“Teach me your ways.”
How many times have you said that to someone you know who does something really well? Every time I see a mom in control of 3+ kids, that’s me to that mom, usually on my knees with hands clasped offering to buy her lunch if she’ll just impart a bit of her motherhood wisdom on me. (I kid of course, but really.)
I get the same request often from friends and family about my set of hosting skills.
I think a good portion of how I approach being a hostess comes from my rearing- my parents modeled a welcome-arms approach to our home growing up: anyone was welcome, and everyone was important.
But then I’d say the rest of it mostly stems from my experiences abroad on mission trips, especially the first trip I took when I was 15 to Ecuador.
Our team stayed in a guest house there run by a couple from Canada. We were well trained for this trip and went down with a “you are responsible for your own needs” kind of mindset. So when we were greeted by people who made us breakfast each morning and tended to our linens, it was more than note-worthy. I caught the host-bug then and there. I wanted to provide that same feeling of care and attention for other people when they were out of their home and in mine.
The next several mission trips I took taught me more about what makes a great host and what makes a very poor one. All things I’ve taken to heart in many ways.
Since David and I got married, we’ve tried to always keep the mindset that our home, no matter how big or small it may be, is a gift that we are to be a good steward of. The best way we’ve found to do that (aside from taking good care of it) is to share our home with others.
But how? How do you host people in your home WELL? It’s really not that hard if you keep a few basic things in mind…
Cleanliness. There aren’t many people who are comfortable in dirty spaces, especially if the dirt isn’t their own. Your home, or the spaces that your guests will be in, doesn’t have to be spotless or sparkle, but think of “clean” as your foundation. If it isn’t clean, don’t go trying to cook them a 12 course meal. Clean the house before you do anything else, and then order pizza.
People eat. Speaking of pizza, be prepared to feed your guests- even if they’re arriving at 2pm in the afternoon. Cheese, fruit, and crackers. Muffins and coffee (my personal favorite). A veggie tray with hummus. They may not eat it, but a good host offers. Also, only offer things you know are good. Don’t experiment with guests. Have a couple go-to recipes and always use those when you have company. And if you’re a terrible cook, order in, or go out. Remember, people NEED to eat.
Choices (and back-ups). I have a laundry list of food intolerances, so I appreciate it when I’m eating over at someone’s home, and I have choices. I also REALLY appreciate it when my host asks me if there is anything I can’t eat before I arrive. Don’t only have one type of milk- have two choices. If your guest is bringing kids- don’t assume they like chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. Today they might, but tomorrow they won’t. You’ll make it easier on that mom and dad by having choices, and back-ups.
The Golden Rule. If you were staying at someone’s house, what things would you like to have available to you? For me, I like to be independent, so I don’t like asking for help, which translates to I don’t want to have to ask my host where something is. My mother-in-law has always been the queen of having spend-the-night guests. Fresh towels (and extra towels) are always in the guest bath along with every kind of sample toiletry you could possibly need and bottles of filtered water. If I forget a toothbrush, I don’t have to go ask for one or send hubby out for a late night errand. Other things people like to have without having to ask for: wifi passwords, a white noise maker or small fan in their bedroom, extra toilet paper stocked in the bathrooms, and knowledge of how to unlock a child-proof-locked potty before they enter said bathroom in the middle of the night (I may or may not be speaking from personal experience).
Attention. Your guest has made an effort to come to your home. Whether it’s for a long weekend or just an afternoon coffee break, they made time for this, make time for them. Don’t answer your phone or respond to a text while they’re over (unless absolutely necessary, of course, or if they’re staying for an extended length of time). Give them your full attention, as much as you can. Often, I’m hosting friends or family and both of my kids will eventually loose interest in every single plaything / book we own and begin running circles around the kitchen table. In those moments, I’ll turn on an educational TV show for them to watch. And because I don’t frequently plug them into electronics, I’m completely OK with turning on the TV for them while I visit with a friend. And my kids are more than OK with it. And my guest gets my attention for 20ish minutes, which is really the whole reason they came over anyway.
Is this a formula for perfect hosting skills? Certainly not. Do I get it right all the time? Nope. But, these are a few of “my ways” that I think speak warmth and welcomeness and comfort and love to people when they’re in my home, and I hope they encourage you to open your home up to others as well.
Do you have the gift of hosting? If so, what is a go-to thing you always make sure you do for guests when you’re expecting company? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Until next time,
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