The Heart of Hospitality

Erin Smalley honestly

Being a gracious hostess matters deeply to me, but often I end up exhausted before anyone even arrives. Mainly because I’ve spent hours cleaning my house (and strategically hiding my piles in various locations), preparing an amazing recipe, or having a table set looking like an image out of Southern Living. Recently, I learned something new about welcoming guests into my home.

A few months ago I was invited to a lunch at a newer friend’s house. I put the address into my GPS and zipped off (late, of course) to her house. I followed along carefully and soon my handy device announced “my destination was ahead on the right.” I noticed a bunch of cars parked along the edge of the street and parked in the first open spot. Quickly, I gathered my purse and rushed up the walkway and rang the doorbell. Excited to see my girlfriends, I went ahead and threw the door open and walked in.

As I stepped into the house, I was warmly greeted by a group of women sitting in front of a fireplace. I quickly scanned the group and for some reason didn’t remotely recognize anyone. Regardless, they happily encouraged me to grab something to drink and to join them. After a few moments, one of the ladies yelled out, “Here for the PTO meeting?” To my shock and horror — I quickly realized I had let myself into a total stranger’s house! I wasn’t looking for a PTO meeting — I was looking for a lunch that was up the street!

After I recovered from my embarrassment, I realized these ladies taught me something. Even though I was at the wrong home, they seemed so warm and welcoming — there was a part of me that wanted to stay and get to know them! Later, as I told my husband about my hilarious day, it struck me funny, because of all the things I typically worried about when having someone over, the last thing I had ever thought of, was greeting them warmly and welcoming them in. I was always too busy stressing over the cleanliness of my house, the food preparation, the table setting and the last minute details.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

As the holidays approach, and, as moms, we know this season can bring lots of extra stress and pressure to prepare — let yourself focus more on welcoming your friends and family into your home rather than wearing yourself out before they even arrive!


The patented Bebe Belay clip and tab design keeps pacifiers, lovies, and all of those small toys from falling to the floor.

What is your version of the embarrassing –I-showed-up-at-the-wrong-house story?