Hospitality Series: Top 10 Tips for Hospitality

With events from Super Bowl parties to holiday celebrations right around the corner, all this week we will be bringing you a variety of insights, tips, stories, resources and, of course, recipes in our Hospitality Series. Enjoy!

Hospitality. It’s a word that makes some Christians cringe, others feel inadequate, and it strikes an outright sense of fear and panic in others! Let’s face it–most of us aren’t naturally hospitable. We know we ought to grow in this area, but opening up our homes and lives is often the last thing we want to do after a long, hard day at work, whether in the home or out in the workforce. There is dinner to make, errands to run, and a to-do list a mile long. We know that God asks us to be hospitable, so we say that we’ll do it later, when life is not so busy.

But life never really slows down, does it? So relax, take a few deep breaths, and let me share a few tips. Hopefully it will help you to throw off the unhealthy expectations we all pick up over the years. We certainly tend to overcomplicate hospitality. It’s not meant to be intimidating or exhausting, but a simple reaching out to others with love.

  1. Be yourself. Although this sounds so obvious, when most of us think of hospitality, we associate it with entertaining and the production of throwing together a perfect party, which can take lots of time or specific skills. Don’t try to become Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker overnight by diving into complicated decorating projects you found on Pinterest or by attempting new recipes. Do what you do well. Be authentic to who you are. After all, your company likes the real you. They’re coming over to spend time with the real you. On the flip side, let your guests be themselves in your home, as well.
  2. Observe others. If you don’t know where to start, think back to the positive experiences you’ve had in other people’s homes. What did you like? How did you feel when you left their home that night? What made you comfortable? The goal is not to emulate these people (after all, we just talked about authenticity!), but to get ideas on what makes people feel welcomed and valued. If there is a person in your life who totally “gets” Biblical hospitality, ask to meet with them for some more in-depth advice.
  3. Hospitality doesn’t require money. You don’t need a fancy Kitchen Aid stand-mixer. You don’t need Pampered Chef tools. You don’t need matching dishes and furniture. You don’t need fancy ingredients. I’m not knocking having nice things—I like nice things—but I don’t need them to have a good time with guests. Don’t wait until you have it all together to invite people into your home. Instead, kindly offer what you have on hand to eat or drink, and don’t apologize for it. Don’t get caught up in the HGTV or magazine-touted version of hospitality.
  4. Expect the unexpected. Sometimes a friend is having a hard day and needs a listening ear, a new neighbor stops by to introduce herself, or a family member needs to drop something off at your apartment. These unplanned, unexpected visits happen, and you’ve got to just roll with it. It gets easier with time, I promise. If you’re the type of person who prefers a phone call warning before a “drop by,” ignores the doorbell, or turns off the lights to keep people away, remember that your time, your schedule, your home and everything in it really belongs to the Lord, not you. People are pretty important to God, too.  Pray that He will empower you to serve others well by letting go of your preferences, soften your heart toward unexpected company, and prepare you to receive others well, with a good attitude.
  5. Maintain a clean and tidy home. No one really enjoys cleaning, but it’s got to be done. I’m only home for a few hours each night before going to bed, so I’ve learned to use my time at home more wisely. By keeping my house basically clean and organized, I am more welcoming and relaxed with my guests. There’s nothing magical about this one. It’s just a discipline like any other discipline.
  6. Singles aren’t excluded from offering hospitality. For a long time, I subconsciously believed that hospitality was for married women or at least older women. I needed to prepare for that day, perhaps, but I didn’t need to do anything right now, right? Wrong. The time to implement hospitality is now. It’s a command in Scripture, not a suggestion. Being skilled in hospitality will benefit you in the long run, whether or not you get married. You won’t wake up the morning after your wedding, and “poof!” have hospitality all figured out. It’s a matter of “practice makes perfect” (or, at least “good enough”), like every other learned skill in life. Start now.
  7. Start small. Start by inviting your closest friends over for coffee, box-mix brownies, and good conversation. Host a double-date movie night with your husband and your favorite “couple friends.” Invite some church friends over for a book club, and let the kids play in the backyard while you discuss the latest selection. Whatever you enjoy doing, start with the people you know, love, and trust.  If your brownies burn, no biggie! After you’ve had a few small, successful get-togethers, your confidence in hospitality will build.
  8. Be intentional and notice needs. Once you’ve practiced on your friends, be intentional to invite people into your home who don’t fit into your usual, comfortable circle of friends. Perhaps it’s the new family at church, a co-worker who has just been through a divorce, or a college student living a long way from home. Pray that God will open your eyes toward people who could use some company and an invitation into your home, and then follow through when He prompts you.
  9. The purpose of hospitality is ministry. Hospitality is about cultivating a warm and inviting environment that displays the gospel. Your home can be a place of ministry to everyone who enters, becoming a safe refuge in an often harsh, weary world.  In the midst of preparing a “soft spot” for guests, don’t neglect to nurture that environment for those living under your roof (who are, after all, the most important people in your life). Whether it’s a roommate or your husband and children, they need to know that you are available to them, and that home is a good place to be—a place of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In fact, if you are married with children, your home is your primary place of ministry, whether or not you work outside of the home.
  10. The most important thing you can offer guests is your attention. Jim Elliot, a Christian missionary and martyr, said “Wherever you are, be all there.” I think of this quote often, and try to implement it every day by giving the person in front of me my undivided attention. This relates to hospitality in that everyone wants to be noticed, respected, and valued.  Practically-speaking, don’t let distractions get in the way of being “in the moment” with someone, no matter who it is, where you are, or what you are doing.

Do any of these tips resonate with you in particular? What tips would you add to the list?

RECIPE: Roasted Asparagus with Penne Pasta

1 pound asparagus

1 TBSP olive oil

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup + 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp. brown sugar

1 pound of penne pasta

1/2 c. butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (if desired)

1. Heat the over to 400º. Snap the tough ends off of the asparagus and discard them. Cut the asparagus spears into smaller pieces (approx. 1 inch each). In a bowl, toss the asparagus with the oil and 1/4 tsp. each of the salt and pepper. Put on a baking sheet and roast until tender, approximately 10 minutes.

2. Put all of the vinegar into a small saucepan, and simmer until only about 3 TBSP remains. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 tsp. of pepper. Remove from heat.

3. Cook the penne pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, parmesan, and the remaining salt.

4. Serve with additional parmesan, if desired.


Lindsay Blackburn is an ordinary Montana girl who loves life and its many wild and crazy adventures. Follow Lindsay on Twitter @ellesbee.

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