The arrival of summer for many can mean a time of vacations and out-of-town visitors. Relatives may come stay for a few days or old friends might be in town. This practice of hospitality isn’t a new one, but many of us dread having to host anyone. We often let our fear of not looking perfect or put together keep us from inviting people over at all.
However, the point of hosting isn’t so we can get a second opinion on the curtains. It’s not so we can get stressed and worried about how good our food is, how well-behaved our kids are, or how sparkling the toilet bowl is. Hospitality is about building relationships. Don’t let it turn you into a huge, scrubbing bubbles monster dressed in rubber gloves and insecurities. Let hospitality look like Jesus, giving of Himself to others.
Looking to spruce up the house for friends and relatives? Here are 5 practical tips to get you started. How do you get your house ready for hosting without letting perfection take over?
1). Lighting & Smell – Experts say the things people notice the most entering a home are lighting and smell. So if your house smells musty or like a toddler’s diapers, you could change that by lighting some scented candles (away from said toddler, of course), which will also add some extra light. You could also plug in some air fresheners, spray some Febreeze, or simply open a window to get some fresh air and natural light inside!
2). Do a quick pick up. I like to tell myself I’ll just pick up 20 things (or 30 or 10, your call) and put them back in their place. This becomes a kind of challenge to me. Grabbed that hair brush off the counter and put it back in the drawer? One point to me. Threw out that 6 month old catalogue from the coffee table? Item number two. Simply putting things back where they belong improves a room’s appearance without having to go through a massive deep cleaning.
3). Simple Cleaning – If you have guests who will be staying a few nights as well, it’s worth doing a quick clean of the toilet and shower. This can be done with a cleaning product, or with baking soda and dish soap. You can use a cup to wet down the tub and shower walls, then sprinkle baking soda along the surfaces, and scrub with a loofah lathered in dish detergent. Baking soda is a great and cheap way to clean easily stained surfaces.
4). Offer some food (check for allergies!). Eating a meal together is one of the classic symbols of hospitality. Food can unite people as you satisfy one of your basic needs while fellowshipping. Even if it’s just asking someone if they’d like a glass of water, offering food shows a desire for that person to feel safe and cared for in your home. There’s no need to cook a fancy meal—just offer to share with them whatever you have.
5). Be flexible! Something won’t play out exactly how you imagined it, and that’s fine. It means you are admitting to being a normal human who doesn’t always have it together. Being willing to go with the flow will help you bounce back and laugh about it when you accidentally burn a meal or a child comes wandering out without any pants on. Sometimes trying to be hospitable can make us uptight or easily stressed—practice letting it go and embracing whatever happens!
Jesus didn’t usually have the most conventional hosts. He didn’t eat with kings and priests. He fellowshipped with the unwanted and the disliked. He ate with money-launderers and women, arrogant religious leaders and fishermen. He embraced people—dirty houses, lives, and all. He didn’t require a home to be perfect before He entered. It had only to be willing. We don’t need spotless furniture or well-behaved children to be welcoming hosts. We don’t even need to have a house, because hospitality isn’t just for those entertaining overnight guests. Rather, it is a mindset of welcoming others into your space. We don’t need to have it all together. We need only be willing.