When my family moved from Illinois to Georgia last summer, one thing I vowed to focus on (once we were settled) was Christian Hospitality. I wanted to be that welcoming homemaker who handled visits—scheduled or not— with grace and warmth.
The Hostess is the Grossest
The entire first week we were in our new home, I made sure to shower every day, reasonably do my hair and makeup, and get dressed in real clothes. Wouldn’t you know it, not a single person stopped by during the first six days.
On the seventh day, I took a note from God’s playbook and rested from my regimen. Can you guess what happened that day? I unpacked boxes, not caring how I looked, organizing our new house all day until supper time.
The doorbell rang for the first time in the middle of that meal, and I had to meet our smartly groomed, cake-carrying neighbors with my frizzy hair, while wearing an old tank top and sweatpants, with corn stuck in my teeth.
I am so good at first impressions.
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I was mortified. But what trumped my embarrassment was gratitude.
Gratitude for new neighbors who took time out of their evening to bake us a cake and walk it over, offering it alongside their friendship. Gratitude for their helpful information about our new area. Gratitude for their grace and completely non-judgmental acceptance of my frazzled appearance. Gratitude that the cake was brought over on a real cake stand so I had an easy segue for additional conversation (and a better second impression) when it was time to return it.
I was a complete mess when our sweet neighbors dropped in on us.
But guess what? We still became friends. We still chatted on the front porch. When their girls were spending a week with their aunt, our neighbors still stopped by one night with wine glasses in hand and sat at our new dining room table and ate chocolate with us while our boys played upstairs and came down to be nosy (disguised as getting another glass of water). They still invited us to their church and to go on golf cart rides through the neighborhood so they could give us a grand tour.
Because hospitality is about connection, not perfection.
The gracious aftermath of that first meeting made me look really hard at what true biblical hospitality means.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.1 Peter 4:9
The word Grumbling loosely translates to “complaining about one’s hair, clothing, cleanliness, home decor, interrupted schedule, and any other thing we can think of to self-deprecate when we don’t feel like the very best versions of ourselves.”
Truthfully, it’s about setting aside pride and vanity and honoring God by spending genuine, quality time learning about and caring for someone else while they’re in your home.
With all of that in mind, I’ve found a few things to be helpful in taking away from distractions and maintaining a heart for hospitality.
3 Tips for Practicing Hospitality
1. Keep up with your housework.
Nobody is expecting your home to be Pinterest-Perfect, but you will feel better if your living space is not a complete pig-sty. My cleaning schedule consists of two cleaning days each week.
On Monday, I clean the entire downstairs and do all of the laundry. On Thursday, I clean the entire upstairs and do all of the laundry accumulated since Monday. Then on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I am able to just tidy up quickly after mealtimes and daily clutter and then I’m free to spend the day enjoying hobbies, running errands, or chatting with friends!
I know this schedule won’t work for everyone, but I encourage you to find a system that you can stick to! At the very least, keep the guest bath clean and have some storage baskets that you can quickly toss random items into when you’re in a pinch.
2. Care for yourself every morning.
Did you know when you get up and get dressed for the day, it sends a signal to you and others in your house that you are prepared for your day and what may come? I used to find myself still in pajamas at noon and was too embarrassed to open the door if somebody came knocking (I think this is common for many homemakers).
For the past several months, I’ve gotten into the habit of showering and getting dressed first thing in the morning (before I even come downstairs for coffee!). My energy and productivity levels have increased significantly! If you don’t already do this, try it out for a week and get back to me. Game Changer for sure.
3. Keep a Stash for Surprise Guests.
I filled a Rubbermaid container with some non-perishables like crackers, nuts, dried fruit, good chocolate, and a bottle of wine, and store it at the top of the pantry for when guests stop by unannounced.
Charcuterie is my Love Language (ha!) so I almost always have salami, nice cheese, deli mustard, and green olives in my fridge. When somebody drops by, I pull out my charcuterie board and can quickly load that sucker with a delicious spread from my pantry stash and refrigerated items.
**HINT: Even if they say they aren’t hungry or “you don’t have to go to all that trouble” (which you’ll find out it’s pretty much NO trouble at all), they’ll end up eating off of it most of the time. It’s an easy way to make guests feel welcome, even if they weren’t invited.Cheese Board Set, Cheese Tray, Charcuterie Board: includes 4 Cheese Knives with White Ceramic Handles, 4 Stainless Steel Cheese Forks, Plus Ceramic Bowl, Large Size 14″ x 11, Ideal Wedding Gifts
Of course, my list above doesn’t always happen, and that’s okay. When somebody stops by the house, they’re hoping to see me or someone in my family, not to check whether or not those breakfast crumbs are still on the counter.
Can we think about what kind of refuge we might be able to offer our guests while they’re in the presence of our home? That for at least during their visit, they can be assured that they are heard, understood, welcomed, and loved?
I’ll leave you with this, Dear Friend:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:38-42
I’d love to know what you think about this topic. Drop a comment about your own Hospitality experiences and any tips you’ve learned along the way!