Hospitality. Perhaps it comes easy to you; or perhaps, like me, you find it intimidating. Mention the word and my heart rate rises, my insecurities come to light, and I begin to worry. What if I’m not a good hostess? I can’t drive a conversation! What if someone can still smell the milk my two-year-old spilled into the couch? What if I burn dinner or pull a less-than spotless dish from the cupboard?!
Yes, it sounds silly, but it’s true: I am scared of hospitality. I’m not a natural-born hostess. I’ve had to be brave, conquer fears, and grow the gift of hospitality. So, how do I open my home and extend hospitality if it scares me? Here are six tips I’ve learned along the way:
Your guests will enjoy their time with you regardless of some dust-bunnies in the corner, regardless of the slight lingering odor in the couch, regardless of whether or not dinner is 100% perfect. Perfection is not a prerequisite to hospitality. Don’t get so caught up worrying about the little things you miss what hospitality is all about: the gracious, friendly reception and treatment of guests. You can be 100% hospitable and do it well, even if things go awry.
2. Practice in safety
If hospitality scares you, there is no need to conquer it by signing up to host Christmas dinner! Fear can be conquered slowly and in a safe environment just as effectively. Make a list of the friends and family you are closest with — the ones you feel safe just being you around — and start with them. These are the people who won’t judge you for a mistake or two, who will laugh at the story of the toddler dumping milk all over the couch, who will enjoy fellowship with you . . . even if dinner gets burned.
3. Start small
If hosting a dinner is intimidating, start with a game or movie night. If you are scared of burning dinner, order some take-out! Hospitality isn’t “go big or go home!” It is a skill developed over time.
4. Set a goal
As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect!” Set a goal of inviting friends or family over at least once a month. Begin by planning a movie night, dinner or book club — wherever you feel most comfortable starting. Invite the people you are closest with and work your way up. With a little practice, you may even find yourself enjoying hospitality!
5. Be brave
Practicing hospitality may take you outside your comfort zone, you may even need to conquer some insecurities or fears, but it will be worth it. Face it, conquer it, and grow the gift of hospitality.
A close friend told me a story recently of an evening gone completely wrong. Dinner was inedible, their infants had a meltdown, and it seemed like everything had gone entirely wrong. But they were just friends enjoying one another’s company. They laughed, made it work, and no one walked away saying, “Wow, what an awful hostess!” Laughter is good for the soul, and some of the best memories are made when things get a little crazy.
I am still a work in progress, but I’ve actually learned to enjoy extending hospitality. I invite you to be brave and practice hospitality in your home. Perhaps one day, we will even find ourselves graciously hosting Christmas dinner.
Carrie is a wife, momma and lover of all things chocolate. Her two boys keep her busy “son-up to son-down”, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. You can connect with her at mommaminutes.com or on Facebook.