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I asked my husband years ago now what he would like for us to be involved in as a family - what we could do together. His quick response was that he would like us to invite people to our home - he wanted us to be hospitable on a regular basis. I love having people over so this was a win-win for us!
The kids didn't always like the preparatory time - I would drive them pretty hard about cleaning up etc. Finally we got a system of cleaning that basically allowed us to have a tidy house in 15 minutes, so we were all a lot less stressed!
My tips about hospitality are not anything earth shattering or new. We are just regular people with a regular income. We have had masses of people over all at the same time, and we have had just one person on a regular basis who has become like family to us all.
Tip #1 - Take the plunge and invite someone over! People love to be invited - it shows that you were thinking of them, and that you want to spend time with them.
Tip #2 - Don't be afraid to have a large family over. We consider ourselves an average sized family due to the circles we run in, but for most people a family of 8 is big! People are intimidated to think of having us over with "all those kids." Most people think that all children are unruly and out of control - this is not true! Plus as a mom of a larger family, I am quick to ask what I can bring to help with the meal.
Tip #3 - Remember there are more ways to entertain in your home than to have a meal. You can invite people over to play games - with everyone bringing a snack to share, invite people over for dessert and coffee, invite people to a potluck.
Tip #4 - Don't be afraid of your house not being perfect. Believe me a Mom can relax a bit if the home they are going to doesn't look like a magazine!
Tip #5 - Don't wait until your children are older to start practicing hospitality. For my kids, it is as natural as breathing to have people over and they pursue it themselves every week! Sarah is always making sure people have been asked over on Sundays. And the girls have become the regular hosts of game night. As I write this post there are 12 young people carving pumpkins at our table in the kitchen. They are laughing and having a wonderful time, as they enjoy spending time together. There is a bonfire burning outside as well, and they will end up out there soon, drinking coffee, hot chocolate and hot cider and spend hours talking away. They are tying the strings of friendship and camaraderie from heart to heart. I hope that in the years to come they will raise their families together, still encouraging each other on!
I am blessed as I see my children walking this path. The other day Lindsay and I saw a sign at a store that said "Enter as Strangers, Leave as Friends." She said "That pretty much describes our house!" That made me a happy Mama!
Give hospitality a try - and if you get the occasional grumpy person, chalk it up to a fluke and invite someone else the next week! You'll be glad you did!