Hosting a dinner but don’t know where to start? Look no further. Simple and straightforward, this printable dinner guest checklist is the resource you need!
Have You Ever Been a Dinner Guest?
Inviting dinner guests makes for a perfect entrance into a ministry of hospitality. If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect, don’t know where to begin, or just work well with a visual, keep reading!
Our apartment was small and old. The doors inside swayed when the wind blew because the windows didn’t stop it. The orange/brown shag carpeting gave it an authentic 70’s vibe. And every piece of furniture we had was passed down from someone looking for a way to get rid of it.
None of that really mattered though.
I made a simple meal and we gathered around the table with friends from church.
As her husband reached for his second helping, she said, “This is so nice! We have never been invited to someone’s house for dinner before.”
I almost fell off my chair.
Never? How could that be?
This friend had grown up in the church, was married in the church, and was now raising her own children in the church. And she had never been invited for dinner?!
My heart broke.
She went on to explain that they had been invited for parties or larger gatherings but never for a simple dinner.
Since then, I have heard this story MANY times and I have watched many people living it.
How many people in our churches and neighborhoods could say that they have never been invited for a meal?
That is evidence that we, as Christians, NEED to grab onto this idea of hospitality.
God has commanded it and historically it has been used of God to grow His church and spread His fame.
Baby Steps Make A Big Impact
As a newlywed, my husband and I talked about what we wanted our lives to look like. We couldn’t see into the future but we did know for sure that we wanted our lives to be filled with people.
People to love, people to host, and people to build real and lasting community with.
But what that would look like was all kind of hazy.
We started the messy process of building a home that was both a refuge and a launching point.
Our desire is that our home always be a place of rest and refueling that does not leave us or our guests uninspired. Our desire is that the rest we feel here would launch us into further ministry.
I want our home to be a tool in the hands of God – a place where our family and our guests can talk, dream, plan, reenergize, laugh, cry, and grow.
And, by the grace of God alone, I believe it is becoming that!
It started, as all new ventures do, with missteps and mistakes and floundering around. But God took those feeble attempts and made them beautiful.
There is honestly no way to get rid of those challenges. There is no way to make everything perfect and pretty when you are first starting out with any venture, and hospitality is no different. But, why would we want that anyway?
God uses all those simple, awkward, honestly raw moments for His glory and our good as we grow to image Him more to the world around us.
BUT, it is nice to have some help along the way.
If you have wondered, how do I host well? How do I eliminate some of the stress of hosting a dinner guest? Is there a way to make it less intimidating?
The answer is yes! There are a few steps that, when practiced regularly, become part of us. These are simple steps that we need to be reminded of and then become second nature before long.
Our goal is to build community in way that is natural and a regular part of our lives. Building that community happens one baby step at a time.
So, how do we get started? That is where the ultimate dinner guest checklist comes in!
Confident Hosting: Dinner Guest Checklist
Come up with a loose plan of the meal you want to make for your dinner guest.
This really cuts down on the stress level. You can plan to cook something you are particularly good at or you can try something new. Planning ahead gives you a chance to get the experiments out of the way before your guests arrive.
This is also very helpful because there is a good chance your dinner guest will ask what they can bring. Having a loose plan frees you up to give them an idea.
Some good examples of what to suggest they bring could be: drinks, salad, or dessert. If you have an idea of what you will make then you can give your guests a suggestion that will complement the meal well.
Allowing your guests to contribute is a sure way to make them feel comfortable, included, and share the burden of the meal. Don’t feel bad about this!
This is obvious but in order to host a dinner guest, you have to invite people into your home.
If this concept is completely new to you, it is fine to start with friends. Obviously friends should always stay on your list of invitees. But, hopefully you will fall in love with hospitality and move beyond just friends because hospitality really is meant to welcome all people and specifically strangers.
Some good examples of people to invite might be:
- members of your church you don’t know well
- new people in the church
- a neighbor, a new mom
- church leader
- someone you know needs encouragement
If you are struggling to think of who to invite, pray about it! I am quite sure God will show you who would be blessed by your budding hospitality ministry.
You can also speak to your pastor. Chances are, he has a long list of people who would be blessed by this ministry and he is already trying to get to all of them himself.
Ask your guests questions before they arrive.
Do they have any food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities? Is there a food they really just don’t like? Are their children picky?
I have Crohn’s disease. It is primarily managed at this point by diet. This means that I can’t eat a lot of what other people make for me. I am used to not being able to eat everything others can. It honestly doesn’t bother me.
But it is a great blessing when someone goes out of their way to ask me about it and then provides a meal I don’t have to sit out.
This is a practical way to show love to your guests before they even arrive at your home. And honestly, it’s kind of awkward as a host to make a meal and then have guests that just can’t eat it. Save yourself that trouble and ask ahead of time!
And then keep notes – just a simple “Sally can’t eat gluten” inside your planner will suffice and remembering this the next time will make your guests feel seen and loved.
Some people stress about this way too much and I have totally been there! Your guests don’t need your home to be perfectly scrubbed of any signs of life so stop putting that kind of pressure on yourself!
To be honest, my biggest motivation for cleaning before guests arrive is the fact that if I don’t clean my house I know I will spend my time with guests thinking about the crumbs on the floor and apologizing for the dishes in the sink.
While I realize this evidences my vanity, I also realize that one way to avoid my distraction and that of my guests is to clean up beforehand when I have the chance.
I have two very young children. I do not intend to cover up the evidence that we live here nor do I believe that would be wise. It communicates to guests that we are real people when things aren’t exactly perfect and makes people feel more comfortable.
My goal has always been that I do not distract myself or my guests. If my house is completely picture perfect, my guests may feel like they can’t settle in and relax. If my house is a complete mess, I will feel anxious. I don’t want either.
Now, I clean literally every day. I am a stay at home mom and that is just what we do… But if you just stop over at any given time there is a good chance every pillow and blanket in my house will be involved in the fort newly constructed in my living room and bills may cover the countertop. That is the reality of my daily life and you are welcome to see it.
When I have the chance to plan ahead, I do try to keep things clean and organized so that we can just enjoy conversation. Although, while we talk, there is a good chance a fort will be built around us.
5. Cook or Order Food
Guess what? You don’t have to make homemade meals for dinner guests! I usually do because it is less expensive BUT you don’t have to.
You can host dinner guests and order food and everything will be fine so don’t think you have to be a great cook or have a ton of spare time to host. That’s simply not true.
But if you are hosting a dinner guest and you plan to cook, check out the recipes and make as much as possible ahead of time. This also works to get some of the experimenting out of the way if you are nervous about a particular recipe or if it is new to you.
Grab Your Copy of the Dinner Guest Checklist
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It is great to hang on the refrigerator or the inside the pantry door to look at as you organize for your dinner guests.
It is my hope that this resource will be helpful to those of you who need encouragement and simplification in the area of hosting a dinner guest!
Can I challenge you? Print your copy of this checklist and then put it to work this week! Ask someone to come over for a meal and take the next step in your journey to becoming a community builder!
What are you favorite things to do when you are hosting a dinner guest? What helps you stay organized? Let me know in the comments below!