Tuesday March 13, 2007

     Now that we understand what hospitality is, and are convinced that we should be actively involved in practicing hospitality, how do we do it?  I’ve already given you some ideas about the who, what, when and how in previous posts.  Go back and read those if you have not already done so, or to refresh your memory.  Be sure to read the comments, too.  There are several very good, very practical ideas to be found there.  Here are some more thoughts and ideas:

     If you are new to the idea of hospitality, I would suggest starting off slow and easy.  Invite a few folks over for dessert and coffee.  The number of folks you invite is, of course, up to you; but I might suggest limiting numbers for your first time if you are nervous.  If you have a small family, invite one other family about the size of your own, or two couples.  A simple homemade dessert, or even a package of store bought cookies displayed prettily on a plate, will suffice.

     An evening of games and snacks is a fun ice-breaker for folks that you don’t know well. Skip-Bo and Uno are two easy to learn card games that all ages enjoy.  My famiy was recently introduced to the game Apples to Apples, which is a great family friendly game.  Even fairly young children can enjoy these games.  Stopping between hands to chat while the points are being tallied keeps the conversation flowing, and having the game to turn back to when there is a lull in the conversation keeps the silence from being too awkward.  The snacks don’t need to be extravagant.  Chip & dip.  Cookies.  Crackers & cheese.

     If you want to include a full meal, how about spaghetti?  A spaghetti dinner is inexpensive, quick and easy to fix, and a great family meal.  Some other inexpensive meal ideas are meatless lasagna, chicken casseroles, or even a salad supper in the summertime from the bounty of your garden.  If your finances allow, you may of course offer your guests something fancier.  Just remember, that expensive meals are not necessary!

     I want to encourage you to make practicing hospitality a family affair.  Your husband, as head of your home, would of course be included; but it is vital that we teach our children the importance of practicing hospitality as well.  Don’t panic if their manners aren’t perfect, or even if they blow it big time when you have guests.  Most people understand that our children are children, and childish misadventures will not bother them in the least.  You are training your children and they must have practice to learn what is expected.  Give them LOTS of opportunities to hone their hospitality skills.  Also, do be sure to include your guests’ children in your invitations!

     However, there may be occasions when practicing hospitality does not involve the whole family.  For example, you might wish to extend an invitation to a group of women to join you for afternoon tea or coffee.  Or, perhaps, you might want to invite a few other moms with young children in for an afternoon of fellowship while the children play together in the backyard.  There may be occasions when an invitation is extended to just couples.  I think that these are all good examples of hospitality, but let’s remember to include entire families as frequently as possible.

     Many years ago, our family opened our home for lunch several days a week during the summer to our neighborhood’s “latch key” children.  They were home on summer break, but the parents were at work and the kids were home alone every day. With my husband’s permission, I served many a paper plate full of nachos (just chips and the cheap, canned cheese sauce), hot dogs, PBJ sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, bologna sandwiches, cheap freezer pizzas, and even chicken nuggets.  My daughters were both young girls at the time, but they both remember our doing this together.  When the children who were around were from families we knew, I invited them in to eat at either our table, or to picnic on the family room floor.  Sometimes we watched a video while we ate.  If I didn’t know the families, then the paper plates were passed out the front door and the children picnicked in our front yard.  I have no way of knowing if any of those children remember us and our loving them with a smile, a warm welcome and a meal.  I don’t know, but God does.  Who knows what He did with the seeds He allowed us to help plant?  Corin wrote a lovely post on this.  Click here  if you’d like to read it.

     I do want to spend just a moment reflecting on Hebrews 13:1-2 – “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  I think the best definition of “stranger”, for our purposes here, is “someone unknown; one unacquainted; a visitor”.  I do want us to be careful here.  My husband and I have talked about this some, and we do not believe that this means that you are to pick up vagrants off the street and bring them home for a meal.  While we feel very strongly about feeding the hungry, we do this in a way that does not involve hospitality or endangering our family.  Please hear me, I am not saying that it is wrong to take in a homeless person.  I’ve known families that have done just that and have lived to tell about it.  Please, just be very, very, very careful, especially if you have children at home.

     However, there are strangers all around us!  How about reaching out to that brand new family at your church?  Introduce yourself, and invite them to follow you home after church for a sandwich.  Do you have a new neighbor?  Does your husband have a new co-worker? Here’s a tricky one, but one that I’ve done…..how about inviting over an Internet friend? Several years ago, Copper and I invited a young couple over after I’d chatted a bit with the wife on-line.  We were able to minister to this young family for many months until they moved away from our area.  Again, I would advise caution, but there are many of you that are, in reality, “strangers” to me; yet I’d willingly invite you in if you were in my area.

     I have encouraged you, thus far, to not be overly anxious about what you serve, the size of your home, etc.  I still stand by that advice.  However, I do want you to remember that we are to do all things as unto the Lord.  With that thought in mind, please do give a little bit of thought to this.  Do your best, within your means, to give your guests your best.  It doesn’t cost any extra to put the package of store cookies out onto a pretty plate.  It doesn’t take much extra effort to light a scented candle before your guests arrive, or to set the table nicely ahead of time.  Cut a few flowers from the yard for a vase on the table.  Place a fresh, neatly folded hand towel out in the bathroom.  What would be pleasing to your guests?

     Tomorrow I’ll end this series by talking about behaving hospitably while practicing hospitality.  Believe it or not, with all of the “dos”, there are also a few “don’ts”!

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27

Be Sociable, Share!

7 comments to Tuesday March 13, 2007

  • Another wonderful and encouraging post, Mrs. Copperswife! I agree with you on the easy, quick to prepare meals. Our guests have seemed to enjoy comfort foods…lasagne, shepherd’s pie, ect. We love the game Apples to Apples and I like your idea of having friends over for dessert/snacks to play it! I can’t wait to read your next post!
    Kelli

  • Great post!!! Thought when I read this, “It doesn’t take much extra effort to light a scented candle before your guests arrive, or to set the table nicely ahead of time. Cut a few flowers from the yard for a vase on the table. Place a fresh, neatly folded hand towel out in the bathroom.” I cringed thinking of how many times I haven’t done these things for you!!! I’m ALWAYS forgetting to check the bathroom for a clean hand towel. Thanks for still coming over! 🙂

    Sheepishly,
    Lisa

  • Lisa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You and your family are the very picture of hospitality!  Good grief, you even have fresh flowers in your bathroom!!! 😉   Besides…..you’ve welcomed us into your home so often that we don’t qualify as guests anymore.  In fact, we should be added to the chore chart! :yes:

  • LOL, I love that…added to the chore chart! At my house if you’ve been over more than once you are more than welcome to help yourself to the cupboard and fridge for anything you need. Not that I won’t serve you but I want people to feel comfortable enough to help themselves!
    I was coming by to tell you that my African Violet bloomed today so thank you for the advice on cutting off the dead flowers!
    Kelli

  • Kelli – We do the same thing here!! 

    I’m so glad the violet bloomed!!!  What color are its flowers?  All of mine are blooming right now, save one.  I keep peeking to see if there are any buds on it, but none so far.  Enjoy yours!

  • The flowers are a purplish pink. I’m hoping my other one blooms soon because I can’t remember what color of flowers it has. I’m hoping dark purple…that’s my favorite!
    Kelli

  • I’ve been reading through your suggestions on hospitality and am sweetly reminded of its importance. Thank you kindly! Hospitality can also be bringing a meal to a family in need, along with your presence for a time. We did this last night and were so happy to be used by our Lord in this way. Bless you!