3 Ways to Practice Hospitality

At some point in your life, you might feel the intrinsic desire, societal pressure, or absorbing need to host a person or people in your home. The occasion might be to celebrate someone’s birthday or something they accomplished; it might be to discuss something important with someone; or it might be simply to enjoy one another’s company. In any case, the great news about hospitality is that it doesn’t have to be complicated but can be rather simple. Hospitality is something that everyone can practice. It’s out of reach for no one, and blesses everyone. Here are three ways I’ve learned to practice hospitality.

1. Have Someone Over for Dinner

This might be the most commonly seen, and therefore most obvious, way to practice hospitality. The temptation here might to think of this as an opportunity for a dinner party. There’s nothing wrong with that, but a dinner party can quickly fall into entertaining your guests and, to me, entertainment and hospitality are not the same. Entertainment is when you turn the attention of the occasion on yourself, but hospitality is when you turn the attention on someone else.

If you don’t know how to cook a full meal, then don’t. Prepare just a main dish and ask your guests to bring a side. Cooking for more than a couple of people can quickly become expensive, and a good host is wise to never spend beyond their means. People don’t want to be impressed by you; they just want to be with you.

2. Have Someone Over for Coffee

If you feel like it’s not within your means to host people for dinner, having someone over for coffee is an excellent, inexpensive, and timeless way to show hospitability. It’s more common now to meet up with someone for coffee at your favorite spot, and more rare to have coffee with someone else at home. When you think about it, going out for coffee is becoming more expensive (especially if you pay). If you only buy a regular coffee for yourself, a pastry, and then leave a small tip for the barista, your bill will be about $10. That’s almost the full price for a whole bag of coffee from which you could get several servings.

The other benefit of having someone over for coffee is the safety and relaxation of being in a home. There are some conversations that shouldn’t be had at a coffee shop. Someone might therefore feel safer and more relaxed discussing something on a couch where no one else is watching, no music is playing overhead, and there is no rush to leave. And, of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be coffee. Host for the occasion, your guests’ likes, and what you have—be it tea, wine, beer, a cocktail, and so on.

3. Have Someone Stay Overnight

If you ever have an opportunity to have someone stay overnight, it’s most likely because people are coming into town specifically to see you, or they simply need a place to rest their head and a bed to sleep on while passing through. This, I believe, is the most difficult way to host because it requires extended effort and, most notably, much more time. When you invite someone over for dinner or coffee, you give up your space to them to share it for what’s really only a short time. But when you host someone overnight, the time that you invest bears its weight on you. You might have them only overnight, or several nights, and your space and their space become one.

It’s beautiful, but hard. It’s hard, but rewarding. Having someone overnight (depending on their length of stay) will probably require you to plan more, including meals for them and maybe even activities to do while you’re together. Be assured that your effort won’t go unnoticed and neither will your guests be unthankful. But that’s not why you do it. You do it for their sake, and to extend love and hospitality that is generous for its sake.

In all of these ways, the best way to practice hospitality is to just start doing it. But you have to instigate it—meaning, you have to open your door and invite someone in. No one will walk through on their own. You might not get everything right, and you’ll probably look back and see how you could’ve planned things better. But that comes with time. If you never start being hospitable, you’ll never learn how to do it well to begin with, and you’ll never know the joy of offering what you have to people for their sake and the sake of your time with them.

What is one way you like to show hospitality? Leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Jon Aleixo10 Comments