Friday, October 19, 2007

Making Hospitality Easier

The mere idea of "hospitality" can make us feel overwhelmed, but it doesn't have to be that way. A little bit of planning and a flexible, laid-back attitude makes entertaining a LOT more fun.

Select and cook meals that are meals geared towards groups.
One mistake I made the first few years of our marriage, when having guests over, was that I tried to cook with each individual in mind (thinking "two pork chops per adult, one pork chop per child" or whatever).

One thing I learned when we lived in China was to make several different dishes and cook for the group. For example, in American-meal terms, this might look like a chicken casserole, with garlic green beans, a salad with optional dressings and a french bread loaf. (For some of you, this all may be obvious, but for me this was insightful.) Chinese meals are designed in such a way that if someone eats more than others, it's no big deal. If an unexpected friend drops by and you want them to join you, it's no problem. But if we have pre-proportioned out how many chicken fillets we'll need for the night, then this sort of openness towards variances in a get-together is much more difficult. So instead of thinking "individual portions", I now think in terms of "group cooking" when hosting friends in our home.

PLANNING: Prepare in advance by compiling a couple of tried-and-true menus for hosting guests.
It can be overwhelming to just "come up" with an appetizing meal on the spur of the moment, particularly when that might involve several different "courses" and trying to think of something appealing to kids AND adults, and something that will feed an entire group without breaking the bank. Something that helps is to compile a list of several stress-free meals that are good, dependable meals to serve to guests. (It's not usually a good idea to try brand new recipes out on a night when you're having guests!) Here are a few ideas you might not have come across:

  • Mom's No-Peek Chicken: Utterly delicious and easy group meal; this was my favorite meal growing up, and it's now a family favorite around here.
  • Cheesy Chicken Soup: Another great main dish, it's great for cold Fall and Winter nights. Serve with lots of bread!
  • Avocado Dressing: VERY delicious salad dressing... toss with a large bowl of salad
  • Gooey Bar: A wonderfully tasty dessert
If you plan out things in advance and have a few well-tested recipes, having friends over won't be near as big a burden, and you'll be able to enjoy the experience much more.

FLEXIBILITY: Don't put the pressure on yourself to have everything perfect.
No one (except maybe the White House) actually has a perfect home, 100% clean and tidy at every moment with flawless meals served in pristine and completely matching dishes. It's OK. Don't strive for perfection- it's unattainable. Instead, focus your energy on having a pleasant attitude and a warm, comfortable spirit in your home. THAT is what your guests will remember most of all... "I really felt welcome and at ease in their home tonight."

It can be fun to serve a delicious meal and have people "ooh" and "aah" over a scrumptious dessert, but what is much more rewarding is to have had another family or several families over and have actually enjoyed the evening. If you can do both, GREAT. But if one has to go, skip the difficult, laborious dessert and enjoy the night with your friends. It's not worth it to stress yourself out over a meal but then not be able to relax. Give yourself the "freedom" to use mis-matched serving bowls, or to have a basic side-dish that's not "gourmet"... enjoy the nights when you have guests over, and you'll begin to find that you're much more willing to extend hospitality more frequently.

One of the hallmarks of the early church was that they shared meals, and they often spent time in each other's homes (see Acts 2 & beyond). Fellowship is a big part of being part of the Body of Christ... and opening up our homes to others enables us to open up our lives to them as well. So for my part, I don't want to stress myself out when trying to live out this aspect of Body life as a believer. I want to enjoy my role as a hostess in our home, and these things help me to have people over to our home with much less stress and much GREATER joy.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you to live out the scriptural ideas of being hospitable and serving others with joy.


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...