Question: How do you balance your time hosting others at your house vs. visiting with them?
Oh! I love this question and as I read it I could not help but think of Mary & Martha! If you do not know the story of Mary & Martha, it is found in Luke 10:38-42. Mary & Martha were sisters and when Jesus and his disciples were coming through town, they invited them in. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to all of His teachings while Martha spent time trying to get everything ready for the guests! Martha tells Jesus to get her sister to help her because she doesn’t want to do all the work herself and Jesus replies “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Whew! That gets me! You are worried and upset about many things but few things are needed. I’ll be honest, I fall into the “worried and upset about many things but not the important things” camp too often. That being said, I try to be really intentional not to fall into that camp. When people are over, I want them to feel valued, seen, heard, and loved. I don’t want to be so busy doing all the things to make it Pinterest worthy or overdo the menu and not get time with the people. Here are my tips for balancing your time hosting others at your house vs. visiting with them:
Okay, so this is huge! Do as much as you can before people arrive. This is not always possible (like if you are hosting Christmas and they are there all day) but no matter what the situation is, you can get a lot done beforehand. Cleaning, planning, prepping food, even cooking. We made pizza for dinner the other night with some friends. Before they came over we picked up the house, set out the beers, prepped the toppings, preheated the ovens, and started rolling out the dough. When they arrived, a lot of work was already done so we got to chat in the kitchen while we finished up and threw them in the oven.
Make sure the bathrooms that are easiest to find are clean, the hosting areas are clean & tidy, and empty trash cans/ recycling bins.
LET THINGS BE
When guests arrive, stop the tidying. It doesn’t matter anymore. Let the sink be the place for the dinner plates and dessert coffee mugs. There is no reason to be cleaning dishes, folding blankets, putting shoes away, or any of those things. Once people are at your house, let them make a mess. When ever we have lots of guests over, I want to organize the coats and shoes by the door – they just feel cluttered to me. But you know what? No one cares. They dropped their stuff at the door to come into the warmth and spend time with YOU. In just several hours those coats, bags, and boots will all be gone. Organizing them does nothing but steal you away from your people. This also goes with dishes, let them pile up to deal with later. If guests offer to do the dishes with you or for you, feel free to let them but do not go into the kitchen alone to try to keep it clean for your guests. It is more important to be sitting by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa than washing off mashed potatoes from dinner plates.
Just because we are letting things be while people are over, doesn’t mean every man for themselves! Make sure drinks are easy to refill (set out a water pitcher) or check to make sure the bar area is still stocked. Brew some fresh coffee while you get all the desserts out. Offer seconds at dinner. Little things like that to show your guests you care and want them to enjoy themselves. Know the people you have over and offer them things they may need. This doesn’t have to be super stressful or over bearing. Like I mentioned above, setting out a pitcher of water for people to refill their glasses is a great way to meet that need without having to ask people if they need more water and running back & forth from the kitchen. For this you can still be super involved in your guests and conversation. You are just taking them on a journey with you – dinner, drinks, dessert, etc.
REMEMBER WHAT IS NEEDED
In the story of Mary & Martha, Jesus reminds Martha that in this situation only one thing is important and that is spending time with Him. The meal doesn’t have to be four courses, the kitchen doesn’t’ have to be spotless, the gathering doesn’t need to be picture perfect – the sweetest thing about that was the time they could spend together and learn from Jesus. The sweetest thing about hosting is not having a perfect home with perfect meals, but the people you invite over. I will promise you they will feel more loved if you have an intentional conversation with them than if you have spotless kitchen. When we host others, we have the ability to love on them – don’t miss the community!
And lastly, have fun! Don’t be worried and upset about many things. We all know what it is like to be around someone who is stressed (even stressed for our sake) and it isn’t fun. We would rather they just let it go and have fun. We gather to spend time to get to know each other better and grow as family and friends. When you are having fun and letting yourself and home be imperfect, you are allowing others to do the same. You are creating a space where people can just be. That is what makes hosting worth it! Don’t forget to have fun!
Have a question? I would love to help answer your Holiday Questions (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and everything in between!!) as we move through these next months and into the New Year! Click on the button below to submit your question and it may be the next “Ask Elizabeth” question featured next Friday!