A Hospitality Mindset
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I have a dedicated guest room now, but even when I didn’t, I expected to show hospitality, and planned for it, because God has commanded me in His Word to “practice hospitality.” I love it, partly because I do it often and have prepared for it to be as easy as possible, and partly, I suppose, because it is a gift. However, I’m not gifted at every part of it, so I work to make up for that lack. There are ways:)
In this post, I hope to encourage you and show you how you can be prepared to show and practice hospitality. With practice, you will get better at it, and it will become easier. That’s probably one reason God told us to practice it! Then, you will enjoy it more, too. But, in any case, tell the Lord you’re available. Whatever space you have, whatever you have to share, share it!
I view hospitality as making a place, an atmosphere, an experience, that will be used of God to soothe, comfort, encourage, help and heal. There is always an expectation in my heart that God will use it for His purposes in the lives of those who come into my home. Whatever He wants to do, I am facilitating.
We often have families with small children stay with us. It occurred to me that our having a Pack-n-Play and a highchair might really be a blessing to them. When traveling, having these conveniences in the home that you’re staying in, just make it so much easier. If you can think through what the needs of those staying with you are, and anticipate them, you will be a huge blessing to your guests.
Praying is part of my preparation, first, that we will be usable for His purposes, and secondly, that our home will be used of Him, and then, that He will lead our conversation, (sometimes a hurt is shared that we can pray about with the guest, or at least show compassion about) and bless our guests through us. The aim is always to show the love of Christ to anyone who comes through our door.
Preparing to Show Hospitality
Prepared for any eventuality is the goal of my preparation–being ready, so that if I get unexpected company, it will not throw me for a loop. However, that is not always possible, so the key, if you get guests you did not expect, is to remember that they are way more important than what your house looks like, or what your plans were. Swallow your pride. Be flexible. Be a servant.
Make them feel wanted, loved, and take care of their needs in the best way possible. Not making them feel that they have totally inconvenienced you, but rather that it is an honor to have them. That is my aim. Thinking ahead to prepare for drop-in guests and having your home picked up pretty much, or the parts that guests would see, helps. Involve your children in every aspect of keeping your home ready for guests, with the mindset of showing love to others.
Planning and thinking ahead is really key to all of hospitality. Having the bedding washed and back on the bed, or readily available, and knowing where it is. Something in the freezer made ahead, or that you can prepare quickly and easily. Keeping baskets ready or out with items guests will need. Even if you don’t have a dedicated guest room, you can have all the elements ready to pull out and put to use, very quickly.
Bless Your Guests and Then Repeat
I try not to reinvent the wheel every time I do something. Almost all my guests get the same breakfast, but they don’t know that, or care! Not at all a morning person, I make an eggbake the day or night before. That works the best for me. Granola, canned mandarin oranges and yogurt are almost always on hand, to make parfaits, which looks like I fussed, but is super easy, or I’ll just set it out for them to choose which to have. There’s an assortment of teas ready in a tea coffin, honey, milk, juice, coffee, water. Another habit I have is setting the table the night before for any company eating at my house, whatever meal they’re having. That’s assuming I know they’re coming:)
I believe that guests feel the most comfortable when I treat them like family. So, I don’t hesitate to show them where the cups and silverware are, and I tell them to help themselves to water, coffee (which I have made and have ready), tea, etc. I also don’t hesitate to ask for their help with meal preparation, in simple ways. Especially when it’s another woman, it gives us a good chance to visit. I try to have most of the meal prep ready, so there isn’t a mad rush, or a lot to do after they come, if coming for dinner. And, with the breakfast eggbake, there isn’t a lot to do in the morning, either. My husband is a big help in the morning, because he IS a morning person:)
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Making My Guest Room Inviting
When we have a number of guests, we set up air mattresses, and all the guests sleeping in the lower level share the one bathroom. There is a shower. The main bathroom upstairs is a full bath. Downstairs, our guests have the whole lower level to themselves. There is a separate counter area, with a sink, outside the area with the toilet and shower, so more than one person can be using the space. I place the bath towels and handtowels on the counter, in plain sight, but when smaller numbers are staying, I either hang them on the bar, or put them in a basket. I also have a basket with washcloths. There is a mirror above the sink.
