Hubby and I counted up the other day and since the beginning of March, we have had overnight guests in our home for twenty-seven nights. Living overseas changes company a little bit– when family and friends come from the States, they don’t just come for an overnight, they come and stay several nights. Well, would you fly over the ocean for a quick weekend trip?
I am not a perfect hostess, and have a lot more to learn about hospitality, but here are a few ideas I’ve picked up on in the past few months of visitors…
- Don’t assume everyone will make themselves at home— even if you tell them to. This is not a commonplace idea in every place — that guests should just go to your fridge and get a drink if they’re thirsty, or grab a new towel from the cabinet if they need one. It’s fine to tell your company to make themselves at home while in your home, but be mindful that not everyone is comfortable with this. I suggest a combo effort– make them feel welcome enough to help themselves, but be gracious enough to offer drinks, new towels, the TV remote, access to your internet, and snacks more than once– so they don’t feel uncomfortable.
- Include your guests in your family life. Just because you have guests doesn’t mean that your bedtime or mealtime rituals should change. Continue on as usual and allow your company to be a part if they should choose to. Pray before meals, have Friday night pizza dinner, read bedtime stories, and have evening family chats as normal. Keeping things regular will help you and your kids feel more at ease, and I guarantee your guests will not feel at all “put out”.
- Be ready to be flexible with your (and your kids’) schedule. Keeping things as normal as possible is great, but not always feasible when company is in town. Maybe you’re out and about and get the baby down late for a nap. Maybe you eat out with company more than you usually would dine out. Maybe you get home late one night and need to skip a bath. It’s really OK. As soon as your guests are gone, you can resume life as usual– don’t miss out on enjoying face-time with loved ones for the sake of your schedule.
- Allow your guests to return the favor. When your company leaves, they are not going to hand you a credit card to cover the expenses accrued during their stay (if they are, disregard this post– you’re running a bed and breakfast, not a home!) Of course you don’t expect them to pay you back for your hospitality, but most likely they will offer a barter of sorts. Maybe you’ll be visiting near their home soon and they’d like to reciprocate lodging and meals? Maybe one night they offer to keep your kids while you and your husband enjoy a meal out? (This is my personal favorite way to barter!) Maybe they want to pick up the tab while you’re getting some things from the grocery store, or when you eat a meal out? Please, let them! You don’t have to be super-human-do-it-all-yourself-martyr-of-a-hostess, and relationships are built on these kinds of give and takes.
- Have fun! Since we’ve moved so far away, the time we spend with loved ones is so much more savored and appreciated! Even if you’re close in distance to family, and friends, don’t neglect enjoying the time you can host them in your home. Make it your goal to smile about the memories you created together while they were under your roof.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace… (1 Peter 4:8-10)