Children can help with hospitality! It may seem daunting but here are 6 practical ways your children can be involved and helpful when guests are about to arrive!
Children Helping With Hospitality – It is Possible!
As a mom to young children I understand how daunting it can feel to open your home and heart to others when little ones are close on your heals. I have even allowed my littles more time on the television than they normally get so I can finish up last minute details. While I don’t think an extra episode of Paw Patrol will ultimately hurt my children and a few minutes of quiet is refreshing to my soul, I do think there is great value in my children learning the skills of welcoming others.
Over time I have developed some ways that my children help me prepare for hospitality. I don’t do all of these perfectly but the more that I succeed in practicing these things with my children, the more they grow in their spirit of welcome and excitement about hosting.
Related: 1 Lesson Your Children Need to Know to be Hospitable
Ways Your Children Can Help with Hospitality
This is one of the best and easiest ways, in my opinion, for children to help welcome! There are a million things that they can do to help prepare. They can make place cards for each guest with a small piece of folded cardstock. They can make placemats for each guests by decorating a piece of construction paper. Or they can be in charge of putting together a low centerpiece for the table by collecting flowers and branches from the yard (check these for bugs if your children are little). There are a million ways to be creative with this and it can serve two purposes. You can have a few minutes to complete some necessary tasks in the kitchen or around the house while they work and they can still be involved in a special way.
Set the Table
My little ones love to help with this! They are only 4 and 2 at this point so it takes some time and they have to carry each piece individually but they just love helping and this is a practical way that they are genuinely able to help. The older they get the more independent they are and this is becoming a real way for them to help that eases my pressure some!
Pray for the guests
We have talked about this before (check out more about that here…). I think this is a vital component to good hospitality that we often overlook. What a blessing to pray for the people who will grace our doors if we know they are coming ahead of time. The is an opportunity to pray that our family would be a blessing to them and they to us. We can also pray that our conversation would be pleasing to the Lord and edifying for all of us. We can pray for fun and relaxation. And we can even pray the details come together so that we are not distracted.
This is a great way to get your children involved! Pray for your guests travel to and from your home at the breakfast table. Pray for your work to be completed and good conversation to be enjoyed at lunch. And then pray that everyone involved would be blessed by the time together in the afternoon. Allow your children to hear you pray for your guests and be involved in saying the prayers.
God delights to work through the prayers of His people. I have seen this time and time again!
Check out my post about the 7-word prayer that changed my life with littles here.
Involve them in Cooking
This one can be challenging because a lot of the time it means extra time in the kitchen. My little ones LOVE to help me cook but that means a lot of extra time helping them measure and dump correctly and cleaning up spills. Whenever possible, embrace this!
A love of cooking is a life-long skill your children need to have. Allow them to be involved as much as possible so that they can learn and make sweet memories that will carry them through the many tedious meals of their adult lives.
For some great kid-friendly recipes, check out this post from Anna at My Life and Kids!
Check out these cool kid-friendly knives for your little helpers! We haven’t gotten them yet but they are on our list for sure!
Teach them to Clean
This is my current task. I am teaching my two-year-old how to clean up his toys and books (although the bookshelf quickly becomes a pile). I am also teaching my four-year-old how to make her bed (with some help) right now. We do our best to turn this into a Mary Poppins type experience whenever possible (I even play the song for them and quote “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun!” several times a day). Even the youngest children can begin to learn these skills and as they get older they can truly become helpful if you take the time to teach them.
This is a great post about the chores you can teach your children to help with depending on their age from my friend Melissa at Humble Faith Family Wellness and it even includes a printable version!
Ask a Question (thank you Sally!)
I am currently working my way through my second book by Sally Clarkson (The Lifegiving Table). It is fantastic and you can expect a review soon I’m sure. She gives a million helpful suggestions for family meals but one thing she suggested that I love is to have your children prepare ahead of time a question they will ask each guest. The goal is to involve your children in the conversation and teach them how to interact with guests of all ages and backgrounds.
I LOVE this thought! So often I am guilty of talking about things with my children present but not really involving them in the conversation. I’m afraid they probably assume that I do not value their input or conversation. I am a stay at home mom and I really enjoy talking to other adults on occasion but I need to remember that my children are watching and aching to be heard and involved.
