Monday, April 15, 2013

Stress-Free Hospitality

      One barrier to hospitality is the notion that it must be a big event, which requires tremendous fuss over serving an impressive meal and having the home spotlessly clean. In the meanwhile, stress in one individual builds and pours out as unloving behavior to the other members of the family. In the end, no one is keen on incorporating hospitality into daily life. 

      Good thing that this notion of hospitality is false! Hospitality is the opening of our home, and thereby our lives, to others. People don't always want to see that which is flawless about life. Real connections are made when real messes are seen, both in our personal lives and homes. Hospitality isn't about putting on a show, but sharing life together. 

       In desiring to bring hospitality into a common place in our life and home, I knew that it wouldn't work if I stressed and fussed to the point of the effort turning into misery. I've learned a few steps that I can take to keep my home ready for guests.


     There is a difference between "clean" and "tidy." "Clean" refers to the scrubbing aspects of housekeeping like mopping, shower scrubbing, toilet scrubbing and other deeper cleaning tasks. "Tidy" simply refers to clutter. When it comes to expecting guests suddenly, aim for the home to be tidy. If there are a few shoes out or stacks of books/dvds/cds etc., then don't worry about it. It doesn't have to be 100% clutter-free. A spotless showroom is just as uncomfortable as a impassible mess! 

      Obviously, the deeper cleaning tasks cannot be neglected. However, these tasks are ones that are best kept up with by using a weekly cleaning routine. Using those smelly cleaners (including natural cleaners like vinegar) prior to a guest arriving isn't inviting at all. In fact, your guest may feel as though you did go through a lot of fuss, and be less willing to visit frequently in the future out of fear of inconveniencing you. Following a weekly cleaning routine will ensure that the home is always presentably clean. 

      There are a few areas of the home to make sure are always kept clean: bathrooms, cooking/food preparation areas- microwave, stovetop, oven, refrigerator, countertops in bathroom and kitchen wiped down, dirty laundry in baskets in laundry room, and if dishes are in sink then they should be rinsed and not overflowing. All of these tasks require little more effort than wiping down with a cleaning cloth. 


     Serving guests is not the time to try out a new recipe. Stick with your tried-and-true favorites!  I find it helpful to keep a section in my recipe notebook just for meals that would be good for hospitality. These meals may also be found in other sections of my binder. It's just nice to have a few gathered that I know are great options for serving guests. It doesn't have to be something fancy either. Simplicity is key! Who doesn't enjoy the simple meal of spaghetti with sides of corn, squashes, or salad? We all eat dinner, and so hospitality can be as easy as inviting guests to join you in for a typical dinner night. It's about the relationships not the meal anyways!

     Have a couple of meals on hand that you can prepare for guests. Even if the meal requires some assembly the moment of need, you can still create some shortcuts by prepping some ingredients ahead of time and storing in the freezer. For quick visits, keep teas and coffees in the pantry. Also, drop cookie dough on a pan like normal, but instead of baking place the pan in the freezer. Once frozen, gather all the dough balls in a baggie. When you want just a few for a guest, then grab those out of the freezer, thaw, and bake. It's a lovely touch to have a little something for a pop in visit by a friend to chat. (And who doesn't like homemade cookies?!)

Focus on the Heart of the Matter

     Hospitality is the gracious welcome of individuals into one’s home. The heart of the matter is relationships. A healthy home needs the liveliness and joy of friends and family gathered within the walls. However, it doesn't need this if it comes at the cost of unloving behavior while preparing for guests. Determine to fight the urge to stress and fuss unnecessarily (I have to at times!). Take a deep breath and refocus on the heart of the matter. If you have children, then keep in mind that your behavior will either encourage or discourage your children to adopt the practice of hospitality in their lives. 

What are some of the ways that permit you to incorporate hospitality in a more stress-free manner in your home?

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