When I was a single mom, a long time ago, my two children and I shared a home with my friend Nancy and her twins.
Next door to us lived an elderly man and his wife. The husband was so friendly, always with a huge smile. We invited them over a time or two, just to be hospitable. I remember that he would say over and over again, “My wife and I want to have you over for a visit some time, but we have to get the house cleaned up first.” We’d say, “okay”, but somehow I knew it would never happen. His outward appearance and even the exterior of their home seemed bent on perfection. I could tell that his home would never measure up to the standards he sought for guests. It saddens me when I recall my former neighbors and the folks who’d have gained much from knowing them.
It also saddens me when clients tell me they hide when they hear a neighbor knock at the door. They’re afraid they’ll be evaluated and come up short. I believe, on the other hand, that people are more comfortable in imperfect homes.
Clients have told me that they avoid “sterile” homes of relatives because they can’t relax. They’d constantly be afraid to track in or spill something. It’s a lie that neighbors have “perfectly together” homes. Unless the home is more like a museum and no real living goes on.
I’ll never forget the times I ran to my best friends’ homes, in the most difficult seasons of my life. More than once I dragged my two kids along and invaded Barbara’s family meals and celebrations when I needed the comfort of family. They welcomed us into the fold as if we were kin. My favorite memories happened in homes. We had real conversations and relationships went to deeper levels. I always felt encouraged.
Here are some tips for welcoming folks in~
If someone shows up at the door without notice:
- Kick the clutter out of the pathway and welcome them with a smile and a glass of water.
If you have a little notice before someone arrives:
- Have your front door/porch area neat and inviting.
- Keep your home tidy and clean enough. No toys as tripping hazards, or piles of dirty underwear in the entrance. You can stuff clothes in the laundry or closet if you need to temporarily.
- Place dirty dishes in dishwasher or the sink so the counters are clear.
- Cut some greenery or flowers from your yard and stick in a jar or vase on the table, or pick up flowers from Trader Joe’s.
- Light a candle near the entrance.
- Turn on lamps— use lighting for warmth.
- Have fresh fruit in a bowl and maybe popcorn or snacks.
- Offer something seasonal such as pumpkin spice tea. If you’re really inspired, bake something with a wonderful aroma!
- Quickly swish the toilet and wipe counters and surfaces.
- With a big smile, greet your people at the door.
- Do not apologize about your house and point out all the negatives,
- Focus on them! Let them know you’re happy to see them and you care about them.
- If the air is chilly, offer a throw.
- Just enjoy your time together. Do you realize how valuable a listening ear is? I am forever grateful and changed by the friends who have listened.
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2
“The ornaments of my home are the friends who frequent it.” Emerson