Hosting + Hospitality | a guest post

I'm so excited for my dear friend Victoria Strader to be sharing her heart on hosting today!  As the holiday season approaches I wanted an opportunity to encourage you in this area.  The Lord has been doing a work in my heart over this idea of loving people in our home and I can't wait to share more of my own thoughts soon.  But for now, enjoy reading some of Victoria's thoughts and I hope that you walk away encouraged!

Let me begin with saying that I get it, there are a million reasons for you not to open your home. Feeling like you don't have your house how you'd like it to be seen, or think its too much with your toddler who's in a hard stage, or whatever. There is every excuse not to, but the reward is so much sweeter than the risk. When my husband and I got married five years ago, we both loved people and getting together, but I had never cooked outside of a lean cuisine and we had multiple empty rooms in our newlywed abode. This didn't feel like the perfect recipe (pun intended!) for entertaining.

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But then we pressed in. I bought The Pioneer Woman cookbook and I let her well written instructions and photos teach me how to cook. We invited guests over for dinner, and developed a huge passion for letting our home become a sweet gathering place. I don't think it happened overnight, but with every person that came over, every party we hosted, our home became a place that was known for having an open door. When we moved last year from our first home I cried so many tears remembering the celebrations and hardships that were celebrated and mourned together in our home.

I grew up in a household where people didn't come over, and a knock on the door was an alarming reason to hide. This sounds drastic, but it's true. The gathering spaces in our house were pass through areas. So for me as a young newlywed, the value in having a home that could be really lived in was great. I saw how vital it was for my own physical, mental, and spiritual health to have a welcoming safe place as my home, and extending that to others became the joy of my heart. It isn't always wise to be "yes" people for all things, but I do think that it's been extra fun for us to be the "yes" people when it comes to opening our home. Friends always know that our door is open and that we love hosting. I learned that people don't care if it's perfect, and that we never regret opening our doors. I love living in a home where people know to grab a blanket out of the basket and curl up on the couch. I love living in a home where people know they can express their hurts and happies and dreams.

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Seeking a heart for hospitality has taught me a few practical tips along the way too:

  1. Don't shy away from paper goods. I've served my fair share of dinners on fine china (it's a celebrated art in my opinion! so special!) but there is no shame in putting out the plastic and letting it all go in the trash. I have napkins and silverware in a little basket that has divided sections and I always have a big stack of plastic plates in the pantry. When impromptu gatherings take place, it's always so nice to have this handy to pull out. 
  2. I would highly recommend having a go to outfit for when you host company for dinner. For me, it's dark wash skinny jeans and a flowy blouse that will keep me covered leaning down to the oven, reaching up for dishes, etc. The last thing you want to do before hosting is agonize over what you're going to be wearing. I also always make sure to get myself dressed several hours before hosting a party or large event. The last thing you want is to be trying to finish your hair when the doorbell rings. 
  3. There is no shame in serving all your guests the same thing. If you have a go to meal that you know is good, serve it! 
  4. On the opposite hand, the worst that can happen is you'll mess up one meal and call to order pizza last minute. No shame in your game! A huge part of hosting people in your home is opening up the fact that you are a real person. Trying to let people into a perfect world isn't realistic, and should never be your goal. Always be willing to meet people as you are! 

I hope that this holiday season y'all will bake cookies, warm up some cider, and gather friends to wrap gifts or to watch a Christmas movie. Some of the fondest memories of my life are now from opening our home, incredibly sweet and priceless times. Especially now that in the past few years I've become a mama, I realize how much I desire for my children to grow up in a place where friends are welcome. It's such a beautiful picture of how The Lord welcomes us in just as we are, and I hope and pray that's something that I can communicate to those who walk through our doors. 

Are you planning on hosting over the holiday season? My goal this week is to find a few days and set them aside to have someone over for tea or coffee.  I want to take some of Victoria's tips to heart and open my home to love well!