to talk about. And who to better practice hospitality with than people who already know and love you!
As you become more comfortable hosting one person, next time invite two or more! And the time after that, maybe even invite a person you don’t know very well.
The more you practice hospitality, the easier it will get.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
From the food you serve, to the topics you want to talk about, from your outfit to your house—keeping all things simple will help you focus on the people instead of on the appearances. In fact, simplicity in your approach might very well make your guests feel at ease far better than your perfectly arranged mantle or sophisticated dessert.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with trying to cook something nice for your guests or with straightening up your house, or stylish decorations. Just as long as you don’t lose sight of your true “why” you want to host a gathering at your house.
Here’s a list of simple foods you can serve for a very low-key visit:
- Frozen appetizer (like these mushroom caps from Target)
- Cheese (like this assorted cheese tray from Target)
- And the old standby—ICE-CREAM!
Keeping things simple will help you practice hospitality without the unnecessary stress!
BE prepared WITH QUESTIONS
Meeting someone new can be difficult. But remember, when you practice hospitality and invite people into your home, it’s like you’re giving them a big welcoming hug. You show that you trust them and you like them! Ok, so an invite is your first step. Check!
If you feel nervous, it will be beneficial to have some topics for potential conversations prepared ahead of time. In fact, just taking time to think about this person/people who are coming over can help you organize your thoughts and relax. It can also bring peace and calm to your heart because you will feel confident that now you definitely have something to talk about.
Just remember that some family topics (divorce, conflict, passing of a loved one, etc.) can be a bit sensitive around the holidays. So if you sense tension during your conversation, just move on to another question/topic. It’s Ok to ask questions, but perhaps you can come back to those topics at another time when you feel more comfortable with each other.
Here’s a list of potential questions to ask:
- Where are you from?
- Do you have siblings? Any other family nearby?
- What do you typically do on Thanksgiving/Christmas?
- Do you have any holiday traditions?
- What is your favorite Thanksgiving/Christmas dish?
- Do YOU like to cook?
- What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?
- Do you sing? What’s your favorite Christmas carol/hymn/song?
- What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
- Do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? In what way?
These questions will encourage genuine conversations because, truthfully, we all LOVE talking about what we like/dislike! Take note of the answers as they may come in handy if you meet again!
DO STUFF TOGETHER
It can be pretty intimidating to have someone over (especially, someone new), and then to expect to talk for at least an hour, right?
Come up with an activity to do together that will help take the pressure off and help you and your guests bond in the process!
Examples of fun things to do together at home:
- Make a holiday craft (wreath, garland, ornaments, dried oranges, etc.)
- Bring your cookbooks/recipe binders and exchange favorite holiday recipes
- Bake/decorate cookies, then swap!
- Wrap Christmas gifts together
- Make essential oil blends
- Watch a movie!
IF YOU HAVE KIDS, INVITE FRIENDS FOR A PLAYDATE
This may seem strange at first, but hear me out. Opening your home to your kids’ friends is the perfect way TO MODEL to your kids how to practice hospitality. Invite a drop-off parent over for a few minutes, offer them a cup of coffee and chit-chat for a bit. By doing so, you will show that you are friendly, open, and desire connection. A smile and friendly gestures go a long way!
Also, you may be helping a family out to go do their holiday shopping kid-free by inviting their children come over and play. What a great way to serve through your hospitality!
Funny but insightful note.
As you interact with kids who come to pay, take some cues from WHAT THEY VALUE in a play-date. If you ask them, they will most likely answer: friends, toys, imagination, and snacks! That’s pretty basic, right? But that’s what’s important to them. And I think it’s kind of eye-opening sometimes to look at things through your kid’s eyes to see the world in its simplicity.
Our needs are, too, very basic: good food, good conversation, good friends.
HAVE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
And have it in check often. Keep asking yourself why you are having people over.
- Is it to make yourself feel better?
- Or is it to show off your house and décor?
- Is it to fulfill an obligation or out of guilt? Is it to gain something for yourself from this gathering?
If you answer “yes” to these, then it’s time to check the sincerity of your motives and readjust priorities.
To practice hospitality, and I mean GENUINE HEARTFELT HOSPITALITY, you must have, first and foremost, an attitude of SERVING and BLESSING someone other than yourself. I guarantee you, the return on your hospitality investment will come back tenfold!
Somewhere along the way we made the art of practicing hospitality far more complicated than it needs to be. We need to step back and strip it down to one simple rule: connect with people. When that comes first, when our focus IS on welcoming people into our homes and, consequently, our hearts, then something magical happens. Our surroundings, our house and its décor, our outfits/make up, and the food we offer, the topics we discuss, they will all blend together into a perfect set up. It will encourage authentic connection through conversations because that’s why the people came. They came to BE with you, not to look around and be impressed.
Let go of perfectionism, let go of the Joneses, and let go of unrealistic expectations you put upon yourself. Instead, be real, be empathetic, be encouraging, be brave to just be YOU!
Let me know what you think about hospitality and how you embrace it. Does it come natural to you to have people over or do you struggle? Do you prefer to be the host or the guest?