19 Hospitality Do’s and Don’ts
I love my home and want to welcome others into it. But, hospitality is not always easy or convenient. Here are 19 ways to do it right, and to avoid common mistakes! Hopefully, you will see that behind the practical is the personal. Who you are inside and the value you see in every person are the keys to having a hospitable home.
While most of these explanations are about having guests in your home, the “do’s and don’ts” also apply in other contexts, such as your workplace, your church, your community engagements, your schools, and many more. Hospitality is NOT about the size of your home, the food you serve, or the money you spend; but rather, hospitality is about serving others and selflessly giving of yourself.
1. Act inconvenienced
Let’s face it. Hospitality is not always convenient. We are all busy. You might be trying to finish supper. Maybe you were getting the kids to bed. Your house might not be clean or the laundry basket of clothes that need folding is still sitting in the floor. The unexpected interruption was . . . well . . . an inconvenience. BUT DON’T LET THEM SEE IT! Your interaction with someone can have a lasting impact on their day and their life. It’s ok to let someone see inside your REAL life. In fact, it can be an encouragement!
2. Leave the tv on or focus on your phone
Put it down and turn off distractions. The text can wait. The email is probably not that urgent. Your continual attention to a cell phone communicates to the guest that they are not important. The loud noise of the television makes it difficult to hear and provides a distraction from the priority. People should always be priority.
3. Leave them standing
Invite them to come in, if appropriate. OR, it might be more appropriate for you to step outside and offer them a seat on the porch. Certainly, this does not mean you invite every stranger into the living room, but if it is someone you know, the courteous thing to do is to welcome them in and offer them a seat. This helps to break down barriers and sets an environment for open communication.
4. Apologize for the condition of your house
I have to be honest. I am so guilty of this one! I see the mess. They see a person. They do not care! They need something from you that has nothing to do with the condition of your house. They need kindness, compassion, and a listening ear. They know you were not expecting them. Do not worry about giving a bad impression. They simply need to see your authentic self, and that your house gets messy just like theirs. And maybe, just maybe, they will help you fold that laundry basket of towels!
5. Focus on your home
If this is the first time this person has been in your home, it is often polite to compliment or comment on specific things they see. This is part of making small talk before they get to the main reason for their visit. But if they compliment your sofa, or picture, or decorative item, PLEASE do not say that you just bought it for $$$. What if they are there to tell you that they lost their job? Do not make their visit about you! Be humble and gracious when receiving compliments and look for opportunities to return the praise!
6. Repeatedly look at your watch
Repeatedly looking at your watch communicates that you are in a hurry or have something better to do. Just like displaying your inconvenience when the doorbell rings, so does looking at your watch repeatedly communicate to them that you have had more than enough of their presence. Give your guests your full attention.
7. Pick up your keys/purse
When possible, look at this as a divine interruption and an opportunity to be a blessing. If in fact, you do have an urgent reason to depart, please be upfront and share with the guest that you have a previous engagement, and ask if there is another time you could visit with them. However, look at this as a divine interruption that presents an opportunity for you to be a blessing.
8. Carry on multiple conversations
If your family is coming in and out while your guest is with you, do your best to focus on the guest. Do not continue a conversation that was taking place prior to the doorbell intrusion. Put those things on hold and focus on your guest. It is a great opportunity to teach your children manners and how to treat a guest.
9. Complain about your problems
Unless they have specifically come to you as an encouragement because they know you are having a time of difficulty, please do not use their listening ear to unload your struggles. You should model being a good listener first!
James 1:19 says, ” Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
These next two are good practices if you know ahead of time that a guest or party will be coming.
Be yourself! Do not go spend money that you probably do not have to impress someone who probably won’t care! Be who you are. If not, at some point in the dinner your five-year-old will tell them that mommy just bought those new plates, or that new _______ just to impress the people that were coming to dinner! Remember the focus is people not stuff. More posts coming soon on how to host a gathering on a budget!
11. Try to keep a perfect home
They will not be impressed, and chances are it just might make them feel bad about what they do not have. Perfectionism will drive you crazy and increase the stress level on everyone in your family. And in case you were wondering, there is not a perfect home!
A good reminder for doing things with excellence is not to impress others, but in order that your life be honorable to the Lord.
Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”
Be a joyful host! Your smile will not only make them feel welcome, it will change your outlook as well!
2. Know their name and USE IT
It makes them feel significant and valuable to you when you call the by name. There’s an old sitcom that was known for the tag line “you want to go where everyone knows your name.” Why is that so important? It makes them feel significant and valuable to you when you call the by name. This is also important in your workplace, school, and community.
3. Keep a clean home
Because it is the right thing to do and shows others that you are a good steward/caretaker of the things with which you have been blessed. Develop simple habits that help you keep your home tidy. Start by making your bed!
4. Keep refreshments on hand
Keep some easy snacks, coffee, sweet tea, or even just water on hand to offer your guests. Keep meals in the freezer that can be easily shared with a sick friend, or a tired new mother.
5. Be a good listener. Listen for ways to encourage and be a blessing
You always listen better when you look at the person speaking. And once again, it makes them feel significant and valuable to you. Listen for opportunities to share encouragement or even resources with your guest. Maybe you can share a Bible verse that’s meaningful to you or book that has been an encouragement to you.
6. For overnight guests, prepare a space that is comfortable and welcoming
Have a comfortable place for them to stay. Provide extra blankets, toiletries, and the wifi password.
7. Display humility
Express sincere appreciation to them for thinking of you, for feeling that they could stop by, for trusting your listening ear for the problem they might be facing. This is related to some of the previous list, but make every effort to value their visit.
8. Be yourself
Without a doubt, some people are gifted to be better at cooking or decorating. Some people have a larger home or a smaller home. Some people have the newest furniture, others have some folding chairs. Whatever your situation might be, everyone can, and should, practice hospitality. Because at the end of the day, it is not about the place; it is about the person. It is not about your creativity; it is about your character.
1 Peter 4:9-10 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”