Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thoughts on Hospitality

I have mixed feelings about hospitality.  I enjoy having people over, or at least I enjoy the concept of it.  I will plan it, and look forward to it.  But then when I get there I have some hang-ups about the entire experience. The following is just a hodge-podge of thoughts I have on hospitality.  They aren't terribly well organized.  But this post has been in the works for about a month and I figure I'll go ahead and put it up. 

1. Cleaning-  I am not one of those people who keeps a spotless house.  I do clean when it's just us at home, but not as much as I should.  This means that when we plan on having people over, I need to do some major cleaning.  I'm usually fairly content to do what I can.  I don't usually sweat about the minor details (maybe because by that time I've finished literally sweating about the major ones).  I vacuum, clean bathrooms, clean the kitchen, straighten up.  I may or may not (probably not) get to dusting.

2. Time- We're all busy, of course.  It's so easy to think that we're too busy to add something extra, to cook and clean for new people, to cut into any relaxation time.  Sometimes I think this is valid and it's ok to allow yourself a season in which you really just can't add any pressure.  But more often it's probably an excuse.

3. Energy- My particular problem with hospitality lies here.  I have been rushing around the house cleaning, cooking, doing all the last minute things.  Everything is ready.  I can finally sit down.  But wait, the guests will be here soon.  And I have to try to participate in conversations and make them feel comfortable.  My personality is such that this doesn't come terribly easy to me. I can do it, but it takes effort and it helps when I am rested and relaxed.  That usually isn't the case after the scramble to get the house ready for company. 

4. Selfishness-
     a. It's my time.  I need to relax.  We've been so busy.  This can be valid, but I imagine that most of the time it isn't.  
     b. We've had so many people over but we hardly ever receive invitations ourselves.  Yes, people probably should reciprocate.  But is this why we do it?  No.  At least it shouldn't be.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I can think of one invitation we haven't reciprocated on ourselves.  We had our reasons, but whether they're valid or not is another story.  So maybe all those people have their own reasons, either valid or not, for not having us over in return.

5. Space- There are challenges we have to consider, and they vary depending on who we're having over.  We have pets to keep an eye on.  That can be a concern for people with allergies, and with little kids we have to keep an eye on the dog since he isn't necessarily used to interacting with them (he's good, but bears watching).  Depending on how many people we're having over, parking can be a concern.     

6.  Food- Cooking isn't an issue for me.  I usually don't plan something too crazy or experimental when we're having company.  I usually go for easy, sometimes using the crock-pot.  That's nice in particular because I can have the kitchen cleaned up before company arrives.  If I am scrambling to wash three pots before people arrive I'm even less likely to enjoy myself.  It's not going to be gourmet, but it will probably be pretty good and that's good enough for me. 

7. The List- For a while we kept a list of all the people we wanted to have over at some point.  I am pretty good about scheduling this sort of thing.  Whether I actually feel like it when the time comes is another story, but it usually ends up being a truly enjoyable time.  At least for us, hopefully it is for our guests as well! 

I know so many people who truly have the gift of hospitality.  They do it all well.  They make people feel comfortable.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  I like having company, but it still doesn't come easy to me. But I guess it doesn't really matter how I feel about it.  It's a challenge that I need to work on. 



  1. I really appreciate this post and your honesty on the subject of hospitality. Over the years I have dealt with many of the issues you mention. I want to invite people over but I often procrastinate on setting it up, then I tend to get obsessed with cleaning and cooking so I am already tired when they arrive. I am trying to have a more relaxed attitude and I have made some progress, though not as much as I'd like. I have to remind myself that the Lord wants us to extend hospitality (I Peter 4:9) and we honor Him when we do.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I'm glad to see I'm not the only one. Your point about honoring God is by far the most important reason to do it, despite all our personal hang-ups:)

  3. You are a great hostess! Really! I feel welcomed and love the food and company every time I'm over. I guess I haven't done a good job of reciprocating. For me, it's a matter of first coordinating with housemate(s), which is probably the biggest hassle. Coordinating a good time on two fronts--with people I want over, and housemates. Next, like you mention, cleaning is often exausting, but it's especially tricky dealing with housemate(s) (do I clean up everything, drop hints, or ask her directly to clean?). Finally, I often have insecurities about cooking. Would people even like what I cook? I feel like the few times I've hosted, some dishes have been disasters. My form of cooking is often experimental (let's try this and see how it turns out...). More of an art than a science. I still don't know how long to cook chicken...

  4. Aww, thanks! I cook experimentally most of the time too. There are certainly some that I wouldn't care to share with company:) I think the key is to make something easy, not fancy, and foolproof. So you need an old stand-by, as fun as it might be to cook something new!