by Andrea Stunz
‘Tis the season for hospitality. Parties attended and parties hosted. Family gatherings here and there. As we welcome people into our homes here are some things I like to do to try to do to ensure they walk out of my home and back into theirs and take a little bit of joy along with them.
Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s a great start. When guests arrive at your front door, here are five gifts you can give them that will bring them joy.
When your guests arrive, they should get a welcoming and bright first impression that clearly says their presence is a gift to you. Turn on the lights and lamps. Lighting is important. People feel more comfortable in a well-lit room. Turn on the overhead lights to open up the space and the lamps to make it warm and cozy. A nice touch is to leave the guest bathroom light on so your friends don’t have to wonder. Hint: Turn your ceiling fans on, if you have them, to the lowest setting. It usually gets warm during a party, even in winter temps, so air circulation helps. Plus, a fan in motion is a fan that’s not dirty. Or at least not visibly dirty. Who has time to clean ceiling fans??
Get as much done ahead of time as you can. If you have help from family or friends, delegate the refills of trays and drinks and such. Kids love helping with this stuff! It makes them feel so important and big. Please let them help. So often we get in a rush and shoo the kids out because they’re underfoot. Let them learn from you so they can do it for themselves one day. Hint: If your kids or your spouse helps, praise them to your guests when they’re around. The benefits of this are long lasting.
During the party, don’t worry about clean up and by all means, don’t let your guests help you. Tell them you want to visit, you can clean later. Personally, I prefer cleaning up after and reminiscing about all the good conversations I had and remembering the joy people experienced that I had something to do with. I’m physically exhausted after the party but my mind is going a hundred miles an hour. Taking the time to clean up and savor all the great moments of the evening helps me decompress. Be fully present at your party. Try not to be thinking about what you need to do next and if you are, make sure your guests don’t clue in. You will find that you enjoy the party so much more, too.
Do what you love and ONLY what you love. Some of us spend months getting all excited about scouring Pinterest for all the greatest creations, some of us have our standard favorites that we are comfortable with and some of us go to the wholesale store the day before. All of those, or any combination of them, are okay! Whatever your preference, just make it tasty and on the level that makes it easy enough for you to enjoy your evening, too. A nice little touch is to have some type of containers available for your guests to fill up and take home some of their favorite treats. One year for Thanksgiving, my husband’s brother and his wife found these awesome Looney Tune plates. We each filled our plates with leftovers and wrapped them up with plastic wrap. Our kids loved those plates and we’ve used them for years remembering that fun Thanksgiving with our family. Send your guests home with satisfied tummies and maybe even some treats for tomorrow.
Give grace to yourself: Don’t go around apologizing all night for your house not being perfect or your furniture being old or the over-baked cookies. They didn’t come to see your house or your furniture or even for the cookies. And if they did then they came for the wrong reason and they aren’t good friends. Just smile and relax! They came to hang out with you.
Give grace to your guests: If they spill something, relax. If they track in mud, no biggie. Clean up the big chunks and get back to the party. Or better yet, have someone in your family assigned to clean up duty and quietly whisper to them, “Clean up on aisle 12.” The hearts of your guests matter so much more than our floors. We can’t throw a party without being ready for a mess of some sort. Hint: Unless your floors are incredibly gross, don’t mop before the party. Just give it a good sweep and maybe spot mop the sticky spots. Mop after the party because it’s going to need it and then it can bring you joy.
I’m not a big hugger. Well, I take that back. I do love giving hugs to people who aren’t taking them. The problem for me in that is that I generally know. If you want to take a hug from me, it’ll probably be a pretty stiff and quick connection. If you need to be hugged, I’ll probably know that too and I’m all about that. My mother-in-law was the best hug-giver I’ve ever known. She always gave hugs. She never took hugs. I mean, we gave her hugs but she never expected them. She is and will forever will be remembered by these three words, “Give me a hug!” But what she really meant was, “You’re not leaving here without letting me give you a hug!” I loved her hugs. I want to hug like she did. I try. I’ve still got work to do. Give your guests hugs as they leave. Send them home with a hug filled with enough joy to last until next year’s party.
Gift your guests with joy and watch it come right back at you. Fill and be filled. That’s how it works.
Andrea Stunz has been a Christ-follower from the age of seven. She is the committed wife to one, loving mom to three amazing adult children, grateful mother-in-law and ridiculously proud grandmother. A well-traveled Texan, having lived in Brazil, Asia, and the UK, Andrea finds joy in her family, grace in her friends, beauty in a story, purpose in the sunrise, wonder in her travels, and hope in Colossians 1:17. Andrea longs to encourage other women by sharing stories because “a story worth living is a story worth sharing”. Find more from her at AndreaStunz.com.