Your Tribe: Holiday Hospitality

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We are in one of my favorite times of the year yet once again! 

It is HOLIDAY SEASON! 

I know this is not a favorite time of year for some while others share my enthusiasm. 

I’m hoping wherever you sit on this spectrum, what I share now will be an encouragement to you.

For all of the reasons that make holidays difficult, it is never a good idea to endure “difficult” alone, in isolation, which is how some of us choose to cope. 

We were created to live in community, to share life with its highs and its lows, its joys and its sorrow.

The holidays tend to magnify all that is right with the world or all that is terribly not right. 

While hospitality is an attitude of receiving and treating people in a warm and caring way, it is an act that can be exhibited in your home as well as in the supermarket, and the holidays are an especially perfect time of year to share the attitude of hospitality with others. 

Knowing we are all in different places, having different experiences and with different feelings, it’s a great time to offer warmth and compassion.

It’s also a fact that when you show hospitality, you also receive a good feeling which will warm your heart. 

I love having people to our home during this time of year.  I sometimes have just one person over for coffee . . .  or I might invite 20 over for a holiday brunch . . .  or it could be a dinner party for 6 or . . .  anything in between. 

No matter the number, or if something is served, or what may be planned, THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to me is welcoming my guest(s) and hoping my guest(s) feel special. 

This requires being fully present when opening the front door.

There are preparations that go into having friends and acquaintances over. 

I like to plan what type of gathering I am having. 

I like to consider what I might serve. 

I like to think of the mix of people I might include, making sure in a large group that each person invited will know at least 1 or 2 others. 

Once these things are determined with the date set, I like to extend an invitation.  An invitation can be issued by a phone call, a text message, an e-mail, or the old fashioned way – through the USPS! 

I usually ask for an RSVP.  This helps when planning food and drink if these apply to the gathering. 

SIDE NOTE:  It’s really a courtesy to give an RSVP to your host.  It makes it so much easier to plan ahead.

One reason I love to have people in over the holidays is that I love having our home decorated for the season. 

Christmas tree lights and candles can hide a multitude of sins when it comes to housekeeping! 

However, I try to make a list a week or 2 in advance of my gathering detailing what all I would like to accomplish before hand. 

Then I look at the list and choose the order in which I will attempt to complete the tasks. 

There are certain things that need to be done just the day of (perhaps toilets or food prep – washing hands after one and before the other preferably!) while other things can be done in advance.

I try to think of my table and how I want it to feel.  Will we be sitting at the table or using the table to display food items? 

If we will be sitting at the table, I want to be sure that any centerpiece is not too tall.  It is important for guests to be able to see each other and not have to look around decorations.  If the table will be used to display food, do I have the plates at the head of the line followed by the selection of foods and finally the utensils and napkins?

Decorations can be super simple.  One year I purchased off white paint cloths (they were long and much less expensive than burlap, the fabric I preferred in the beginning), pressed them and used them as my tablecloths.  I have used fruits and vegetables, leaves and tree limbs for decorations. 

Many times I look around our home and or yard to see what is available. 

I try to do any food prep the day or two before so that the day of my gathering, I am more able to share hospitality.  I like to light my entry both on the outside and on the inside so that a guest is being greeted in the light. 

If more than 1 person is coming, as each guest arrives I want to greet them, invite them in and introduce them to anyone they may not already know. 

I usually offer something to drink, perhaps something to eat and a cozy, comfortable place to sit.  The rest just happens. 

When you are on the receiving end of hospitality or on the offering end of hospitality, your authenticity is very important. 

If you approach hospitality with a manufactured attitude, a way of acting you “think” is called for, a role you are supposed to play, it might work but it won’t be nearly as significant or meaningful as it would be if you were you. 

Don’t be afraid to do what you feel in your heart.  Go with your instincts.  You will be most effective in disarming anxiety of others and enjoying yourself when you are you. 

Remember that hospitality is about receiving and greeting people with warmth and caring.  It comes from a place in our heart and can be extended at any time in any place. 

When hospitality is extended it has the potential to brighten someone’s day, to make someone feel very special, to restore someone’s self respect or self esteem. 

Anyone, no matter whether you have or have not, are young or old, are able bodied or not, can share an attitude of hospitality.

Happy Holidays and share your hospitality! ~Anne

YOUR TRIBE

Anne Miller is TableThink’s columnist for Your Tribe.  Anne’s writing takes us home, reminding us  of what really matters.  She invites you to the TableThink tribe . . . and to know it’s . . . Your Tribe.

 “I hope you will feel inspired to connect, reconnect, or get to know someone in your community, realizing it is not about entertaining – holding the attention of – it is about “being” together, sharing life and relationship.”

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