I am currently reading the book Just Open the door (affiliate link) by Jen Schmidt. This book talks about hospitality and opening your door to friends and family. Jen shares many examples of how inviting friends over has changed her life.
But gathering around the table is something that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. Opening our door to others seems to have become a lost art. In this digital age, we often miss out on connecting with the people around us. A text or social media post is just not the same as an in-person conversation with a friend. Here are some ways reconnect with others and discover the joy of sharing a meal together, all while maintaining your sanity.
(Please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you purchase something through a link. It will not change your cost. For more information, check out my disclosures page.)
So what is hospitality?
The one thing about Just Open the door that really blew me away was how Jen defines hospitality. She is quick to point out that hospitality is NOT entertaining. She describes hospitality as focusing on the guests and making them feel welcome, no matter the shape of your home. Entertaining, on the other hand, puts the focus on you as the hostess and is about showing off your home.
My husband’s grandmother, Nanny, was the queen of demonstrating hospitality to others. She always opened her door to anyone, and there was always food. Lots of food. She celebrated everyone’s birthday by cooking a meal in her small home. They lived in a mill house that was barely 1200 square feet. Nanny regularly had upwards of 12 people in her home for a meal. We squeezed around the table, around the bar, and she and Pawpaw ate on bar stools on the washer and dryer! That is true hospitality no matter your situation.
Nanny even cooked a birthday supper for those of us that married into the family! We celebrated Easter and Christmas, birthdays, and holidays in her simple home with simple meals prepared with love. Many of the meals were served on paper plates because she didn’t even have a dishwasher. But we all have such fond memories of being gathered in her kitchen and celebrating.
Where can you show hospitality?
The author goes on the describe how hospitality can be shown anywhere, from your own home, to a friend’s apartment, to a football game. Hospitality isn’t about having a perfect home and a perfectly set table. It is about a crock-pot meal eaten with friends (old or new) on paper plates just enjoying time together. Talk about convicting! She could have written the book just for me! I know I’ve stressed over every little detail when hosting get-togethers. It’s time to change that.
Ways to make “opening the door” a little easier
So I wanted to think about ways to make getting together easier. One way I’ve found to make cooking easier is to make a one-pot meal. And while I LOVE my slow cooker, sometimes I want something different. Why not try a sheet pan supper? A sheet pan supper can be prepped ahead, then when its time to cook, you throw everything on a pan and then put it in the oven. Serve with a loaf of bread and you have an easy meal and not much clean up.
Another easy meal is a taco bar. You provide the meat and let each guest bring a topping (cheese, salsa, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, etc.) Everyone gets to customize their tacos so each person should enjoy their meal.
It is also totally fine to use paper plates and cups. Having a drawer or cabinet or even a plastic tote full of paper products can make a spur of the moment gathering actually happen. If you do prefer china, dollar stores usually have a nice selection of dishes. Almost everything you see in the picture above came from the dollar store!
Not ready to host a full meal? Try an outdoor party.
Or, lets say you want to have people over, but don’t want to do a full meal. Try a build-your-own ice cream sundae bar. My sister did this for my Mom and I for Mother’s Day and it was awesome! There really isn’t much prep involved in this type of get together. If you do it in the middle of the afternoon, no one is expecting a meal. This would be great for a neighborhood social. Purchase ice cream and toppings, disposable bowls and spoons, and some bottled water and you have the makings of a great block party that can be served in the cul-de-sac or on your front lawn.
An outdoor movie night would also be fun for adults and kids alike. You can tie up a sheet to use as a backdrop or use a garage door and play a movie outside on a projector. Serve popcorn and sodas and possibly a sweet treat and you have a fun evening without too much stress.
Another simple idea would be to pick up some coffee and muffins on the way to that early morning ball practice. You can get to know the other parents while the kids are practicing their chosen sport. This type of hospitality doesn’t even require you to clean your house! You can create community and be hospitable wherever you are!
Want more info on hospitality?
If you have ever wanted to invite people over, but have no idea where to start, I highly encourage you to read Jen’s book. It truly will open your eyes to how hospitality can change your life and your generation.
For more information on hosting, check out my post on How to Host a Stress Free Thanksgiving. While the post is geared toward hosting Thanksgiving Dinner, there are lots of applicable tips to hosting any get-together.
For more information on Jen, check out her blog at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.