It has been a while since I shared my first post about hospitality. One thing I didn’t discuss on this topic is creating a house that is inviting. But just because you enjoy having people over doesn’t mean that people will naturally just show up.
You have to first create a home that people will want to spend time in (and of course, you have to invite people too, but that’s a topic for another day!)
How do you create a home that people will want to spend time in? While your technique will vary slightly depending on who you want to have over (e.g. your husband’s military buddies, your children’s friends, coworkers, the pastor and his wife, all the neighborhood kids), there are a few steps you’ll always want to take. Here are seven of them.
1. Keep Your Schedule Open
Get-togethers can’t always be scheduled months in advance. Sometimes they just happen. The game is on this afternoon, so your husband calls up a few friends to see what they are doing. Your kids are playing outside when they see the neighborhood kids and invite them over to play.
You’re hanging out with friends at church and you invite them home for dinner. You will never have the hang-out house if you are never home. Your schedule doesn’t need to be jam-packed. Leave plenty of room for real life and for people.
2. Make Friends
If you want to have people over, you have to get to know them first. The fact that we were a part of the military life for so long led to us always having an open door policy. Some of our best memories are of holidays spent with my husband’s Soldiers, church friends and family, and anyone else who showed up.
Don’t be a hermit and get out there and meet people. There are days I could just sit on my couch, talk to all my online friends and never leave the house. However, remember the scriptures that say to surround yourself with like-minded believers? Making friends is wonderful and priceless.
Get to know people in church, classical conversations, or other various places that you interact on a regular basis. Who do you know who you could intentionally start befriending today?
3. Be Brave
Okay, you’ve got friends, you’ve got time and now comes the hard part: you have to be brave enough to invite people over! Stop making excuses about your home and stop procrastinating. Most people would be absolutely flattered by the invitation.
Get your courage up and just ask! Have a specific date and time when you do ask. We all know that “sometime” usually amounts to never.
4. Set Aside Your Pride
Let me fill you in on a secret. Those friends you invited over? They aren’t there to see your house. They are there to see YOU. Who cares if your house is tiny, your furniture isn’t new, or your baseboards are dirty (or is that just our house?).
That kind of stuff only matters if you allow it to matter. Don’t apologize or make excuses. Make the most of what you have and let that be enough. Worry less about looking good and more about making your guests comfortable and everyone will have a great time.
My friend Joneal discussed this when I was invited to Louisiana for a weekend with the Duck Dynasty crew. Her book “Heartfelt: A Woman’s Guide to Creating Meaningful Friendships” discusses not getting weighed down by what you don’t have, and being hospitable in what you DO have
5. Lose the “Our House, Our Rules” Mindset
I’ve seen this mindset and, while I kind of get it, I really don’t get it. So what if people are under your roof. If you want people to visit, you need to accept them as they are and make them feel comfortable.
Drop the expectations that they must fit your standards of what an ideal guest should look like. They may smoke or have tattoos or color their hair various colors throughout the week. Who cares? If Jesus ate with sinners, I’m pretty sure you can, too. Or does the Bible say to love only those people who look and act like you do?
The exception to this in my mind is disruptive children. If you have children in your home visiting, then you will need to set some ground rules for both the children and the parent(s). However, if you have dinner guests and they aren’t where you are on your walk with the Lord, you need to lose the mindset that everyone has to be like-minded.
While the Bible does tell us to find like-minded relationships, we are also encouraged to be hospitable. We have to find a middle ground to further the kingdom.
6. Provide Entertainment
Now that you have guests coming over, what do you DO with them? Honestly, what you do doesn’t really matter as long as you have something to do. Watch football, go swimming, play Wii, bake cookies, chat over coffee, play board games, or just visit. Just have something planned.
7. Feed Them
And lastly, my favorite step is to feed them. This is especially important if your visitors are of the teenage boy or bachelor male variety! It doesn’t matter if you’re a trained chef or a boxed meal chef, order a pizza, put meat on the grill, open a bag of chips and a can of chip dip, or make a 5-course meal. Just feed them! Trust me
There are a lot of people in the world looking for a friendship and to spend time together in a warm and loving place where they can feel at home. You can provide that place and it might just mean more to the other person then you’ll ever know.
Do you have a hang-out house? What tips do YOU have for making it that way?