Monday, October 21, 2013

A Welcoming Home (Day 21)

#31days of Missional Meals
"We don't want competition. We don't want 'look how beautiful.' We want 'look how honest.'" -Shauna Niequist
I once walked into a home with everything in its place and fresh vacuum lines in the carpet.  Immediately the husband began to apologize for the state of the home and lament how upset his wife would be when she came home to see guests in such a disaster of a home.  It was at that moment that I doubted we would ever have a deep and lasting relationship with this couple. I knew I couldn't live up to their standards of perfection and frankly, I didn't want to.

Missional meals are not about perfection. Your house does not and should not have to be perfect every time you practice hospitality. If you hold yourself to a standard of perfection quite quickly missional meals will become more like work and less like joyful living. This is especially true if you're opening up your home regularly and often.

However grace and authenticity are not excuses for inviting others into a chaotic and dirty home. There are seasons of life where your home may be messier than others and that is ok. But while people don't feel comfortable in an all too perfect house, they also don't feel comfortable in a house where they're afraid to sit down or go to the bathroom. In difficult seasons of life it's ok and wise even to recognize your boundaries and reorient your hospitality calendar.

Below are some simple reminders to help you cultivate a welcoming home:
  • Cleaning Basics: a living room that's picked up, a floor that's swept, and counters that are empty make a big difference. 
  • In a Pinch: always make sure the bathroom is clean for guests as this is the only room they'll spend extended time in alone. (They shouldn't have to questions what that spot on the toilet seat is.) And light a candle in the entry way as a pleasing fragrance gives the illusion of cleanliness even if the eye says otherwise. 
  • Great your guests and offer them a drink right away. It's even better if you have a drink station setup for them to help themselves (this is one I'm working on).
  • Always allow guests to contribute if they ask to or split the menu among the group. People feel more involved when they add something to the meal. If you've got everything covered have those who want to help bring an extra bottle of wine, etc. 
  • Even if the meal is not ready the host should be showered and dressed. (via Shauna Niequist).
  • Bonus: have music playing prior to people arriving (I'm working on this one too). It acts as white noise and eliminates that awkward silence that can occur with a mixed group. 
Do you have any tips for cultivating a welcoming home? I'd love to hear your advice in the comments below.

And for tips on being a great guest see this excellent post.


  1. Abandoning perfection really is huge! This is a good one Joy! The only thing I would add, is to think about the entry to your home. A potted plant, a nice welcome mat, and a swept stoop will give the impression of a welcoming home before your guest knocks on the door and puts them at ease.

    1. Good point, Renia. First impressions make a big difference.