Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Simplifying Hospitality

  
Image used with permission per Creative Commons Attributes license.
Copyright belongs to Elln B. No alterations made to image. 


     We recently invited friends and their families over for dinner at our home. It had been a while since we had done such. As much as I enjoy having guests, I honestly shied away from it a bit fearing that hosting an event would add so much more work and stress. But, I know that gathering with others is so good to incorporate in my life, and into my home and family. I particularly want my children to grow up to understand that the home isn't just a place for ourselves, but also a place for welcoming others. 

      Yet, I know that they will not have a favorable perspective of hospitality if I'm overwhelmed and stressed out by it. Right now in this season of very little children hosting a gathering like we have in the past would do exactly that.  Previously, we would make absolutely certain that the house was spotlessly clean. We would also make a homemade meal, and eat on our regular dishes. A significant portion of the day may have been spent in preparation. This was fine then, but wouldn't be feasible now. To make this endeavor successful we would need a new approach.

    We did the following aspects different this time around:

  • House cleaning
    • Maintain a cleaning routine. A quick clean is only possible when the housework hasn't been neglected during the week. For me, the best way to keep a home tidy, especially with young children, is to do a little each day. If not, it will build up to far more than one person can tackle..while watching young children and preparing for guests. 
    • Accept clean, but not necessarily spotlessly clean. We cleared the clutter from our main living area. We also mopped the kitchen floor as it was obviously in need of attention in places. We did what would be noticeable. My perfectionist eye caught tasks that could have been done (dusting, vacuuming etc), but I knew that no one else was going to be looking that closely. We made sure that our home was clean, but not necessarily perfectly spotless. 
    • Divide and conquer: cleaning with two little ones is challenging. We knew that we would be able to get more accomplished in less time by being able to focus. So, David took Annelise out, and I cleaned while Tennyson napped. It worked beautifully! (In fact, we might start doing this on a regular basis to create the opportunity for completing any remaining weekly tasks) 
  • Dishes
    • We opted for using disposable dishes. This isn't the most cost, or eco-friendly option. It also goes against the old etiquette of offering your best to your guests. However, I weighed my options: waste on disposable products or waste life-enriching opportunity to gather with others. I choose the disposable products. It was fabulous not having lots of dishes to wash from eight or more sets of tableware and the cookware used to prepare the large meal. Instead, we were able to promptly get the children to bed, finished whatever we needed to for the day, and then enjoy each others' company. Did I mention we were in bed by 9:30 p.m.? I would definitely have still been up doing dishes previously!
  • Food
    • We chose to go really simple with the meal, and utilized convenience foods. Fully homemade meals are really nice, and perhaps feasible for serving one extra family. Two or more families begin to require greater preparations and clean-up. Things like frozen meals (lasagna), casseroles and boxed desserts are great alternatives. If possible, we could make some of these meals homemade and then keep them in the freezer. Or, we could have a pre-packaged meal on hand in the freezer. If we want to still do something homemade, then we could trade off a prepared meal and homemade dessert. Or have the meal be homemade and the dessert pre-packaged. There are several options that will meet the need for one evening. 
      The main idea is to capitalize on convenience so that we may direct our attention elsewhere while still being able to open our home to others. There may come a time in which we are once again able to do the things we once did in preparation for guests. Right now, though, we must consider what is realistic and what will or won't bring joy into the endeavor. 

      Doing things this way has renewed my joy in hosting. My soul needed that gathering together with others. We all needed a moment to pull away from ourselves and our everyday. I'm encouraged to continue to try to invite friends and their families over for a meal at least once a month. I think I can handle this new way to extend hospitality in our home and family! It's all about finding what works well for you. :)

 

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