I know that a guest doesn’t want to have to scavenge for what they need. So, I try to put everything they’ll need out in plain sight, but as attractively as possible. I like baskets. I use them for towels, toilet paper, magazines, first aid items, bottled water, to hold blankets and throws and just for decoration!
The lower level has a little living room, with two sections on either side of it. I divide the long room into sections, with furniture dividing each, in order to give the feeling of privacy and a “room” where each of the air mattresses are placed, when we have large groups stay with us. This also works with large families. When we have had couples, as well as single guys and gals, I put the single guys on sofas, separate from where the girls are sleeping. The girls have a room upstairs, with a door they can close. The couples are in the guest room, the bedroom with the queen bed, and also sometimes, when I’ve had a lot of guests at once, on an air mattress. The guests may choose where they’d like to sleep, though I usually figure out ways that it will work, and have suggestions ready.
My guest room changes from time to time. I have new curtains, since the photos above were taken. Same color, but room darkening, at the suggestion of our married daughter, after she stayed here. She has taken the cedar chest that is in the photo above, so now I put the Pack-n-Play there when it’s needed.
I have added to what I have made available for guests over the years. As I’ve traveled, and stayed at Airbnbs and in other people’s homes, I’ve noticed what was really nice to have available! When possible, I’ve added that to my Guest Room. A few years ago, I researched online, and read others’ lists of what to have in a guest room. Then, I added some of the items I now have out. I’ve prayed, and asked God to help me make our Guest Room and home a blessing to others.
Here are the things (eventually) that I think are helpful and inviting for you to include in a Guest Room:
- Comfortable bed ready with clean sheets, and extra pillows
- Bedside tables on both sides of the bed
- Extra blankets and quilts, on the end of the bed, or the location shown to guests
- WiFi password printed out on a card
- Alarm clock/radio, with lighted dial
- Power strip to plug in and charge all their electronics
- Room-darkening curtains
- A folder of information about your area: nearby grocery store, drugstore, mall or shopping area, restaurants, attractions unique to your area and distance from your house, parks within walking distance (especially with play area for children), things to do in each season. Information about any other amenities that you offer: cable TV, stereo, CDs, DVDs, remotes, where breakfast items are, or what time breakfast will be served. Ask guests (ahead, if possible) if they have food allergies or sensitivities, too, and plan for that, if you can, and if they prefer coffee (black or with cream and sugar?), or tea. I always have sugar cubes available (they last a long time), and sometimes use creamers (regular and french vanilla). Otherwise, just milk will do.
- Lamp(s) by the bed
- Folding suitcase stand (the kind I have–and I love it–is pictured below)
- Dresser with empty drawers for longer stays
- Space in the closet to hang things, if they desire
- A full length mirror
- Magazines, notecards, sticky notes, pens, stamps, highlighters
- First Aid items in a basket on the dresser (cough medicine, tylenol, or advil, bandaids, an ace bandage, etc.)
- A good book with a spiritual message on the bedstand
- Bottled water in the bedroom; sometimes snacks, depending on the circumstances of the guests, sometimes dark chocolate, if I remember:)
Extras That I’ve Provided In the Bathroom for Guests
We are blessed at this time to have a dedicated guest room, with a bathroom they don’t have to share. These are the items that are in the bathroom area for our guests:
My favorite brand of towels is Hotel Collection. They don’t fall apart and last for years, looking and feeling nice wash after wash. They’re a little more expensive, but they’re worth it.
- Hand lotion
- Extra toilet paper in a basket on the floor
- Shampoo, body wash and soap in the shower
- Bath and Hand Towels and washcloths
- Hooks and towel bar for their used towels
- A small pitcher for water, and a glass
- A clock on the wall
- A basket with items guests may have forgotten, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hand shaver, etc.
The most important thing to remember in showing hospitality, is that your guest is important, and loved by Christ. Whatever you may have available, or not available, whatever preparation you may have done, or forgotten to do, or wish you could have done, whatever confidence or insecurity you feel, is not the important thing. Your guest is. Focus on them. Serve them. Use what you have. They won’t remember what food you served, or what you forgot, but they will remember the love you showed. Believe me. Be a tool in God’s Hands to bless your guests. Be available. Be open to love those who enter your home. Practice true hospitality.