How to Welcome Guests at your Home

It isn’t always easy to open our doors to others, but learning how to make someone feel comfortable in your home is a blessing not only to them, but to yourself.  Today we are going to talk about how to be more welcoming.

Welcoming guests

I’ve got a confession to make.

As early as just over a year ago I didn’t love hospitality.

Oh, I’d invite people for dinner every few weeks, but it could literally be weeks before another person was in my home.

And that’s the way I liked it.  Peaceful.  Quiet. On my terms and in my control.

And then God decided I needed stretching, or maybe He wanted to build my character a little more, or maybe he just wanted a good laugh.

I’m not really sure which one it is.

But we moved 7 hours away, bought an in-town house, and the day we moved in we had a ton of people over to help us move.

And the revolving door hasn’t stopped since.

Rarely a day goes by when no one is at my house.  Kids, neighbors, friends – they all come.  And while I’m not going to say the transition was easy (it was anything BUT for this introvert) I knew I wanted my house to be the place where the door was always open.  I wanted my kids to feel safe and enjoy hanging out at our home with their friends.  I wanted friends to know they were welcome, despite the mess they sometimes walk into.

For those of us who haven’t done this our whole lives, the very thought of opening our door regularly can induce anxiety.  But I am telling you, we make it harder in our heads than it really is to invite others into our lives.  What makes a home comfortable is not as complicated as we’ve made it out to be, especially in today’s world. 

The truth is, people don’t need a lot to be happy in your home.  After almost two years of isolation for many one of the lessons we learned is just how vital community is.  We NEED people.  And no, zoom calls don’t cut it.  If you’ve been wondering to yourself, “how do I make my home entertaining?” keep reading.  When company gives you anxiety, there are solutions that can help you.

HOW TO MAKE SOMEONE FEEL COMFORTABLE IN YOUR HOME

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Before we get into it, let me just preface this with saying that the ideas here will be for adults and kids.  Because if you are like me you might have a good mix of adults AND kids at your house on any given day.  

Have snacks on hand.

You know what people like to do?  Eat.  You know what kids and teens especially love to do? EAT!

Having snacks on hand doesn’t have to be complicated.  It’s as easy as you want it to be.  Maybe you like to bake and you can stick some baked goods in your freezer, but if that’s not your thing, no one will turn their nose up at store bought snacks (and if they do, well, it’s probably not the people you want over anyways!)

A few of the easiest snacks I’ve found the keep on hand for kids coming over are freezies, watermelon, popsicles, granola bars, and popcorn.  Popcorn is my go-to when my cupboards are empty before a grocery shop and I love to use these seasonings to spice it up for the kids.  You can always whip up a batch of popcorn when unexpected guests come over.

Serve tea or coffee.

I generally don’t put a pot of coffee on when people come over because I don’t drink it so I don’t really make a good cup of coffee.  But I always have plenty of herbal teas on hand for anyone who wants one.  It’s extremely simple to put on a pot of water, and most people drink herbal teas with nothing in them, so it’s a very easy way to make your home a comfortable place with little effort.

Keep meals simple.

Meals don’t need to be complicated.  If I am feeding people, I like to serve things that don’t take a lot of effort.  A big pot of chili, burgers and hot dogs on the grill, or homemade pizza are some of my favorites.  You don’t need to serve appetizers.  I usually have a dessert on hand (but I’ve bought dessert instead of making it when I just didn’t have time or energy to bake) but every now and again I’ll serve dinner without dessert if it’s people that I’ve had over quite frequently and am pretty comfortable with them.  

I remember going over to someone’s house for lunch and they served our family macaroni and cheese from a box, and chips and it was just as enjoyable as when we go somewhere and are served a full, made from scratch meal because the company we enjoy when invited over is really what makes the food taste delicious in my opinion.

If you are looking for a list of cheap meals to make for when company comes over, check out this post.

Have cheap, boredom busters on hand for kids.

My kids aren’t super young anymore, but we often have young kids here.  Some things I’ve bought to keep young kids busy are bubbles, chalk, massive sheets of paper and coloring utensils.  We also get things like stickers from time to time.

For the older kids we’ve equipped our yard with a basketball net (we were able to get an old one from a friend that wasn’t using it anymore) a trampoline, a hockey net and hockey sticks.  For indoor fun we have a steady stream of board games.  We have a small house and yet kids are rarely bored here.  It shocks me, really but kids don’t need a fancy place, they just need things to keep them busy.

Accept that stuff is replaceable, and things will break from time to time.

I joke that we don’t have nice stuff.  That isn’t true, of course, but most of our finds in our home have been bought second-hand.  While we have taught our kids to treat things with respect, we also understand that things break and it really is JUST stuff.  We can’t take it with us when we die.  So we won’t get mad at a child who accidentally breaks something.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t certain things my kids might put away when others come over.  We have taught our kids that sharing is important, but that it’s okay to put a few things away for safe keeping.  Which leads me to my next point.

Close certain bedroom doors/rooms and keep them off limits.

This rule helps me welcome people into our home more often.  I keep my bedroom room door closed most of the time (because, in full disclosure, it’s the place things get dumped and often is a mess) but we also keep our kids bedroom doors closed. 

We don’t have many toys in their rooms, but in a separate room so there is no need for kids to be hanging in their room.  While my teenage daughter sometimes has her friends hang out in her room, we often have mixed company at our house and so usually it’s just an easier option to have the doors closed and bedrooms off limits.  

Practice cleaning hacks, but also be okay with some mess.

I have three kids and a busy household, so there’s often some kind of disarray in our home.  I’ve had to accept that if I open up my home to unexpected visitors, chances are they are going to see the mess.  I’ve learned not to panic over it, and the truth is, most people don’t care that your home isn’t perfectly tidy at all times.  They get that you are doing life in your house.

That being said, I don’t want my home to look disgusting, and I’ve learned some cleaning hacks over the years.  Here’s a few things you can do if you’ve discovered company is coming over and you have very little time to prepare.  Some of these things can even be done if they just show up at your door unexpectedly.

  • If guests show up at your door and it’s a tornado inside and your husband is around, have your husband meet them outside (this really only works when it isn’t winter, though) and chat with them for five to ten minutes on the porch or in the backyard while you rush around the house tossing things into cupboards or closets or bedrooms.  
  • Close the bedroom doors.
  • Dishes stacked on your counter?  Fill a sink full of hot, soapy water and toss a bunch of dishes in there.  It looks like you are in the middle of dishes, hides some of the dirty ones, and makes your kitchen smell soapy and clean!
  • If you have a laundry room without a door (like I do), toss any clothes on the floor into the washing machine.
  • If you have kids, have them do a two-minute tidy where they quickly run around the living room and kitchen and pick up anything that is theirs and they bring it to their rooms.
  • Light a candle or turn on an essential oil diffuser.  A nice smelling house makes everything better!

WELCOMING GUESTS INTO YOUR HOME DOESN’T HAVE TO GIVE YOU ANXIETY

Our society has become a place where it’s the norm to NOT open our doors, to keep to ourselves, and avoid hospitality.  As an introvert I get how easy it can be to do that.  But it’s really a blessing to yourself and to others when you welcome guests into your home.  I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and offer hospitality to those around you when the opportunity arises.  You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

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