What 1,000 Miles Teaches about Hospitality

by Ashley on April 9, 2012

I live half a continent away from most of my family. My nearest relatives live three states away, and one of those states is Texas. I’ll let you do the math.

Because of the distance to my East Coast family (1,308.43 miles on the quickest route, according to Mapquest), several of my friends have become like family to me. One set of friends welcome us into their home for most major holidays. Another friend has been closer than a brother, always with an open door.

Since we’ve lived in Texas, I don’t think a holiday has passed that we didn’t have an invitation from someone to join in the celebration. Family is stuck with inviting you over for holidays even if they don’t like you, but friends get off the hook. They have an excuse: Gotta invite their own family (whether they like them or not). So my friends’ generosity highlights all the more my disinclination toward hospitality.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not opposed to it and I would welcome any of my friends into my home. But I am not a frequent hostess, mostly because of insecurity in my ability to entertain. I get nervous that I won’t be able to make my guests comfortable, or that I won’t know what to do once they’re at my house.

In watching friends who open their home to us often, I have noticed a few constants:

1. They are comfortable

When we visit friends, either for a holiday or just to hang out for the evening, they are perfectly comfortable with us there. It always amuses me when anyone apologizes that the house is a mess, because I never, ever care about that. Which makes me realize that real friends won’t care about my messes either.

2. They don’t fuss over us

To compensate for what I think is lacking on my part, I might be overly hospitable when friends visit. I get that from my mom, who practically forces food on anyone who walks in the door. Instead, inviting my friends to make themselves comfortable may be the easiest way to achieve my goal.

3. I make myself at home

With my closest friends, I make myself at home. And with my closest friends, that seems to be perfectly acceptable. For guests in my house, I’m going to step back and let them get cozy there. I’ll be more relaxed and less worried about whether they’re comfortable, which, I hope, will accomplish just that.

Besides my desire to be a better hostess, we are expected to practice hospitality. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

Perhaps hospitality is not my greatest gift, but I know my true friends will forgive whatever shortcomings I have in that department. And as they always say (whoever “they” are): Practice makes perfect.

So, I’ll try to do better with the invitations. But even if I don’t, anyone reading this is welcome and encouraged to invite yourself over for dinner sometime. We have an extra bed ready for you, too.

And anyone who thinks it’s creepy that I just invited unknown visitors to spend the night, I refer you here: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2. (Maybe it’s still a little creepy. At least call first, OK?)

Do you have any good tips for being a hospitable hostess?



Gosh, I could have written this, Ashley – love having friends over, but organising it can sometimes give me conniptions. I’m much better with spur of the moment, messy arrangements where there are few expectations. 🙂

by Sharon Hurley Hall on April 9, 2012 at 10:32 am. Reply #

That’s the best thing, Sharon – the impromptu get-togethers. Thankfully, most of my friends aren’t too picky or fussy about those kinds of things!

by Ashley on April 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm. Reply #

My only tip: have fun with it. We rarely entertain, for reasons similar to yours. We also live 90 minutes from all my family and most of my friends, so it’s easier for us to go to them. But when we do have people over, I 1) clean (easier said than done) and 2) put in extra effort with food and beverages. We’re not “foodies” but there are a few stores where I live that have unique offerings, so I try to get things my friends/family won’t get at home. It seems appreciated and my few ventures into the world of hosting have gone well. 🙂

by Tracy on April 9, 2012 at 10:56 am. Reply #

I LOVE to cook, so I should rely on that more often. Maybe that would make me more confident with hosting. And maybe that would encourage them to overlook the other things I’m not as good at 😉

by Ashley on April 9, 2012 at 9:07 pm. Reply #

Great article! I love surrounding myself with friends… everything seems to be better with your friends there. I would suggest to just keep inviting people over, before you know it, it will be like driving.

by Jeff Wheatcraft on April 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm. Reply #

You make it seem effortless. I suppose it is for you and Aimee! But I hope you’re wrong about it being like driving; that’s the most unpleasant thing I can think of 😉

by Ashley on April 14, 2012 at 8:54 am. Reply #

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