Hospitality at Home – How to Show Hospitality to Others

For many people, opening our doors doesn’t come naturally.  Showing hospitality at home can feel overwhelming and stressful.  However, it doesn’t have to be.  You can learn how to show hospitality to others even when it doesn’t seem easy.

Many, many years ago hospitality was a common occurrence for families.  It wasn’t out of the norm to have people over for dinner, or welcome all the neighborhood kids into your house.  But over time we got busier with extra-curriculars, working, and schedules. 

We became more self-isolated as we traded in-person conversation for online communications.  And the further away we got from showing hospitality to others the more anxious and awkward we felt when faced with the thought of letting others into our homes and our lives.

I get it because I’ve been there.  While we would have people over to our home every now and again, it could be weeks before we offered hospitality.  And then we moved to a small northern town that is very community-minded.  And people started showing up at the door, all the time.  They also invited us into their homes weekly.

And in the beginning, it wasn’t an easy adjustment for this introvert.  I had grown accustomed to being alone a lot of the time, and I liked it.  It felt safe.  No one could see all my flaws.  They couldn’t see my messy house after a busy day of homeschooling and working from home.  There was no one to judge that my house was old, and not Pinterest-worthy.

But you know what?  Even though I could avoid showing my flaws, I also was missing out on building some amazing friendships.  I was missing out on doing real life with people.  I was missing out on being a blessing to others, and I was also missing out on being blessed by the ones who entered my home.

It’s been a full year of opening our door multiple times a week, to people of all ages, and while there are still days I feel overwhelmed by it (mostly because I’m worried I won’t get my to-do list done, and that they might see the pile of laundry I didn’t get to yet in the laundry room that has no door) I’ve grown much more used to it.

It’s okay if hospitality makes you a little uncomfortable.  If you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas.

How to Show Hospitality to Others

Make a meal

Invite a family over and serve a meal.  I know that this can feel stressful with so many special diets these days but there are some easy go-tos for those who may have health concerns.  I like to make a big pot of chili for those who are dairy-free or gluten-free.  I serve it with toppings like corn chips, cheese, sour cream, and green onions.  Those who can eat the toppings do, and those who can’t can still enjoy the chili.  A bowl of fruit salad for dessert can easily be served to those with many special diets.

What about if you have someone at your house who is plant-based?  Squash soup and a side salad works easily.  

Serve coffee and dessert

There’s no written rule that says you have to always serve a meal to those who come over.  Serve coffee, tea, and dessert.   Dessert is optional, as well.  I have moms who will stop by and I offer tea and that’s it. People are there for your company, not your food.

Have a bonfire

This one is great for all ages.  We love to invite some families over and sit around the fire while the kids roast marshmallows and make s’mores.  After the children roast their marshmallows they will spend the rest of the time playing in the yard with the basketball net, jumping on the trampoline, or playing road hockey.

Make a welcome basket for guests

If you have overnight guests, you can make them up a cute little welcome basket.  A welcome basket can include things like little chocolates, washcloths, phone chargers, water bottles, and anything else you can think of that they might appreciate.  It’s that cute little added touch that will make your guests feel special.  It doesn’t need to be expensive though – even a few chocolates on their pillow will go a long way to say that you care.

Ask them questions about themselves

I always tell my kids when they are meeting someone new to ask them questions about themselves.  People love to talk about themselves and it can be hard to make conversation at the beginning.  It can feel awkward and unnatural.  But if you ask them things like where they work, if they have children, what they love to do, what book genre they read, where they grew up, and more you can usually get almost anyone to talk.  

It’s easy for us to talk about ourselves, and it’s okay to share stories about your own life, but make sure you are asking them questions about their life.  It’ll make them feel important and special.

Don’t forget about the kids

Whenever I go to someone’s house and they pay attention to my children it really touches my heart.  It’s easy for us to bypass the kids so we can focus on adult conversation, but parents notice when you love on their child as well.  It doesn’t have to be anything huge – just ask the kids how they are as well, and listen when they want to share something with you, and watch when they want to show you something.  And I mean, REALLY watch, don’t just pretend.

Show hospitality to kids separately as well

Hospitality isn’t just something we should extend to adults alone.  When kids knock on your door do you welcome them in as well?  Do you ask them if they’d like to stay for dinner?  For some kids their friend’s homes can be a safe place for them.  Wouldn’t you like it if that was your house?

As a child who needed a safe place for many reasons, I can tell you that the friends whose parents opened their door to me literally changed my life.  Now that I am a parent with a full and busy schedule I realize what sacrifices they made to continually have me over for dinner and sleepovers as well as picking me up and dropping me off dozens and dozens of times.

Not everyone is comfortable with sleepovers anymore and that’s okay.  You don’t need to do sleepovers to welcome children into your home.  Just let them come hang out, and maybe eat a meal with you.  Kids are worth investing in.

How to Show Christian Hospitality

In my opinion, Christian hospitality isn’t really different from regular hospitality.  In Christian hospitality you may offer to pray for your guests, but you can offer to pray for anyone if they are open to it, Christian or not.  You might share a devotional or a Bible reading together.  Biblical hospitality means you share hospitality with various people, not just your closest friends.  It also means offering hospitality without complaining and grumbling.  And let me tell you, I’ve had to and I still have to work on this one.  See my next point about this.

How to Maintain a Good Attitude when you Don’t feel up to Hospitality

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break, spending some time on your own or with just your family.  But if we continually have a bad attitude about hospitality, we may need to take a look at ourselves and how we can change that.  And I don’t say this as someone who has this part all together.  There are many times I need to offer up a quick prayer to God and say, “God, all I want to do is be alone today, but I know that’s not what you want for me so help me to see this for the blessing that it is.”

And you know what?  I don’t often regret welcoming people in.  Even on days I feel too tired or overwhelmed for it, somehow after they leave I always feel blessed and thankful for the conversation.  And when it’s kids at my door I often feel thankful for the blessing of their friendship to my children, and I am super thankful that we can be a house where they feel comfortable and happy to hang out at.

I know that my kids will most likely grow up and be thankful their parents let their friends hang out here, and will appreciate the fact that we had so many people visit over the years.  My hope and prayer for them is that they will continue to do the same when they have their own homes and their own families.

Is hospitality difficult for you?  Is it an area that you’d like to grow in?  I hope the above ideas will make hospitality at home a little less intimidating, and possibly even fun for you.  As time goes on it will get easier, and you may find little ways to show hospitality in everyday life, not just at home.  Bringing some baked goods to a friend, sharing a picnic in the park, visiting a friend who has a hard time getting out are all ways you can show hospitality to others in places besides your home.

I hope you feel a little more encouraged on how to practice hospitality and can look for opportunities in your own life to do so.


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