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A few weekends ago, my husband and I got to practice hospitality to a couple of complete strangers. Our church was having a weekend Church Renewal Event and guest speakers and small group leaders were coming from 10 different states to lead our congregation in a weekend of prayer, conversations, and lots of eating. Since we now have an empty basement with two bedrooms, we were asked to host two different couples for the weekend.
Of course we said yes, but it mentally sent me into a panic with thoughts of my house isn’t pretty enough yet, or the basement hasn’t been remodeled yet, and what could we accomplished before our guests even arrive to make the house look fabulous!
This was entirely the wrong thoughts, but I have the excuse of being a Professional Interior Designer in my defense. My home is my showcase and my portfolio, and let’s be honest, no one really cares about that part as much as I ever will. So I took a deep breath and reminded myself that hospitality is so much more about the heart than the actual home.
After working on the house and cleaning for days (aka wearing myself out) I came up with a list of 10 things we should all stop doing for our house guests
10 Things to Stop Doing for Your House Guests
1. Stop thinking that your house has to be perfect before inviting guests over.
Hospitality is NOT about your house or the food you serve, but about connecting with family and friends and fellowship. You need to realize that for most of us, none of our houses are perfect with the perfect furnishings and the perfect accessories and with no clutter. That is a fantasy the magazines want us to believe.
Hospitality is about people and shared moments, not how the table is set, or the decorations.
2. Stop thinking you need to impress your guests.
Again, your guests are coming to spend time with you and if they are true friends and loved family members, then they don’t need impressing with the latest gadget or the prettiest designer fabrics.
Stop trying to impress your guests with your home style and furnishings. They will remember the fellowship and kindness more than your house.
3. Stop trying so hard.
Do what you need to do for visiting guests like cleaning the house, clearing the extra clutter, washing the bedding, and putting out the fresh towels. Most of the time your guests won’t know the difference in the extra things you think you need to do like repairing and repainting the stairwell. (Yes I’m guilty of that one)
4. Stop thinking you need to plan elaborate meals.
For the weekend of our church event, we were required to serve them breakfast each morning. I planned a full course breakfast for each morning but in the end decided that time would only allow for me to make two much smaller meals. For the first morning, I made Breakfast Sliders with ham and eggs from a recipe I found on Pinterest. It took less than 30 minutes to make and they were a hit! I got requests for the recipe and when I served the leftovers again the next morning – along with cinnamon rolls – my guests went immediately for the sliders. We had great conversation over sliders and hot coffee and no one knew that I had planned something more.
5. Stop over-cleaning your house.
Okay – this one may throw some of you but let me explain.
You do need to clean the house. A clean house for guests is very important! But don’t waste extra time cleaning out the master bedroom closet when no one is going to go in there except you. Spend your cleaning time and efforts on the common spaces of the house and the rooms they will be staying in. If they are not going to see an area, just shut the door and concentrate on the areas they will see.
Besides making sure you have a clean house, make sure it smells nice too. Your house should smell fresh but not overpowering. A few small air fresheners will do the trick. I have also learned that if you will put those fabulous Downy Upstoppables pellets in a small mason jar it not only freshens up a room but looks decorative as well tied with a little raffia.
6. Stop shopping for new accessories and decor before they arrive.
I am so guilty of having lists of things I want or need for each room and then when company is coming go into a panic trying to figure out how to buy it all at once. This gets you into trouble on two different levels. If you buy accessories or decor items just for the sake of buying it now, you end up with things you don’t really like or need in the long run. Second, if you don’t have the funds available at the time, you end up running up credit charges. Both of these things lead to frustration and decor envy with ideas of the perfect rooms.
Instead, use what you have. Move a lamp from the Master Bedroom to the Guest Bedroom for the weekend. Move accessories you already have to the guest spaces. You can even change art around to refresh a room.
Your guests just really need a comfortable place to sleep, a reading lamp, a night light, a place to drop lose change or rings, an extra blanket if needed and a bottle of water for the bedside.
7. Stop stressing over the small things.
Did you forget to buy decaf coffee? Are you afraid that your guests will notice where the puppy chewed the end of the chair cushion? Those things are just a part of life, move on and enjoy the visit.
8. Stop losing sleep worrying about what you haven’t finished on your to-do list.
I am a list maker. I make lists for shopping, house cleaning, and most definitely for home repairs and maintenance. If you allow yourself to worry about what you haven’t gotten done on your house yet, it will drive you crazy and cause you to lose sleep. And a tired hostess is not a fun hostess.
The best way to handle your nagging to do list about your house, is to embrace it and explain to your guests that life is a work in progress.
9. Stop apologizing for what you feel your home is lacking or any work that is going on.
I am very guilty of this part. Especially in the last year after the tree fell on our house and we spent over six months in construction and repairs. I was constantly trying to explain the mess or lack of progress or over talk the “future” plans to hopefully distract anyone from the mess, chaos, and unfinished projects.
Last year I had a close friend who was in the process of building a new home and had to move in before everything was done. Instead of waiting to invite our coffee group over for breakfast until it was all done, she graciously invited us to her unfinished house complete with sawdust and unpainted walls. We still had a fabulous time!
Not one of us really cared about what was not done or the fact that some of the walls were unpainted or even just studs. We loved hearing about her plans for what it would look like and just enjoyed spending time together in a new home.
Don’t apologize for making progress in your home plans, even if it takes baby steps to get there. People will appreciate the honestly and enthusiasm for your home improvements more.
10. Stop working and sit down to chat and enjoy time spent with your guests.
This is an important one. Stop working, cleaning, cooking, dusting, whatever you are doing, while your guests are there. They will long remember the conversations you had over how much you worked to make sure the dishes were done quickly or the counters were cleared and cleaned as quickly as possible. To be honest, you won’t either after they are gone.
True hospitality comes from the heart, not just how perfect you think your house needs to be. Remember that and just enjoy the company.
“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9