Over the years, we have been blessed both to host a number of guests in our home and to be guests in the homes of many families across the country. The Lord has taught me so much about hospitality through these experiences- what a ministry it can be to open your home and invite people in- maybe even people you don’t know well! I’m fully aware, however, of how intimidating hospitality can be when you first start. Here’s my top 4 tips for practicing hospitality with overnight guests:
Straighten up your home. You don’t have to deep clean, but you will be much more confident as the keeper of your home if you feel it is nice and presentable! Do the dishes, clean the countertops, make the beds or couches where your guests will be staying. Give the bathrooms a once-over and light a candle or two. Free yourself up to focus on the joy of your guests- not the mess you are trying to hide or make excuses for! But at the same time, have grace with yourself- nobody expects perfection.
Know your guests’ itinerary and be prepared. Will they arrive by dinner time, and likely be hungry? Or perhaps only be around for breakfasts? Do they have free time that you may be expected to fill, or will they be busy? Having a good idea of what your guest’s stay will entail will help you in your preparation. Make a list of meals you’ll be providing and shop accordingly- maybe even ask for some favorite foods or recipes! If there will be down time, brainstorm some activities that could be fun. If your guests will arrive home very late or need to leave very early, prepare for that as well- perhaps set out breakfast the night before, or make sure to leave extra blankets and pillows out.
Think like your guests. Are they unfamiliar with where you live? Write out helpful directions for them, perhaps with some good local places to stop to eat or even get gasoline. Be familiar with the local transportation that may be helpful to them. Lucky enough to have a guest room/bathroom? Use it a few times before your guests arrive and make sure that it fits your needs. Is there an alarm clock, extra pillows, towels? Are the shades dark enough? Do you have an extra phone charger you can put in the room for them? Every little thought counts! Also, make yourself aware of any special needs- dietary preferences, allergies, etc.
Cook one thing ahead. This may seem silly, but crossing something off your list will help you feel more at ease! Whether it’s putting dinner in the slow cooker or making a batch of cookies or muffins to serve, accomplishing something ahead of time will give you an extra boost of confidence and show your guests that you’ve been thinking of them. Also, think about setting up a coffee/tea station in your kitchen where your guests can help themselves to a beverage- or, if it’s summertime, setting out a icy pitcher of water or lemonade with fresh fruit or herbs.
What’s always on your to-do list when you have company? Any tips to share?