Ten Ways to Make Your Home More Hospitable

April 21, 2011


By Bill Boerman-Cornell

[Ed. note: This article is part of our weekly series of resources for communities, churches and families called Cultivating Community published on Thursdays.]

Ten Ways to Make Your Home More Hospitable

  1. Lower your standards of clutter control. We used to fear inviting people over out of concern that we didn’t have time to clean the house.  After some reflection we realized two important things.  First, if we wait until we have time to clean the house, we will never invite anyone over.  Second, it wasn’t that our house was unclean-just kind of cluttered.  Sweep all the junk mail off the table into a box, hide it in the basement and you are good to go.
  2. When guests are coming over, plan meals that are exciting and boring at the same time. Spicy chicken chili and homemade bread; jambalaya and corn bread; Indonesian nasi goreng and homemade applesauce-this allows both those with broad-minded taste buds and less adventurous taste buds to eat their fill.
  3. Invite people over at least four times. Some people say no the first couple of times out of politeness, or because they think you are not serious.
  4. Invite your friends to bring their friends who aren’t your friends (yet). We have met so many cool people this way.
  5. Live along a major highway. Our house is ten minutes off I-80/294.  People we know have to pass by our house a lot.  It is a good excuse to stop.
  6. Let people know that it is okay to stop by without a lot of advanced notice. We let people know that if we aren’t home, we won’t answer the phone, and if we are too busy, we tell them that, too.  At the same time, don’t wait until you aren’t too busy-because that ain’t gonna happen.
  7. It is easier to include one or two more if you are usually feeding a big number in the first place. There are four adults and five children living in our house.  We have a minimum of nine people eating dinner any given night.  One or two more doesn’t affect the amount of food we are preparing much.
  8. Don’t work too much. Two of us work full time, two of us work part time.  We all have at least part of the year when we have some flexibility about when we work.  This allows us to cook.
  9. Have guests join in food preparation and table clearing. This might sound inhospitable, but it actually helps guest to feel like part of the family-at least, that’s how we rationalize it.
  10. If guests are coming over and you are too tired to cook, order out. Having someone over is mostly about the discussion and the joy of spending time sitting down together.  Chicken chili is better than the local pizzeria, but local pizza is better than not getting together.

[Originally published in Catapult magazine]

Bill Boerman-Cornell is a Professor of Education at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois.   He lives in South Holland, Illinois in a loud and hospitable home with his wife, their two kids, his sister-in law and  brother- in-law, their three kids, two rabbits, one turtle, and several fish and snails.

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