This doesn’t mean that I should lower my expectations such that my children think they can control every conversation. Instead I should be teaching them how to be involved appropriately.
Related: 4 Ways to Make Time for Hospitality
Hospitality is Possible Even With Young Children!
Having young children doesn’t mean that you can’t practice hospitality. It does take some extra effort, time, and creativity, but it is very possible. It is also a great way for your children to grow up. If they watch you and are involved in welcoming others, building community, and having conversation they will have a much easier time carrying that tradition forward in their lives.
How do you involve your children in welcoming? I would love to hear what others are doing! Let me know in the comments below!
Check out this and other great posts at the Salt and Light Link Up!
Wow. How easy to miss the importance of praying for our guests! Thank you for your reminder!
I am also working with my 4 year old cleaning and making his bed. 🙂
Yes!! I completely agree! So easy to forget this important part!!! <3 Good luck mama! Teaching responsibility is a hard job!
I’ve always had my kiddies on board with the hospitality thing! They seem to jump right on board when I announce guests arriving…picked up pillows, clean up toys, set the table, and my girls always love making placecards for the tables.
Aw!! I love that!! 🙂 Perfect example in real life of what we are talking about here 🙂
I love the one about praying for your guests! I hadn’t thought of this one, and it’s a beautiful service in addition to hospitality. We have different guests over for dinner almost every week, and my children get so excited but it often turns into a show-and-tell time for them. I’m going to encourage the “ask a question” one to help them learn to think more about helping our guests feel welcome!
Aw!! Love that you are practicing hospitality so often! and I love your heart to teach your children how to make people feel welcome and loved! I hope these suggestions are helpful 🙂
I so enjoyed this post.
My heart aches for more people to come to our home (weve just immigrated and dont have a community yet).
I love the tips on prayer and questions. Ill definitely remember those.
As a kid my mom involved us in hospitality and it was such fun to prepare for people. Id love to instill a love for people in my boys.
What an amazing desire! It can be so hard when you are new to an area! I’m confident God will give you community so that you can pass on the love for people your mom passed on to you!!
I love the idea of havingbask the guest questions. I have a shy daughter who can be helped by this
Oh good!!! I’m so glad to hear that!!
This is great, I also teach not just my kids but myself the importance of praying with somebody in need. Because prayer can move mountains, everything good that you do will be given back to you in hundred folds.
LOVE that! Not just praying before they arrive but actually praying with the guests! What a beautiful idea for motherhood and all of Christian life!
I asked my kids in advance to think of a question each for the guests. The guests were always a little impressed, but more importantly, my kids learned the art of conversation – asking questions helps turn a stranger into a friend, and that’s what it’s all about. And now I see them carry that art into their young adult lives. Great post! Another way is to ask the family: who needs an invitation to our table? Makes them “own” the hospitality more.
Oh I love that!!! I have just started working on the intentionally asking questions idea but it really seems like it will be a great lesson for them for exactly the reason you mention! My goal is that my children will feel comfortable and be engaged in conversation with all different people as they grow! LOVE the idea about asking them who should be invited to the table!!! I think my kids would eat that up!!! Thank you for the suggestion!
What an excellent post! My kids have just turned 4 and 6 and my 4 year old is obsessed with vacuuming. As you can imagine, his vacuuming skills aren’t professional. The last few times we have had people over, I allow him to vacuum and then I refuse to go over what he’s done. My floors might not be immaculate, but I truly appreciate the help and honestly, I don’t think people notice either way. Second, I’ve been working to have cookie dough made up, flash frozen, and ready to go when we have unexpected guests. My 6 year old has recently figured out how to put the cookie tray into the oven. Having the cookies made up ahead of time means that we can take as much time as we want to make them, which is good because I usually am a crazy person prior to people showing up. 🙂
SUCH great points!! My temptation is always to try to “fix” the cleaning job my littles are doing but I dont think that accomplishes anything other than discouraging them… that is a challenge for me! LOVE your idea about freezing the cookie dough! I will have to do that because my littles always want to help but it is hard just before people come since it takes extra time to walk children through how to do something… thank you for the ideas! <3