I LOVE to host. Seriously. One of my favorite things about moving to D.C. has been getting the opportunity to host so many friends and family in our little home. Sometimes people are coming to visit us specifically, and sometime we just get to play Hotel Smith while people are in town for a conference or vacation and we love both opportunities! I think a lot of the joy of hosting is engrained in who I am and my personality. But part of it comes from knowing we have the opportunity to help people save money and (hopefully) make them feel at home the way others have made us feel when we’ve stayed with them.
When Andrew and I got married, we created a list of core values for our family (we’re nerdy, I know!) and hospitality was one of them. And my understanding of what hospitality looks like has continued to evolve since then.
There are some parts of hospitality that I intuitively enjoy, and other parts that I’ve had to learn and choose to do. I’ll start with what comes easy 🙂
This might be my favorite part! Ok maybe not cleaning the guest bathroom (let’s be honest, Andrew usually does that anyways – thanks babe!), but the rest is so fun. Here are some of my top preparation tips to ensure you are 100% ready for your guests’ arrival:
- The Cleaning
This probably seems pretty obvious but it’s so key. Even if you’re not a naturally clean person, remember that this can be vital to some peoples’ ability to relax. And don’t just make sure things are picked up: make sure you’ve washed the guests’ sheets/towels and dusted because you never know what allergies people have. You can even take a page out of Mary Eddy’s playbook and fold the edge of the toilet paper like a hotel would!
- The Groceries
Depending on how long your visitors are staying with you, make sure you’re stocked up on food. And don’t assume that just because you like something, they will too. Andrew and I both have a lot of allergies and I can’t explain to you the relief we feel when someone takes the time to ask us if we have allergies and then prepares meals accordingly. We HATE to be a burden on people but when they do it without asking, it makes us feel incredibly valued. And you never know what allergies/food preferences/diets people have – so make sure you get your guests’ favorite snacks and anticipate their needs (Will they need breakfast each day? Are they planning to eat dinner with you? Do you have enough K-cups to supply their coffee addiction?). Bonus: chocolates or mints on the pillow because who doesn’t love that?!
- The Finishing Touches
How would you feel if you walked into a bedroom that looks like it was made for you? Clean, stocked, and ready to go? Pretty welcome, right? Try and anticipate your guests’ every need. We keep travel sized everything (face cleanser, shampoo conditioner, toothpaste, etc.) in our guest bathroom along with extra toilet paper, an extra iPhone charger, plenty of clean towels, and tissues just in case! And something I learned from my sister-in-law was writing a note to leave on your guest bed. It only takes 5 minutes but goes a long way in making your guest feel welcome and special. We also keep a guest book for all of our visitors so we like to put that in the guest bedroom as well so they don’t forget to sign it!
When your anticipated guest finally arrives, make sure they know where everything is. Give them access to the thermostat and wifi to ensure their maximum comfortability, and make sure they know where the coffee mugs are in case they wake up before you! Give your guest a tour of your home and show them where everything they might need is. For us in our urban apartment that can include directions to the metro, a metro card, notifying our apartment concierge that our guest may need building access, showing them the apartment gym, etc. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and try and think through what are the things you’ve ever wondered/needed while staying at someone else’s house!
So, to me, all of that is super fun. I recognize that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and also that Andrew and I are in a stage of life (aka no kids!) where we have more time on our hands to add all of those finishing touches. But I hope you will take away 1 or 2 things that you can apply to your next visit from someone you love.
But here’s the part that I’m trying to work on for 2018: being hospitable in the ways that AREN’T convenient and enjoyable to me. We’ve loved every visit from friends/family that we’ve had, but that doesn’t always mean they’ve gone according to plan. Sometimes people have stayed longer than we expected, broken something of ours, or the visit has expended more resources (whether that’s time, finances, or energy) than we expected. In those moments, I’m sometimes tempted to get annoyed because the hospitality has extended past my comfort zone. But the Lord is teaching me that hospitality is not about me, or the chocolate on the pillow, or the allergy-friendly food in the fridge. It’s about loving people where they are and how they need.
It reminds me of the passage in Luke 6 where Jesus says “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same…..But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great…” I’m not saying our guests are our enemies (or even close!), but I think the same concept applies. If you do what comes easy and naturally to you, that’s great, but anyone can do that. However, when you love beyond what’s convenient, that’s where the Holy Spirit shines through you and God gets the glory.
So will you join me in showing hospitality in a way that challenges you this year? Let me know what you think and also if you have any favorite hospitality tips and tricks to share!
1 Peter 4:9 – “Show hospitality to one another without complaint.”