A few years ago, my husband and I did something kind of crazy. We bought a lake house—and while that simple act might not be enough to deem us nutso, what we planned to do with it was. The house is way bigger than we need for our family of five but, when we walked through it for the very first time, we knew we were supposed to buy it. I’m not sure how exactly to explain it, aside from telling you that we both had the very strong feeling that not only were we supposed to buy the house, but we were also to use it as a space to invite others to come for a place of rest. I’ll never forget swapping stories with him later that night—we both found ourselves envisioning hosting large groups there and making it a true place of respite from our busy world.
Fast forward a few years later and I’m so grateful we trusted those initial promptings. Over the last five years, we’ve hosted countless people in our home. The summer months are always the busiest and, on any given week, it’s common to find anywhere between two and seven families staying with us. It’s a whole lot of fun and, in so many ways, it’s the fulfillment of what we envisioned in the very beginning.
During that time, we’ve learned a whole heck of a lot about what lies at the heart of true hospitality. At the end of the day, we’ve found that it comes down to a few important things:
Hospitality is about inviting people in, just as they are. It’s about providing a safe place to land, where all feel welcomed and loved.
It’s about being thoughtful. The simple act of offering a drink or a snack when guests arrive helps them feel like they are truly welcome.
It's about working as a team. An important part of togetherness is doing things together. If something needs to get done, allow guests to help. This allows everyone to feel like they’re part of the process, rather than simply an onlooker.
It’s about stepping into a rhythm. Once you begin hosting more and more, you learn what works. We have go-to drinks and food that are on a regular rotation, not because we love repetition, but because they’re familiar crowd pleasers and don’t add unnecessary stress. Finding your own rhythm is good and will help you to feel at ease.
It’s about helping others feel at home. In our house, everything is fair game and we make sure our guests know it. Hungry? Take a look in the pantry or fridge. Thirsty? Grab a drink. Need something? It’s yours. The more we extend kindness and encourage others to feel at home in our spaces, the more they’ll keep coming back.
Too often we believe the myth that in order to host someone in our home, every detail needs to be perfect. But when you have a house filled to the brim, you quickly learn that you either have to sacrifice the dream of perfectionism or your sanity. Don’t let that get in the way of inviting people in.
The world needs more spaces where others feel truly welcome, just as they are. Let your home be a place of refuge—you may just find that your life is immeasurably richer because of it. So go ahead and consider this your invitation to make room for others. In your home, in your life and in your heart.
Photo by Julie Griffin Photography (@juliegriffinphotographyaz)