I grew up with a very talented mother who has always strived to have a hospitable house. She is a “stager” for some real estate agents (which means she is a pro at making homes presentable for selling) and has always just had that natural eye for making a home feel like home…even if you are just visiting…
From the moment you pull up in the driveway, you feel as if you have stepped into another world…a world of tranquility and simpler times.
In the winter, the long driveway is always freshly scooped and I just know the fireplace is crackling and ready to greet me inside.
In the spring and summer you are in for a special treat. You will be greeted with an assortment of flower gardens and areas to relax in the shade with a fresh glass of lemonade. Thanks to my step-dad, the lawn is always manicured like a golf course!
As you enter the house, my mother always has the guest room set up in a way you can tell she took that extra care to prepare it just right for you!
I can always count on my favorite coffee creamer in the refrigerator and a cup with my name on it by the kitchen sink.
For all of these reasons, I LOVE to visit my mother!
Now, I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, “Wow! You’ve had such a great example! I’m sure you follow in her footsteps!”
In a lot of ways, I do and that’s something I’m proud of! I love to decorate. I keep a fairly tidy house. I love to plant flowers and prune them when needed. I absolutely love sitting outside and reading a nice magazine while I enjoy the serenity around me!
However, there is one thing that makes the task of hospitality more difficult in my situation-KIDS!
If you are a parent, particularly a mother, you know how much of a struggle it can be just to keep the house from catching on fire some days! You mean, I’m supposed to have flower gardens and cups with names for my guests too?
I was at a friend’s house the other night for a girls movie night. I was in the restroom washing my hands when it dawned on me…something just felt good. It felt welcoming and inviting. I looked around and I realized this house had no kids! She had that freedom to decorate how she wants. I guess I do too-my kids have never been ones to break stuff. But, let’s face it, it’s just different. For one thing, her entertainment center didn’t have Lego Dimensions and Disney Infinity on it. Rather, it had pretty decor which complimented the house just perfectly. So homey.
What struck me most was how she could actually clean a bathroom and have it STAY THAT WAY long enough for her guests to come and actually witness the hard work that went into making it look so nice!
When you are a mother to young kids, hospitality is just different. At least for me, expectations are way less. It’s understandable to have a few toys sitting out and maybe a laundry basket of clothes which hasn’t made its way into their closets yet. It’s okay to love the mess. To live in the mess. To embrace the mess. A little bit of “we live here” is okay. However, tripping over Legos and finding Thomas the Train in your bed sheets is not okay when you have guests.
Having kids is no excuse to not be hospitable.
When you have guests come to your house, they deserve to feel special. A few simple touches can go a long way in making them feel welcomed.
A majority of the preparing is basic house cleaning. Stuff most of us do weekly or even daily anyway. If you keep up with that, then being a hospitable host should be a breeze since the hardest part (cleaning your home) will already be accomplished!
Here is my go-to list for when I have company coming:
- Kitchen space: If you have a dishwasher especially, this should be an easy task. Start with unloading your dishwasher and putting EVERYTHING away. Re-load the dishwasher with any dirty dishes you have sitting around-don’t forget to check the living room and your nightstand for that glass of water from last night! Next, wipe off the counters and toss any clutter (unnecessary mail, coupons etc). Wiping out the microwave is also a quick task (which I dread) but needs to be done!
- Restrooms: All restrooms MUST be cleaned. This is a space your company is going to be spending time alone and will be prone to noticing dirty areas (unless they have a magazine to distract them-haha. Maybe stick a Newspaper in there). Toilet paper should be stocked and extra rolls easy to find. Clean towels and wash cloths should be easily available. Also, plenty of shampoo, conditioner and should be stocked in the shower. I also like to have a few disposable razors, toothbrushes, mouthwash and other toilette items they may have forgotten or not have been able to pack for plane travel.
- Living spaces: All major clutter should be out of sight. Gather up as much as you can. If you don’t have time to put it all away where it belongs, at least have it gathered up in a laundry basket or tote and out of site for the time being. I may or may not have hidden some dirty dishes in my oven once when I was dating my now husband. He showed up early to pick me up one night and I had a heaping pile of dishes in my sink. Hiding them out of sight in the oven seemed like the perfect solution at the time. I eventually, told him of my “quick clean up strategy” and now, he teases me about it constantly! This by no means is a fool-proof solution that I recommend. But, once the clutter is picked up, run a quick pass with the vacuum and/or broom (love my Roomba for this).
Once you have a majority of the house ready to go, it is time to focus on the guest quarters. This area of the house is perhaps the most important area to focus on. This is their “home away from home” and should feel warm and inviting.
If you are lucky and have a guest bedroom, your space should be mostly set up already (assuming you use it for a guest bedroom).
However, if you are like ME and live in base housing with very limited space…you go for plan B. My guests usually are invited to use my daughters bedroom as their own space. I always have clean FRESH SMELLING sheets as well as several pillows and blankets for them to choose from. I make sure there is a fan, alarm clock, trash can, place for them to put their luggage and also space in the closet (with hangers) for them to hang anything they may want to hang up. I also go the extra step and gather up a bulk of the toys and remove them so my guests have more space for their own belongings and don’t TOTALLY feel like they are sleeping in an enchanted Disney Castle.
I’ve recently added a power cord to my list of “must have’s” for the guest quarters. With everyone having so many electronics, I’ve found this to be a great addition! Guests can now charge their laptops, phones, MP3 players etc all at once and easily.
Speaking of electronics…what about wi-fi? I stayed with one of my besties for a while and she had a super cute sign in the guest room with the wifi password for me! She also had a “welcome” sign that she would write the guests names on (with a dry erase marker on the glass). Talk about genius! She always inspires me! She even digs up this picture for me to show you even though it’s 12:15am because she is just that awesome!
Another SUPER important thing you can do to prepare for company and be hospitable is to have your refrigerator stocked.
We live in Hawaii. So, for us, a lot of our meals are spread around the island enjoying the many local restaurants the island has to offer. So, I don’t typically have MEALS prepped for guests (well, besides meals I have meal prepped and frozen for my family. They can be taken out and used at any time). However, healthy snacks and “grab and go” beach food is a must for us. I also have breakfast items since people tend to wake up on their own schedule. I keep plenty of bagels, greek yogurt/granola, fresh fruit and of course COFFEE! I mean, who can fly a million time zones away and wake up without coffee?
As you can see, I’ve mentioned pretty simple things we can do to make our guests feel like we appreciate them coming. Going that extra step can really make their stay memorable in a good way!
I mentioned 3 different homes that I felt were homey and the hosts were very hospitable. They were 3 very different home styles with 3 very different hosts and located in 3 completely different areas of the US. However, they all had the things I spoke about above in common. They all have me wanting to come back because I felt special and welcomed! That’s MY goal in being a host!
Hospitality can mean so many different things to different people. I was prompted today with one word to write about: “hospitality.” To me…THIS is hospitality!
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To see what others think “hospitality” means to them, check this out:Hospitality