But always remember, whatever you do to prepare,
Let all that you do, be done in love1 Corinthians 16:14
Start Planning as Far Beforehand as Possible!
Even though it’s not always possible, planning beforehand when we can is always helpful.
Below are some practical tips that the Lord has taught me throughout the years along with 2 Free Printables that you can use for your next get-together. I pray it is of blessing as you seek to share God’s love with others by imitating His hospitality!
(Scroll to bottom of this post to download your Hospitality Planning Guide + Tips)
3 Areas to Plan: A.) The Location B.) The Menu C.) The Activities
A. Plan the Location
Knowing where you’ll get together first, will help tremendously with the other details. So ask yourself, Will it be:
- Indoors? (What rooms will most likely be used?)
- Outdoors? (Backyard, Garage, a Park, etc.)
Location Planning Tips
#1. If Possible, Take it Outdoors.
Whether that’s your backyard, garage, driveway or a public park, there’s tons of advantages of having a gathering outdoors. Guest lists can be longer, there’s room to hold more activities, more freedom for kids to run around, less cleanup, etc.
A downside is unpredictable weather. So, remember to check the forecast beforehand and have a backup plan in case of a storm. 🙂
For Outdoor Activities consider:
- Setting up games like horseshoes, corn hole, or have chalk on hand for kids and guests to enjoy. We love a good corn hole tournament!
- The climate–Will you need fans during the hot months or maybe a bonfire in the fall?
- Having a trash can outside for them to throw their plates away.
- Whether you’ll need extension cords for crockpots, fans, projectors, etc.
#2. Make Sure Everyone Has a Place to Sit.
It doesn’t matter if it’s on the sofa, at the kitchen table, a camping chair, an ottoman or a picnic blanket. We’ve used them all! And it doesn’t matter if everyone’s squished around the table and couch. (Been there too!) The most important is that each person has a place so everyone feels they were taken into consideration.
#3. Before Starting, Make the Important Announcements 1st (like letting them know where the bathroom is!)
#4. Clean the Bathroom!
If you will be meeting in your home and only have time to clean one place–please let it be the bathroom. A quick wipe down of the sink, a swoosh of the toilet and voila! Certainty that your company will feel more comfortable and at ease!
**Check Your Toilet Paper Supply–Better to Have Extra than Not Enough!
B. Plan the Menu
Food certainly isn’t required to love on others, but looking at Jesus’ example, we can’t escape the fact that it’s part of His hospitality.
He intertwined His message and His method in such an authentic and natural way that we almost miss it…Doing life around the table was (and is) one of His favorite ways to enact world change–one of His most profound yet simple strategies for discipleship, evangelism, and the encouragement of the saints. So let’s take His lead. Set the table. Set your heart. Then with great anticipation, set your eyes on the One who gathers us at the table in the first place.Jen Schmidt, Just Open the Door
Start by Asking Yourself:
What type of Food?
- Finger Foods
- Dessert & Coffee
- A Regular Meal
- 3-Course Dinner
- Pizza, etc.
Will it Be :
- Home-Cooked? (What ingredients do you need to buy? & What time do you need to start cooking for it to be done in time?)
- Pot Luck? (Who will bring what?)
- Take-Out? (What time do you need to pick it up & who will be in charge of getting it?)
- Delivery? (Check to see how long delivery will take–often it changes depending on the day/hour.)
Menu Planning Tips:
#1. Ask About Any Food Allergies
For me, with all my food allergies, it really means a lot when people try to provide a meal that I can eat as well. And although it’s not always possible, it still makes me feel loved. Read about my journey in the post AIP, Answered Prayer and Learning to Eat for God’s Glory.
And don’t feel offended if they want to bring their own meal. Sometimes others simply don’t want to be an inconvenience and feel more comfortable that way. I know I’ve felt that way before. Take it as them seeking to be considerate of you.
#2. If You’ll be Cooking, Make a List of Tried & True Recipes and Choose One.
Being the chef of the family (and considering cooking as a hobby), my husband has a different viewpoint. He enjoys discovering new recipes & often will try elaborate ones for the first time when company is coming or a fellowship at church. If that is you, by all means ignore this tip.
However, if you are like me, I suggest that you make it easy on yourself and share a family favorite. Every time I try out a new dish, it seems to take twice as long to make because I’m unfamiliar with the recipe and have to keep stopping to look at it. Plus, it normally takes me cooking it a few times to get it to our liking. So, to avoid a potential stressful situation I stick with what I know.
And even if you don’t have an upcoming gathering, I encourage you to go ahead and make a master list of these type of recipes so it will cut out some of the guesswork when company is coming–this is one thing I always plan on doing, but have yet to do it. But it is definitely something I’m going to work on. Besides, if we can make something easier on ourselves, why not?
[In need of some cooking inspo? Check out this Strawberry-Citrus Salad , Master Your Meal Planning with Crockpot Chicken & Ready in Under 20 min Semi-Homemade Spaghetti (Squash) + “Meat”ball Recipe (Great for Gluten-Free guests!)]
