February 6, 2023
Last week I shared a few obstacles to hosting and some possible solutions for those concerns. Today, I would like to share some ideas about how to actually host and a few more comforting words to those who may still shy away from hospitality.
First, a few encouragements...
You see all the dirt, grime, and misplaced items in your home. Chances are your guests will not see all the irritating details that you see. Guests see the sweeping picture of your home.
If you are like me, so often I find myself looking down the whole day. Down at the dirt on the floor that I just swept. Down on the clothes dumped on the floor. Down on the toy out of its spot again.
When I look up, I am often pleasantly surprised. I then see the lovely decorations that have been given to me or carefully created. I see the thought and care that I took to create a pleasing vignette on that dresser. I see the beautiful details that God has allowed us to add to our home over time.
So look up, my friend, and see the blessings in your home. Try to view your home through the eyes of a guest. Don’t worry about every tiny detail, but focus on the biggest ways to improve your home.
Try to keep your home relatively “guest-ready” all the time. I realize this may not always be possible, but keeping a rhythm of cleanliness and orderliness to your home will help relieve stress when you get an unexpected text saying a friend is a few minutes away.
Recently, I printed a simple cleaning schedule that works for our house. Your home is different than my home and will require a different routine. If you sat down and wrote out a schedule for your home, what would it look like?
Hosting does not have to be fancy. Being fancy is certainly special, and I hope to “get there” someday when my kids are a little older.
When I first got married, I tried to replicate the gentile manners my mother taught me for serving food. Each meal was carefully served in serving dishes at the table, and I replicated this lovely yet time-intensive habit (never mind the mountain of dishes this created!) My new husband, a hard-working fireman, could not have cared less how the food was served to him; he just needed some calories!
Over time, I learned from generous yet practical ladies in my new country home-town. I remember being somewhat shocked in the home of a new friend who dared to served Sunday night supper right from her stovetop onto paper plates! Who would have thought of such a simple thing?
Over time, I have simplified our family meals and have even eliminated serving dishes. I simply serve straight from the counter/stovetop right onto our plates. Do I long to add more layers of beauty to my life someday? Yes. But serving three meals a day to my family out of serving dishes would drive me to insanity at this stage. I have even come to adopt this simple method of hosting when guests are in our home. We usually thank the Lord for our food standing up, we grab our plates, and we head for the counter and stovetop to fix our plates. Simple and sustainable for me.
Simple Meal Ideas
So now for a few simple and practical ideas for food. Many of these ideas you can keep on hand for surprise guests. Someday, I hope to entertain in a more refined manner, but for now these simple ideas are doable for me.
Frozen Pizza—there’s no shame in this! Keeping a few extra pizzas in the freezer can help you stay ready for last minute guests. Homemade pizza is another relatively easy (and inexpensive) option when feeding a crowd unexpectedly. This past week some of our good friends came over to help us work on our master bath. I had the ingredients for homemade pizza and chocolate chip cookies on hand, and everyone loved the meal!
Nachos—I love this option especially for those with health concerns. This meal is easily customizable which is what makes it so great. I’ve even bought cheap cookie sheets from the Dollar Tree which are the perfect personal-size pans for nachos. Here are some ingredients we use to put nachos together.
Chips – my favorite are the multigrain ones from Aldi (just feels a little healthier to me than the typical corn chips but these chips still have a great crunch). Blue chips are also another healthy and fun option. I keep a cute basket on the top of my fridge and try to always keeps about 3 bags of these yummy chips so I am ready for hosting anytime!
Black beans—I try to keep several cans of black beans in my pantry which helps keep this meal always at the ready
Cheese—I am a bit of a cheese snob. I do not like pre-shredded cheese because it has extra “stuff” in it. Nothing beats freshly grated cheese for nachos! You could experiment with a variety of cheeses for nachos. Monterrey Jack, Pepper Jack, Cheddar, and even Mozarella would all be yummy options. I always keep about 6 blocks of cheese in my fridge, so here again is another easy meal for me to serve even to unexpected guests.
Spices-cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder. The beauty of a nacho bar is that you can let guests put their own spices on!
Hamburgers and homemade sweet potato fries
Sandwiches and/or Salad
A few last words of encouragement...
Perhaps you have nothing to offer a guest. You may say, “Ashley, I truly have nothing to offer. My cupboards are bare, and I’m so embarrassed of my home.” Dear friend, may I speak a work of encouragement to you? The simple yet often courageous act of opening your door to a guest and willingly allowing that soul to cross your threshold and into the sphere of your personal life IS the very act of hospitality.
You may truly have nothing to offer a guest and your home may not be quite where you want it to be, but I daresay you can offer a seat and a cold cup of water as Jesus encouraged His followers to do. Jesus said that there will be a reward to those who give a cold cup of water to a little child in His name!
Please do not let the externals of hospitality hinder you—the food, the table settings, your home, your daily life, etc. Hospitality is all about relationships and building friendships!
Friend, there have been times in my life when I longed for friendship, and I believe the other party longed for friendship as well. Yet there was a wall that kept us apart from one another. An ugly wall created by pride and selfishness. I had opened my home in a gesture of friendship and desired a reciprocal token of love, yet the door was closed to me and the hand of hospitality removed from my presence. Sadness and loneliness ached in my heart because I longed to help and speak words of comfort, yet the front door stood between my friend and me. That friend will never know the depths I was willing to go to help her improve her life. Yet she will never know my love for her all because she would not open her front door to me.
Dear one, open the door. Open the door of your heart to others. Open your front door to others. You will be blessed and you will bless the hearts of many!