I love to open my doors and gather guests at my table. I love lingering meals and rich conversation. I love what can happen to relationships over a simple dinner party or a bigger holiday meal.

While I enjoy serving others, I began to notice that I was putting more effort into the event and less effort into the guests. My overdoing, poor planning and high expectations of myself left me out of breath and stressed out by the end of it.

The door would close and I don’t know if I had even said, “Welcome.”

I have really begun to embrace the true meaning of hospitality and push aside what we more often do — entertain.

To unlock the art of hospitality many of us need to purge our systems of the Pinterest-perfect party.

Hospitality is an act of sacrifice, service and love. Practicing it may mean stepping out of your comfort zone either by inviting people or sitting down to coffee when there is a mess.

Our hearts should focus on the people; they should be still when crumbs fall on the floor and realize that a smile from your guest is a far better accomplishment than some DIY placemats and Martha Stewart recipe.

Not only can relationships be built when we really chime into being a true host, they can be broken when we don’t.

I’ve witnessed both and am here to share some things I’ll be practicing during this season of hospitality.

1. Prioritize. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need because there are always interruptions and setbacks. Do as much as you can beforehand (plan, cook, clean, set the table, decorate, lay out clothes).

Especially with children, laying out clothes in advance can really help if Dad needs to get them dressed closer to the event time. Have quick snacks and lunches prepped for them as well (or send Dad out with them for a day of fun).

2. Don’t be stressed. We want our guests to feel at home (and no, that doesn’t mean letting them do the dishes). This means we make them comfortable. The best way to make them comfortable is to eliminate stress. Everyone can sense when a host is stressed out even when they smack on a fake smile.

Tip: Don’t tell all your guests how hard you worked prepping dinner or how the whole thing stressed you out. That just makes your guests feel guilty and definitely not worthy of your time and effort.

3. Simplify. Less to prioritize, less to be stressed about — less is more. If paper plates and a Costco rotisserie chicken make you a happier host, then do it. Choose the one of more meaningful value.

I’ve witnessed guests make rude comments regarding a host’s spread of Costco food. In this case, opt for new guests, not fancier food.

4. Borrow or invest. For holiday meals, I like to borrow several slow cookers. I use them to warm premade food or keep something warm that I just made (works great for mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables and more). Invest in or borrow easy-to-clean serving utensils, drink pitchers, platters, etc. and put them in a labeled tub.

Tip: Wrapping paper can make great table runners. I’ve invested throughout the years in cheap rolls of festive paper which make any plain tablecloth look wonderful. Bonus: No fretting over food stains and laundry, you just throw it away when you’re done.

5. Say “yes” to help. Quit trying to DIY and just GOI (get-over-it). Most people like to contribute a dish or their effort. Accept if someone offers to bring something (unless it is a special dinner for them). Have a list of items ready to go upon an offer (i.e. salad, drinks, bread, dessert).

Also, have tasks prepared to delegate if someone offers to help you in the kitchen. Most people don’t like to sit and watch you — they like to be a part of it even if it is just washing potatoes.

6. Enjoy it. Prioritize “me time” and this will help you avoid stress and have fun. Get up early and pray; take a leisure bath; paint your nails; sneak bites and savor it; put on good music.

7. Put the dishes in the sink and be done. Doing the dishes says to your guest, “These are more important than you.” When you leave them and say, “Let’s go sit down,” the whole atmosphere changes. That is what hospitality is about: making your guest feel special.

8. Think outside the box. I had to get creative one year prepping to host 10 to 15 people for Thanksgiving in our 900-square-foot home. I had my husband set up the wall tent with a wood stove in the backyard. It created such a unique and cozy environment that my guests still talk about it. I’ve also used churches to hold events, planned picnic outings and moved furniture.

9. Welcome the uninvited, those who didn’t RSVP, the last-minute invite and the strangers. This is the ultimate test of hospitality. God will always have a seat for them and provide enough food if you allow it. “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2

10. Don’t force it. If hosting people in your home stresses you out no matter how hard you try, allow yourself to practice hospitality in other ways that make you feel more comfortable.

source: https://www.nrtoday.com/family/ways-to-perfect-the-art-of-hospitality/article_4cbfceb4-dfd7-5e15-9b58-e42ac2034df8.html