The hostesses at my favorite local restaurants are nice and all, but they rarely do more than hold the door open, ask how many are in my party and take my name. The “head hostess” rarely even seats me; she delegates that job to someone carrying crayons and a stack of menus who must be a sub-hostess or something.
That’s not the kind of hostess I’m going to be tomorrow night.
Our women’s ministry is having a huge Birthday Party for all the women in our church and their guests tomorrow night. No, we don’t live in some time warp where every woman has the same birthday; we’re just celebrating everyone’s birthday at once. Every woman will sit at a table with other women who have their birthday in the same month. In other words, everyone with a birthday in February, like me, will sit together. The February ladies will all enjoy a meal together at tables decorated in a theme appropriate to their month of the year, in this case the Olympics, because the Olympics are in February you see.
Except I won’t be sitting at the February table.
I get the honor of hostessing the January ladies. We were having trouble getting a hostess for January who had a birthday in that month, so I volunteered. And now I get to make it a special evening for those dear ladies.
So as I put last minute finishes on the decorations (our theme is A Cold Winter’s Night and I’m decorating by using an old brown quilt as a table cloth and using lots of yo yos for things like the name tags and all) and make sure we have all the elements for a good “comfort food” meal, I’ve also contemplated what kind of hostess I want to be.
My pre-party jobs have included inviting all the ladies with January birthdays to attend, arranging for the meal by asking each lady to bring her favorite comfort food, planning the decorations, and creating a special take-home “birthday gift” for each lady. I’m finishing up all those things today and will decorate my table tomorrow at 4:00. But my job doesn’t end there.
I know me and I know how stressed out I can get over things like this, trying to make every little detail just right. I’ve already bitten of more than I can feasibly handle with the gift I’m making for my ladies and now I have a few extra responsibilities tomorrow night because one of my fellow ministry team ladies can’t be there due to a family situation and I will need to do her job as well. I can let the stress mount and I’ll be a frazzled mess tomorrow night or I can get a grip and be a real hostess.
I’m determined to do more than make things look pretty and say hello. I’m going to show real hospitality.
I was raised by Mrs. Hospitality herself. My mom was not raised with the finer things in life, but she was raised to share what she had, to make other people feel special, and to serve others. When I was growing up in her home, she demonstrated true, biblical hospitality again and again. Whether we were having someone over for an impromptu bowl of soup and a game of cards or she was hostessing a grand buffet for our church staff, she always went to the nth degree to make everyone feel like she had been anticipating their arrival, like she had pulled out all the stops just for them.
But while my mom loves to set a pretty table using her best china and flowers fresh from her rose garden, she makes sure she has all those details taken care of far in advance so that when her guests arrive they become the focus of her attention. The lemons are sliced and in a crystal bowl, the food is warm and ready, the music is playing softly and the coffee is set to perk at the designated time. My mom is sitting down and ready to greet her guests with the apron long ago discarded and the nerves and frazzled plans replaced by hospitable anticipation.
And that’s the kind of hostess I want to be tomorrow night. Instead of worrying about whether everything looks just right, I want to be more concerned that each lady at my table feels welcomed and included. In fact I want each lady to feel like her arrival has been anticipated and her company is appreciated.
First Peter 4:9 says, “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” That may sound like an easy request, but anyone who has ever hosted a real shindig knows how hard it can be to show true hospitality without fretting and murmuring under your breath the whole time. I think the key is to focus on the right thing, don’t you? If I’m focused on whether the gladiolas in the center of my table are opened up enough or on whether everyone likes the gifts I made, I’ll end up being a grumpy, self-absorbed, frowny-faced hostess. But if I focus on helping each lady have an enjoyable evening then I’ll have more fun and they will too.
Decorating tables and preparing a feast are a piece of cake compared to showing true hospitality. Real hospitality, in fact, may mean serving a slightly burnt roast, forgetting to put the sliced lemons out, and dealing with a whiny kid in the middle of the meal, but still having your guests feel like they had the time of their lives. When a guest is able to overlook all the little snafus and still go home feeling like they’ve been loved on a little, the hostess has done her job.
Got any tricks for practicing true hospitality up your sleeve? I’d love to hear how you make your guests feel welcomed and anticipated. Or if you don’t do a lot of entertaining yourself, what makes you feel special as a guest? What have you experienced in the way of true hospitality that left you feeling warm and loved?
christy rose says
The birthday celebration for the women's ministry is a great idea. I think I will bring up that idea for our church. Thanks for the idea.
What makes me feel warm in someone's home is when they feel relaxed themselves and sit and enjoy my company, no so much waiting on me or decorating a certain way. I just love the "my home is your home attitude" 🙂
Wow, what a great idea. I look forward to attending the birthday event at Church on Friday evening. 🙂
The dishcloths look very CUTE!!! How nice and very generous of you! Thank you!!
If there is anything I can help with, please feel free to let me know: 520-335-6471 or 520-732-0964.
Have a blessed day,
Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side says
Sounds like a nice event! (But I'd never attempt all those dish towels.)
I love to have people over, although I haven't done much of that lately. Too busy, I guess. I really think it puts people at ease if you don't worry about the dirty dishes in the sink, and just sit and talk with them. I always put the cleaning up off until my guests leave.
I love the towels! I just know you will get them finished! I have enjoyed the hospitality of both you and your mother. You are both beautiful hostesses! Have a wonderful party! Happy, early birthday to you!
Amy V. says
Kay, I think the yo-yo towels are charming. The ladies at your table are sure to love them!!
You know, I always want everything to be "just so" when company is coming. Moreover, I can't relax at all unless it's a good friend who has been here a thousand times and has seen my house in its many degrees of messiness.
I wish I could offer up some wonderful tips for true hospitality, but I'm desperate for some tricks of the trade myself. Thanks so much for sharing the story of your mother's hospitality. It's encouraging to worry warts like me. Take care and be blessed, Kay!
Hi Kay, I just wanted to let all your readers know that the girls sitting at the January table LOVED the towels and you were the best hostess of all. Immediately when I got home I hung the towel on my oven door. My daughter wants one to wrap her baby dolls in. Your mother has taught you well. Kay also made beautiful name tags with the yo-yos on them. Thanks again for all that you do for the ladies at church. Jen