There was a time when I was younger that taking the time out for the joy of hospitality happened often. I had a single child at home (not being able to have any further children) and I made it a regular occurrence to have many people “grace” our table particularly for this reason. I would even have people stay overnight who were from other regions. At one time I had 22 people over and a family of ten staying in “ground level”sleeping arrangements. They were busy years but I enjoyed the throng of people that made their way to our humble dwelling and what I learned along the way.
Living in the present
With times up until now life has gotten slower because of a medical condition with my husband – but that has stabilized. I am now working towards having more people to come and visit. I have even got my visitors book out ready after 5 years of blank pages. Already my mum and dad have traveled over 22 hours by car and caravan to be the first on our list of visitors. A lady around the corner I met through Facebook came over for a cuppa and she discovered she knew of my husband 30 years ago. Small world really.
I notice that when people pick up the visitors book they go through what other people have written. I let small children run amok and there are their illustrations from older and younger children. We have been here a little over 2 months – but have had people call in often. Our house number is 23 (I’m not into astrology particularly – but two people that are – commented “It will be a revolving door for visitors” and the other “you will be busy with having people come to your house”. Already also a new visitor says she will help me cook when I have people over. Now that was funny – because I hadn’t mentioned that I was having people over!
Being anxious rather than joyful
I re-call the first time I cooked for visitors with a smile really. Being so anxious that they enjoyed the food that I cooked meant I could hardly eat myself. I remember one fellow knocked back dessert and I felt perturbed until he explained he was watching his weight and didn’t eat dessert (neither did we often anyway!)
Time went by and I finally got the hang of it. Repetition and learning how to cook well. I would have said that we all learn and with me cooking has got better and easier. I use recipes as a guide but often can do it by “hand or feel”. I feel joy in what I prepare and look forward to serving it to others.
Taking into account what is going on in our world
With so much happening in our world with a negative slant – being hospitable is something we can do “in our small corner”. This is something we can do in a small or large way in our own local “scene”.
Our society is such that often we have more than others – food or drink being one of them. The quote “If you are more fortunate than others, it’s better to build a longer table than a taller fence.” is apt. Even if you invite someone over for a cuppa or even a light lunch in a wee small patch of time you are working towards good. God blesses hospitality. I am reminded of the two fish and five loaves of bread and how it was used to feed many. Even the crumbs (left-overs) were not wasted.
Ways to incorporate hospitality
Hospitality is not just amusement – but can work towards an occasion of great friendship and bonding.
There are way to incorporate hospitality:
- If this is a new thing for you – ask advice of those who you see have a hospitable nature and are successfully having people over. People you have had the experience of dining with.
- Have a plan – but make it simple and easy.
- Incorporate dishes pre-prepared if possible that don’t take you away from your guests or at least minimal.
- Delegate to special friends that come along if you are having more than about 7 or 8 people
- Have activities for children – but also have an adult overseeing and swapping over so there is equal “child time-out” for the adult. Crafts of many varieties can be organized and even outside games where adults are included also.
- Up your organizing skills ie learn how to make things flow when or if there are any hiccups.
- Do your utmost to have your home up-to-date with cleaning. It makes you and your guests both feel better.
- Don’t have new recipes for your guests. Try beforehand for success. Here on Esme Salon you are sure to have many choices to help. Tried and true ones to try — do shortcut your time.
- Make sure you are not too busy to take time out to speak to your guests in real terms. Small talk is a good start and sometimes group discussion is interesting and helpful on many topics. Make it friendly and you are on the right track.
- Consider having a pot luck lunch if you have bigger numbers to save time. Heating up maybe necessary with some – but slow cookers are a boon when your oven maybe full. They can be switched on to keep the heat on low at any power point. I have done this with when I cooked a roast for someone near Christmas. Putting a tea towel spread under the lid – helps stop too much moisture if that is an issue. We had to travel 45 minutes by car to get there – but the ceramic pot held the heat in wonderfully well.
- Having everyone serve themselves in smorgasbord fashion is by far the easiest. Don’t make things too difficult and guests seem to enjoy this more.
- Have a separate table if possible for drinks and snacks. Have someone delegated to do this if you have a number of people
- If you have guests with preferences or allergies – consider a little label beside each dish. ie for Gluten free or Vegan, etc
- Whatever you do – don’t be anxious. Start small with only 1 or 2 guests before embarking on a bigger under-taking. If you are relaxed – so will your guests be.
- Allow a minimum of half an hour before the time you have asked your guests to come. This gives them time to mingle and relax into your setting.
- Have accessories organized. Serving spoons, plates, cutlery, serviettes, etc.
- Don’t always think inside the square. Make things different if you want. We invited people over for breakfast once. It was delightful!
- Most of all enjoy! Have joy in being hospitable. This I find is an attitude and it is good for your health!
So you can see I’m planning to be rather busy sharing some hospitality – I’m hoping that you are inspired to do the same.