Hospitality isn’t about being the perfect host, or having the perfect home. It’s about the spirit in which you invite others into the most personal place you can–your house. And yeah, that means being cool with them using your bathroom (even if you’re potty training your little boy), using your chipped dishes (unless you use paper plates…heap the blessings on the person who invented those), and knowing that there’s a chance that something could get broken over the course of the visit.
And that’s awesome.
Hospitality is all about receiving guests (and strangers) in a generous, friendly and purposeful way. Did you know that hospitality and hospital came from the same root word? You did? Man, you’re smart. Think about the implications of that. We have the privilege of opening our homes to help people heal, whether it’s triage, or long-term rehab. The neat thing is that in the thick of connecting with others, the healing benefits are reciprocated.
But sometimes, hosting is just downright hard, especially if you’ve had a long work week, or school week, or just busy-life week. And if it’s with people you don’t really know yet…whew.
I love having people over, and I want to share with you the not-so-secret secrets to exercising your hospitality muscles without having to take a week to recover (like what happens to me when I hit the gym once in a never).
1. Find some people.
This could be family members, friends, neighbors (they’re easy to find; they live next to you), co-workers, that kid in your kid’s class’ family, the barista that just moved to the area. Use your imagination and don’t be scared to invite people over that live and look differently than you.
2. Set the date.
You have to actually arrange a time with people to get over there. I swear, this can be the hardest part. Between figuring out everyone’s schedules and nailing down a day that works, if you don’t purpose to do it, it won’t ever get done. It also requires intentionality and occasionally persistence. Don’t give up here.
3. Get some food.
This is a super way to help connection. Everyone’s in a better mood when there’s food. I’m not talking shallots and turmeric and a bay leaf type foods necessarily (I only named those things because they sound exotic enough that they very rarely end up in food I prepare). I’m talking chili, take and bake pizza, crockpot. If you love to cook, by all means, shallot it up right nice, but preparing an elaborate, expensive meal is not required to be a good host.
Once the date is set, you can prepare. Clean, but don’t CLEAN. Clean like your friend is coming over, not the president. Set the tone of the evening from the get go. If your guests arrive and you’re frazzled and half-crazed, it introduces stress to the situation immediately. Dress yourself and your home to communicate comfort and ease. You can have everything ready, or be in the midst of food prep when they come. A good conversation can happen over tossing a salad.
5. Have F-U-N
F—feast (bread, pasta, soup, salad, dessert…if it’s good, it should go in your mouth), free yourself up (it’s okay to leave the dishes until your guests leave, or leave that hot mess until the next morning)
U—unclench (messes will happen), upturn your face (a way for me to say smile and laugh while still fitting in with the alliteration I’ve got going on), understand one another (work at listening well)
N—need one another: this is the best part. You are creating community within your community and that connection will be a lifeline.
The bottom line is this: hospitality is more about connection and less about impressin’. Some of the best memories for our family have been with friends, old and new, around food.
Now, text that friend and invite them over.