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Practicing Hospitality At Home [6 Easy Tips]

Discussing the art of practicing hospitality at home and sharing 6 easy tips for creating a nice setting for your guests.

a blueberry tart for practicing hospitality


Hospitality. Not a word we often use in everyday language when referring to guests in our homes, is it? Yet it directly refers to the generosity and treatment of visitors. Growing up, I never heard this term nor had much guests in our homes to see it in action. Hearing the word I think of Southern hospitality and can only guess what that entails. What does it mean to really welcome someone or several someones into our spaces?

The first time I had a dinner party, it was years ago when I was a young mom. Just starting out  I remember thinking that I needed to serve gourmet food and have a beautiful home. More than this I thought it needed to be spotless. Our new friends couldn’t see any dirty dishes in my sink, oh no. I made sure everything was set up and as the evening progressed, I realized I didn’t have a single bit of enjoyment that entire evening. It was nerve wracking trying to make everything perfect. But even worse, I wasn’t being hospitable. I was being a perfectionist. Someone who was putting more emphasis into how things looked, rather than how they felt to my guests.

It took me a couple of years and a lot of practice welcoming guests into my home before I felt like I really understood true hospitality. One thing that goes a long way is to practice hospitality with close friends or small groups anytime you can. 

The thing about hospitality to remember is, that regardless of the stage of life you are in, being a good host is never about having a perfect house but about cultivating a heart of hospitality. Although there are so many creative ways to be hospitable an easy way to begin is to start with a cup of tea, a listening ear and a cheerful heart. 

Before you begin inviting others over here are a few things to consider or adopt as a means to become more hospitable.

Create Your Go-To Moves

The fun part about this is that you can make it completely a unique experience as your own personal go-to move for receiving people in your home.

  • A couple I know keeps a bottle of bubbly in the fridge at all times in case they should have any sort of impromptu guests or occasion in their home. She offers it anytime company is over.
  • Setting out a teapot with a particular cookie you make whenever a guest stops by. Shows a sense of care for the other person.
  • I know a lady who makes 7-up spongecakes in bulk and freezes them. That way she always has a nice cake to offer anyone who comes to her home.
  • Another family always makes extra at dinner and sets a place at their table, just in case anyone should stop by. Maybe something a bit extreme if you don’t usually find yourself with guests coming by unannounced. But for them, they want whoever should stop by to not feel like they weren’t welcome.

Whatever you decide to practice, make sure it is something you can repeat with ease and always have your guest in mind.

Basics

Receiving people into our homes can seem a little awkward for both us and our guests. Especially if you have never done so before or just don’t do it very often. Here are some basic tips for receiving guests into your home as a sort of a beginner’s guide.

  • The most important thing is to greet each guest as they enter. For dinner parties or larger gatherings, don’t stay in the kitchen and allow other guests to do the greeting for you. This can make your guest feel awkward when entering. Especially if they do not know everyone in attendance. Take the time to introduce any new faces.
  • Have a place for guests to hang coats and offer ladies a place to put their purses.
  • Offer your guest a drink whether water, coffee, or tea. If cocktail hour, it’s good to offer a cocktail or something appropriate for such an occasion.
  • Direct to the where they can have a seat.
  • If having a friend over to chat, set out a few cookies or treats and offer tea or coffee.

Creating Special Occasions at Home

Previous to COVID, I hosted dinner parties about once a year in my home. Although it’s true that I enjoy hosting them but I never quite realized just how special they can be. When you go to a restaurant, you are at the mercy of the waiting staff and cook to provide your experience. Countless times, I have been disappointed by either the service or the food. And sometimes both!

Whereas when you host at home, you are in control of the entire affair. The ambiance, food, and even the service. You of course will be responsible for planning the service portion of the evening. But if planned right, it is not as much of a burden as you might think.

A good friend’s birthday was coming up and the weather outside was beautiful. I decided on a simple lunch in the backyard. We were amid COVID and my choices were limited.

On the menu was my Easy Blueberry Tart, and for the meal, I kept it simple as well. With a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and a potato salad. It was then that I recognized the fact that it wasn’t about the food necessarily or even the fact that this lunch was not at a restaurant. The effort we provide to the people in our lives that makes things memorable. It is all in the details that make the difference.

Food Presentation

When you host at home whether you cook the food or buy store-bought. Practicing hospitality at home is more about how we do things. Sure making food from scratch is an added gesture. But presenting any sort of food, the presentation of it matters. Place the items on a nice serving dish or even a pretty plate. I also find using my cake stand for the dessert, placed near or on the table is a nice touch.

a blueberry tart on a cake stand for guests at home

Practicing the art of hospitality at home is a great skill set to develop. Remember, “People might not remember what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

-Maya Angelou

Always Set The Table

When having any sort of sit-down meal or even dessert with coffee. The best thing is to the table prior to your guest’s arrival. This not only provides a great way to wow your guests but it is a practical hospitality tip as it shows you have prepared and took care for their visit.  

a table set for guests

We don’t have to be Martha Stewart to make good hosts. But if you can think ahead a little out of thoughtfulness, this is likely the ultimate act of hospitality. Consider when you set the table everyone has what they need and no one is asking where to grab a fork or napkin.

a cloth napkin with lavender

For this particular lunch, we were eating outside.For this particular lunch, we were eating outside. I grabbed a tablecloth and cut some fresh lavender from my garden. Then placed it on our napkins as sort of a keepsake and added beauty to the table. If you would like some extra help in the art of setting the table. Be sure to check out this post for Setting The Table For a Dinner Party.

Little Touches Count

The best way to have a hospitable home is by caring about the little touches that make people feel cared for. This kind of hospitality goes a step further. We all know that flowers are always placed at the center but they don’t need to be a large overwhelming bouquet. A few cut flowers from a rose bush or even a small grocery store bouquet works nicely. For this particular occasion, I decided to hang a Happy Birthday banner on the fence near the gifts to make my guest feel even more important on her birthday.  

Giving your full attention to your guests and being prepared if you have small children to tend to. Try to be mindful of dietary restrictions and if you are holding something like a bible study or afternoon tea, end it at an appropriate time to accommodate guests that have time restrictions. 

The practice of hospitality can be overwhelming at first, its a good idea to start small and build on these simple practices, as this will expand your comfort zone. I suggest starting with a small group maybe even just one or two at first. Host a lunch on a weekend afternoon. Set a pretty table, prepare a simple meal and more than anything else, welcome your guests and make them feel heard.

a table set for guests

For many young people, the word hospitality might not mean much at first, but as we begin to practice it in our homes and throughout our lives, we begin to realize just how important human connection is. How the very act of bringing people into our homes and ensuring they are made to feel welcomed connects us, creates stronger bonds, and healthier friendships.

So I hope the next time you host a gathering, these tips help you welcome your guests in a way that makes a lasting impression. 

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