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!
Hospitality Through Dinner Invitations
We talk a lot here about hospitality but what if this concept is completely new to you? Some of you may be new to having a place of your own or intimidated by what we coin here “a life of hospitality” which goes beyond our physical spaces. If this is you and you just have no idea where to begin. Look no further. The purpose of this article and checklist are to give you an idea of what to take into consideration when bringing guests into your home for dinner.
I consider it “risky” to put together a post like this because I do not think that hospitality is every characterized in Scripture as something that is meant to be checked off our list occasionally. The Bible seems to make it clear that hospitality is instead meant to characterize the life of Christians everywhere. It is supposed to be a daily practice that does not only happen in our homes but more so in our hearts (check out this post for more on a welcoming life).
However, I understand that we have to start somewhere. Just telling you to speak to every stranger you see or welcome the whole world into your home is overwhelming to many and not something that is helpful.
The purpose of this post is to be a helpful launching place. Hospitality began like this in my home – very scheduled and very planned. Over time as I learned to love the relationship opportunities and joy of community, my hospitality has changed and is changing. I am not where I want to be in this but moving forward.
Right now my hospitality looks like a combination of dinners and parties planned well in advance and spur of the moment times at our home and in public. Planning ahead can help with differing schedules and make sure there is a chance to spend time with others who, like us, have schedules that fill up far too quickly. Being open to people stopping over or being willing to see the needs of others and engage in public on a spur of the moment basis helps us and others remember that sometimes schedules get in the way of real life.
Both types of hospitality are helpful and beautiful.
My hope is that this will help those who are just getting started with the practice of hospitality and those who are seasoned but would just like a visual to help them organize their thoughts.
I’m so excited to share our printable graphic to keep you on track as you plan a dinner get-together in your home.
Without further ado here is what you will find outlined in the graphic.
Come up with a loose plan of the meal you want to make. This is helpful for many reasons and really cuts down on the stress level. You can plan to make 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. I have to admit, I have been known to experiment on guests some in recent years but when I was first learning to cook, this didn’t happen! This is also very helpful because there is a good chance your guests 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 are: 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.
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 church leader, or someone you know needs encouragement. If you are struggling to think of who to invite, I suggest prayer. 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 is 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? I have Crohn’s disease. It is primarily managed at this point by diet. This means that I can’t have a lot of what other people make for me. It has also, at times, meant very short stays at the homes of others because I have gotten ill. 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.
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 but don’t you feel more relaxed in a house that is picked up? I know I do. To be honest, this is my biggest motivation in cleaning before guests arrive. If I don’t clean my house beforehand I will spend my time with guests thinking about the crumbs on the floor and 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 beforehand.
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 can often communicate to guests that we are real people when things aren’t exactly perfect and make 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, my guests may 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 the bills may cover the countertop. That is the reality of my daily life and you are welcome to see it.
But when I 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 that fort will be being built around us.
This is an obvious one if you are having dinner guests but what may not be as obvious is how much can be done ahead. If you know you have dinner guests coming on Tuesday and you go grocery shopping on Saturday there is a lot you can prepare beforehand. Say you have chicken soup and chocolate chip cookies on the menu. There is no reason you can’t chop your veggies on Monday night, make the cookie dough, and roll it into balls. If you do this, the next day will only be dumping some things into the pot to simmer and popping some cookies in the oven. Especially if you have young children this is great idea because life gets in the way often!!
Check Out Our Dinner Guest Checklist!
With those thoughts in mind, check out this infographic! You can get the printable PDF to your inbox if you subscribe to our newsletter! It is great on the fridge or the inside the pantry door to look at as you organize for your dinner guests. You will also get The Hospitable Homemaker’s Help – our monthly newsletter with hospitality/Christian life helps and blog updates!
It is my hope and prayer that this resource will be helpful to those of you who need encouragement and simplification in the area of dinner guests!
Let me know what you think and what else you struggle with in hospitality! We can work together to “stir one other up to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25)!