#3. Paper Plates are Just Fine. So you May Want to Stock up!
#4. Calculate How Much Food You’ll Need.
How many people will be coming? The kitchen is not my strongest area and I’m used to cooking for just 2 people, so I know this can be a struggle. I think the easiest starting place is to ask yourself how many people do you normally cook for? Two? How many people will be there (including your family?) Four? Then just double the amount that you normally cook. And simply triple, quadruple, etc. depending on the crowd.
NOTE: Take into account if there’s normally leftovers when you cook a recipe. If so, you won’t need to multiply the food as much.
#5. Again, Better to Have Extras, than Not Enough.
C. Plan the Activities
By this, I don’t mean having every minute scheduled, and it’s certaintly not necessary, but depending on the occasion, it can be very helpful. Especially if there will be various families that are getting to know one another–games always help break the ice.
Activity Planning Tips
#1. Don’t Forget to Take Into Consideration the Kids.
Sometimes kids can feel overlooked and that only the adults are important. Having some toys, coloring books or games on hand will assure them that, in your house, they count too! Such a small effort can make a big impact on little hearts.
#2. Have some Board Games or Cards on Hand.
It may seem that I’m repeating what I just said, but games aren’t just for kids! We recently had a few families over for an evening and there were various ages. As everyone was talking, I prayed and asked God what would help connect everyone and make it a fun, warm environment. He reminded me of our container full of card games–and never could I have guessed what excitement, laughs and memories UNO would bring. After watching the kids have a good time, the adults just couldn’t resist!
Would you like to include:
- A Devotional?
- Time of Prayer?
- Board games, etc.?
- Outdoor Activities?
[Looking for Ideas for activities for Your Next Get-together or Ladies Bible Study? For kid ideas check out this article with a Free Printable Bible Study/Activity. Or for your next women’s Bible Study use This Sex Trafficking Awareness Prayer Guide or 4 Steps to Fortify Your Life with God’s Word (A Brief Study of Nehemiah 8) ]
Keep It Simple.
We touched on various areas, but the most important (as with everything in life) is to not over-complicate things.
This planning guide is simply that–a guide. To help when you perhaps don’t know where to start and take some of the guesswork out of it, not to cause stress thinking you must do everything mentioned.
So, don’t over-plan–always remember to leave room for God to do His work–that’s when truly beautiful things happen.
Even the best laid plans don’t always go as expected. Perhaps your food burns or rain decides to hide the sun in the middle of your outdoor activity. Or maybe, God is just pressing on your heart to change some detail.
Be willing to let your plan go. When hit with the unexpected, simply ask God to take you by the hand and guide you into His will and to give you a flexible heart. You (and everyone else) will enjoy the time more if you do.
When True Hospitality Happens, You Won’t Even Need to Be There.
I learned this truth a few years ago, when we celebrated Father’s Day with the church congregation at our house. We decorated the garage, set up tables and chairs and lawn games for the kids. There was around 40 of us. My husband prepared a feast with marinated meats of all kinds–so much that he was grilling even after everyone was eating. During lunch, it got hotter than we expected (forgot the fans!) and my dad was getting ready to go to work. Obviously, he didn’t want to get all sweaty and icky so we finished our meal inside.
I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with my dad and other mother, but was at first concerned that people would feel neglected with Jonathan out back and me inside.
Boy was I wrong!
Sitting there looking out every window, I realized a glorious truth. Hospitality is truly about just letting others in. Making them feel that, as they say in Mexico, that “Mi Casa es Tu Casa” (“My House is Your House“).
I looked to the left and saw kids enjoying themselves in the front yard, to my right Jonathan and his faithful grilling assistant (a 12-year old boy) hard at work (and play) out back, and through the windows directly in front, some men had carried chairs to the side of the house and were enjoying the breeze and good conversation. Behind me, a lady had taken it upon herself to clean up and was in the kitchen joyfully washing up the dishes. I got up to look in the garage–it was full of loud talking and laughter.
Nobody missed Jonathan or me. I’m not sure they even realized we weren’t there.
They felt at home.
Above all, Be willing to Let others In even if it’s Last Minute.
The above are just a few practical tips that can help us in becoming women who edify others and become Multipliers of Good. It doesn’t take much, just a willing heart. Remember, last minute invitations are perfectly acceptable. We don’t need to prepare every detail beforehand for God to use us, we just need to be open and sensitive to His leading to let others in.
Becoming women of significance doesn’t start with a microphone or a stage or even a blog following. It doesn’t depend on special talents or a larger-than-life personality. It begins by simply saying, “Yes Lord, I’m willing to be just one simple person. Here’s my one door, my one table, my one sofa. Use them.”
That’s because simple everyday steps of faithfulness are our platform. Somehow in the middle of our unqualified mess, we become women of influence. There’s power in just starting with one.
Just open up your door. Willingly share your one table. Offer up your one secondhand sofa. Then watch God use these small offerings to change one life forever…and who knows how many hundreds or thousands more as He multiplies.”Jen Schmidt, Just Open the Door
And as always,
Be Kind. Be Encouraging. Be a Multiplier!