In a previous post i defined “openhomeaphobia.” I can attest that the following 20 remedies, if applied, are a sure cure.
- No matter what, always warmly greet people at the door.
- NEVER apologize for the condition of your house.
- If you are insecure with hospitality, be as SIMPLE as possible. Do coffee and dessert. Hold a pie party and have the bakers in the group bring the pies. Serve baked potatoes with toppings and a salad. Have a soup-pantry supper; serve from pans off the stove.
- Hold a potluck. Have everyone who comes bring something.
- Plan a leftovers party. Have guests share their leftovers and add them to yours. Ask, “What’s in the refrigerator? This is what’s in mine.”
- ALWAYS accept people’s offer to help.
- Never do an in-depth cleaning before people come. Just pick up, light candles, put out flowers. Clean after they go!
- Bring people home after church. Let them set the table. Serve pancakes. Serve french toast. Serve waffles.
- Extend hospitality as a team. Team with your husband. Team with your housemate. Team with friends. Team with church members.
- Pray before you invite anyone to your home. Ask God to provide the guest list. Invite Christ to be the Premier Guest. Prepare as though Christ was coming; treat everyone as though he/she was Christ.
- Develop a list of standard conversational questions to rely on. Think about each guest before he/she comes. Try to decide upon one thing you really want to know about him/her.
- Include some element of silliness, like holding an evening when everyone brings one funny story to tell. Or, eat the meal backwards, begin with dessert.
- Hold a “craving potluck.” Everyone brings something he/she really craves. Do this without preplanning.
- Organize a work-together exchange: “We’ll help you with this home project if you’ll help us with this home project.”
- When children are invited, build some part of the event around them. Then everyone participates in the activities. Everyone plays musical chairs. Everyone dances (even with the toddler) around the player piano.
- Do things for the purpose of healing and welcoming, not to impress. What kind of background music will soothe people after a busy day, a busy week? What is something nice you can put on the table for a centerpiece?
- Figure out some follow-up. Most likely, people will not write thank you notes. Can you call and tell them how much you enjoyed their being in your home? Can you write a note?
- Make SURE everyone is introduced. Don’t assume people know one another. This can be done informally, but in larger groups it is better to have everyone tell his/her name and one thing about themselves.
- Declare the purpose of the evening; “We invited you tonight so you could have an opportunity to get to know one another better.”
- It is perfectly appropriate to set time limits. Invite people for dinner from 6:30 to 10:30. You can say (as you stand), “Well this has been a wonderful evening (afternoon, breakfast) but many of you have busy schedules tomorrow, as do we, so we don’t want to go late, but we want to tell you before you leave how much we have loved having you all in our home.”
Try any of these. Let me know about your “openhomeaphobia” cures. Respond in the comments section that follows.
Other projects involving Karen right now are: Working with teams of Christian women to design Retreats of Silence, in both 24-hours and three-days formats, through the aegis of Hungry Souls. Developing hospitality initiatives that train Christian men and women how to use their own homes in caring outreaches through the Open Heart, Open Home ministries. Launching the Global Bag Project, a worldwide effort that markets sustainable cloth shopping bags to provide sustainable incomes for bag-makers in developing nations. Researching the impact of listening groups while overseeing some 240 small groups over the last three years. Experimenting with teleconference mentoring for Wannabe (Better) Writers. Designing the Tales of the Kingdom Web site.