I’ve been thinking of hospitality lately. Erik and I LOVE to host people and really enjoy being around others. It’s part of who we are. I got this (see picture below) to hang in our home at a St. Norbert event and it really sums us up well. It hangs in our living room and when people enter the house they should be able to see it right in front of them.
We’ve gone to a few events and homes since our move here to De Pere. There was the formal President’s Dinner that was a bit nerve wracking, but had amazing and yummy food. There have been a few really fun neighbor events (our kids do so good playing together) and then there’s been the, well, how do I put it…odd events.
We’ve been blessed to meet some very friendly people here and usually take any invitation to be welcomed into another family’s home. After a strange, not quite how we would have liked it go kind of event, Erik and I sat on the couch talking over our night.
We’ve come to the conclusion that Americans are starting to forget hospitality. We aren’t always welcoming and we like to stay in our homes and forget people exist just a few feet away (ahem, they’re your neighbors). Christians are also failing at this. We’ve walked into churches and left without having a single conversation with another person. People are opting to play it safe and not extend invitations for fellowship.
Erik said I should blog about this. Smart guy, he must know much it helps me to write when something’s pressing on my mind.
Maybe this post will help someone to be more welcoming to others. It will maybe even show you how opening your home to others can bless you just as much as it blesses the other person/family.
So, without further ado here are a few guidelines for hosting folks and making them feel welcomed. (NOTE: We have met some really awesome people/families here too and have really welcoming fun friends in other places that make us feel loved–this list is not about a specific person, it’s just for everyone out there to help them practice a bit more hospitality!)
*When you invite people to your home welcome them and then introduce them to everyone else you’ve invited over. It can be awkward sometimes to not know a single person in the room and it’s intimidating to feel like you are invisible or unwelcome. Obviously if there’s a big group of people here it’s also hard to meet everyone. Just be sure to get the person connected with someone in a conversation before you wander off. If later on you see them standing in the corner looking bored out of their minds don’t just leave them there…rescue them!
*If you have invited someone who you don’t know (say, a friend invites one of their friends). Please please please, if your friend doesn’t introduce you to the people they’ve brought with them please introduce yourself, welcome them and then introduce them to the other people at your party. If not it can get a bit awkward when your kid starts throwing food everywhere and you get lost looking for the bathroom and have to ask around to figure out who’s house you’re in so you can #1 pee and #2 apologize for your child’s behavior.
*Offer your guests something to drink. Don’t assume they’ll ask. If they have to ask that’s kind of embarrassing. Same goes for food/snacks. It doesn’t matter if you’re not hungry or on a diet. Feed people…especially the little ones!
*Help people with kids feel relaxed. Don’t look at them like they’re horrible parents if their kid throws food or acts rudely. Let’s be honest here…everyone with children has had many of those moments where your children do something rude or accidentally spill something. If you don’t want Grandma’s antique white table cloth to be stained with red kool-aid, show the parents where little Jr. should sit to eat, or better yet be prepared to host a child and again, help the parents feel relaxed!!
*Having a conversation with your two best buddies at one end of the kitchen while the new guy stands a few feet away silently eating some food is not cool. I know that you may be a man and it’s awkward sometimes to get to know new people. Take it from my hubby…not fun and extremely awkward. Suck it up guys and say hello, start a conversation about something, anything!! Erik would only request you stay away from the topic of the Vikings…oh what a crappy year…sigh.
*I didn’t realize I’d have to say this, but it appears I do. Please clean your house before you have people over. I’m not talking scrub the floors, wipe every surface kind of cleaning. What I mean is vacuum up the visible piles of dirt, make sure your laundry pile of underwear isn’t sitting out for the world to see and there’s no rotting food around. You know, the basics on housecleaning. I appreciate a house that’s lived in and can turn a blind eye to a pile of toys in the corner, and some dishes in the sink, but when it’s disgustingly dirty and you’re afraid to let your small child wander for fear she’ll eat something from the dirty floor. Uff.
I apologize if some of my readers disagree. Prepare to be more angry…ha. Do people have the right to never invite over a neighbor or friend to their house. Of course. Is it healthy? Nope. I understand that not everyone is social or enjoys being around others. We all have different personalities. I’m not saying you need to have a dinner party with fancy china and pressed napkins. I’m saying you need people and especially to my Christian friends out there reading–PEOPLE NEED YOU!
Hospitality is about welcoming others. You can do that in a small tiny apartment or a mansion. It won’t matter how big your place is, what will matter is if you’ve made your guests feel important and cared for. I’ve been in cramped tiny apartments and had a GREAT time. It really is all about you making someone feel welcomed.
I could go on and on, but this seems like an appropriate place to close. For those friends reading who have loved us and welcomed us–thank you a million times. For those who are afraid to open up their homes to others, shoot me an email…let’s chat about how you can help open yourself up to fellowship with your neighbors.
Happy hosting all!