Now that it looks like we are going to be living in Nashville for a while, what can I do to extend the gift of hospitality without having much experience? I definitely have the heart to serve and offer a room to anyone who needs a place to sleep at night.
Today, I am grateful I can look back at those times when hostesses created extraordinary teaching moments to someone like me who barely had any time to settle in one place for too long. I knew having us around required extra work on their part but they always made us feel that it was a pleasurable thing for them to do.
Here are some valuable lessons that I have learned from the best hostesses.
1) Provide a generous number of bathing essentials. Sometimes it's hard to work with a single piece of towel. It's nice to have at least two bath towels, and additional ones for the face and the hand. Same goes for toilet paper. The most awkward thing for a guest is to ask for extra rolls of toilet paper because he/she went to the bathroom too many times. Another thoughtful gesture is providing basic toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, Q-tips, cotton balls, tissue, lotion, shampoo and conditioner.
2) Make it easy for guests to locate things. It is very considerate to make guests' basic needs accessible. These include (but not limited to) extra towels, pillows, blankets, iron, toiletries, snacks, and drinking water. Include a welcome note with the password of your home wireless Internet for that extra touch. If you want your visitors to easily clean up after themselves, leave rolls of paper towels and a bottle of all-purpose cleaning spray by the bathroom sink. Want your guest to avoid the awkwardness of fixing personal, private mishaps? Discreetly put a plunger in the corner of your bathroom. Include a bottle of air freshener so they can comfortably mask personal scents. And oh don't forget the wastebasket!
3) Have their favorite morning drink available. Find out the favorite comfort morning drink of your guest. Everyone has one! Nothing says "It is my joy to have you over" than freshly brewed coffee or tea especially made for a friend. Another thoughtful touch: leave a $5 Starbucks gift card and a city map in the guest room as a welcome gesture!
4) Provide closet and/or dresser space. I am not sure if many can relate to this but when I reach my intended destination, my first order of business is unpacking and making sure I know where my things are. An empty section of a closet or dresser is heaven-sent when I take on this task! Provide several hangers so that guests get a chance to smooth out the wrinkles of their clothes. Include a travel-sized spray bottle of Downy Wrinkle-Releaser. An added bonus: a full-length mirror available in their bedroom!
5) Stock the room with reading materials. Another demonstration of thoughtfulness is leaving a couple of magazines, a newspaper, or a "local scene" newsletter. Giving the guests a chance to unwind before bedtime lets them know that you care about their rest. One creative hostess even left a language book and some chocolates! And don't forget to provide proper lighting to complement their reading time.
Hospitality comes in different shapes and sizes. And I feel so blessed to have seen a lot of those different shapes -- all are more than wonderful and taught me in huge ways.
The five practical ways of being a great hostess was impressive to me not because my needs as a guest were met (although that in itself is a beautiful thing). It was the heart behind those acts of kindness. There is something extraordinary that takes place when members of a host family allow themselves to be used by God through a home-cooked meal, an engaging conversation, and shared laughter.
Isn't it very loving to provide that kind of warmth to people in today's cold, disconnected world? I am excited to talk more about this subject in my next blog post: The Heart of a Gracious Hostess. Watch out for it!
1 Peter 4:9 (ESV) says,
"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."
Tell me today:
What ideas do you have to make a guest's visit more enjoyable?