Hospitality! Have you ever noticed the first 3 syllables spell HOSPITAL, which is often where I felt like I needed to go after entertaining guests? While I know hospitality is one of my spiritual gifts, and I love, love entertaining, there has also been a down side of it for me. Because I love being hospitable so deeply, many times I would take it to the extreme. I felt or thought I needed to do everything perfectly, otherwise what message would that send to my guests about me.
So, I would start planning weeks in advance for whatever I was hosting: dinner party, overnight guests, missionaries or pastor’s family, a new family at church, or just a party. I planned the meal/s, where overnight guests would sleep, gifts for their bedrooms, and I would clean, clean, clean. I recall one time I was painting a hallway the day our Sunday school class was coming over, because “it just needed it and someone might notice it needed painting”.
This went on for years and I really enjoyed preparing for and having guests, but……. as I got older, had more children, and became busier, it was not as easy to have guests, or to do it up like I used to. And I began to be so exhausted that I would nearly fall off the couch into a puddle, while our guests were still there.
Then one day when our oldest was about 17, and I was frantically cleaning the house, with all 4 children helping me, he said something that caught me off guard. He said, “Mom, I hate it when we have company, because you act so crazy and you work us all to death”. YIKES, what a slap in the face. Who me. Act crazy. Wasn’t I just following through with my “spiritual gift? And wasn’t I being a good delegator, involving my children to help. Once I came down from the “my feelings are hurt” hill, I actually thought about what my son said, and made some changes, slowly though.
Here are some of those changes and some hospitality tips to keep it simple, easy, fun, and you shouldn’t end up in the HOSPITAL just because of the art of hospitality.
1. THE SCHEDULE
Have a business meeting with you husband once a week or bi weekly to go over both of your schedules, as well as your children’s if you have children.
- At that meeting sync up all the schedules onto one calendar, including meetings, dinners, church and children’s activities, who is cooking meals, shopping, etc.
- If you were the CEO of a company, you’d definitely be having business meetings and let’s face it, most wives are the CEO of the family’s social life.
- It is a great way to not only have the entire family on the same page, it also lets you and your spouse see your lives written down on paper and decide if you need to eliminate or change some things.
- This is the best time to discuss any scheduled events, dinners, etc. you as the pastor’s wife have decided to “host” or been asked to do so.
2. THE ESSENTIALS
Create a hospitality box for dinners and parties with the possible following items:
- Paper plates, cups, napkins, table clothes plastic flatware (you can pick up seasonal paper products on sale after different holidays, etc.)
- And/or “real” dinner ware. Make it interesting have a variety of different plates picked up at yard sales or consignment shops. (Martha Stewart’s idea)
- Table arrangements, candles, and other seasonal or themed items.
- Candy, mints, gifts, etc. for guests just in case you may need them.
- Essentials you can never seem to find: scissors, tape, markers, pens, pencils, etc.
- Special coffees or teas
- Anything you usually need when hosting, make it personal to meet your needs.
Create an overnight guest container or shelf in a closet with the following items:
- Bed sheets, blanket or quilt, pillow/s (all in an airtight bag to keep them fresh)
- Clean towels, wash cloth, bar or liquid soap-place on bed when you have guests
- Little gifts, candy, mints, bottled water, which can be placed on guests towel.
- Make up several of these “containers” and when you have unexpected or even planned guests you don’t have to go searching for clean sheets and towels, etc.
3. THE PREP
- For dinners or parties, set the table the night before or the morning of (you can cover the entire table setting with a table cloth or sheet until you are ready to use it.
- Spot clean your house; sweep in the middle of the floor, Swiffer dust, wipe off guest bathroom with those Clorox wipes, clean inside of toilet, Clorox kitchen counters and sink, take out trash, hide dirty dishes in dishwasher or the stove.
4. THE MEAL
- Pick a few recipes that you really like to prepare and have those on hand
- Freeze up some of your favorite meals
- Make instant potatoes instead of real
- Buy your dessert from the store or a bakery
- Prepare seasonal food
- Keep the meal simple, i.e. casserole, salad, bread, dessert
- Stock up on frozen meals from the store when they are on sale
- Stock up on rolls, bread, etc. on sale and freeze
- Stock up on drinks on sale, or better yet serve water with a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber, or berries
- Make pizzas from scratch with everyone picking their own toppings.
- Have the meal catered-check around for a someone new just getting started in the business=usually they are less expensive
5. FINAL TOUCHES
- Say a prayer, ask some friends to pray for you, as well
- Take a nap or rest if at all possible. Get a good night’s sleep the night before.
- Your guests may not remember how your table or house looked, or how good the meal was, but they will remember how you treated them, and it’s hard to be HOSPITABLE if you’re exhausted
- Light a candle! Uncover your table! Prepare the meal!
- Smile and really enjoy your guests
And I promise you won’t end up in the HOSPITAL!
Thank you, Sheila, for the help! I especially like the box idea to have everything ahead of time! Laura
Sheila grew up in the hills of West Virginia, the oldest of five children. Imagination was highly promoted by her mother. She has wanted to be an author as long as she can remember. Long story-short by the time she and her husband Greg's 4 children were all raised, Sheila had graduated with her masters in Social Work from OSU. She now has a private counseling practice, which allows her the free time to seriously pursue her writing. Sheila published her first children’s book: The Real Happily Forever After Place in 2013, and recently published her second book, Drive Thru Couple’s Counseling. Today she lives in Dayton, Ohio, with her husband of 40 years, where you can find Sheila happily writing, scrap booking with friends, playing with grandchildren and seeing clients.