a table set for outdoor eating hospitality at home
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Practicing Hospitality At Home

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Practicing hospitality at home and sharing some tips for creating a nice setting for your guests.

a blueberry tart for practicing hospitality

The word hospitality might seem a bit old-fashioned in some senses. The word itself means “the friendly and generous treatment of visitors and guests.” Seems easy enough, right? However, the notion is not as common or practiced in the way it is written often enough. This of course varies in different parts of the country. I often hear how hospitable the folks in the south are. But if you just so happen to not live amongst the most hospitable areas of the country. Like myself. ( I am guessing this is likely the case since you have stumbled across this blog post). You might find that many times you may have entered someone’s home and not been offered so much as a seat. Times when a mention of water or coffee was only an afterthought.

It is not to say that the people in these scenarios were intentionally being rude. Rather I find the practice is just not something many are taught and so they don’t think of it on the spot. True enough that manners are at play here in some senses. After all, it is only polite to offer your guests a drink upon entering your home. Or to direct them where they can have a seat.

However, there is more than these simple polite pleasantries that go along with hospitality. It is going the extra mile out of generosity. The idea of being aware of how your guests feel when they enter and when they depart. Truly taking the time to consider how we make a guest feel. That is the significance of hospitality. To develop our skills in the fine art of hospitality, we must have some key things we practice. Some go-to moves if you will for practicing hospitality at home. In doing so, we can create the sort of environment that makes people feel special and cared for.

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.

  • 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. True that I did 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

Always Set The Table

When having any sort of sit-down meal or even dessert with coffee. Set the table prior to your guest’s arrival. This not only provides a great way to wow your guests but it is also quite practical.

When you set the table everyone has what they need and no one is asking where to grab a fork or napkin. 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.

a cloth napkin with lavender

Little Touches Count

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.

When you first bring people into your home, think simply. It can be overwhelming trying to serve up a fancy meal to a large group of friends. I suggest starting with a few guests maybe even just one or two at first. Host a lunch on a weekend afternoon. Set a pretty table and invite them over for a chicken salad, or an array of heavy appetizers from the store. I promise you, it doesn’t take much but the small effort is worth doing.

a table set for guests

Practicing the art of hospitality 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

And with this in mind, I hope you find value in this post and begin practicing hospitality at home.

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