We often hear these two words used interchangeably but hospitality and entertaining are two different things. Hospitality is opening you home to family, friends, and strangers, even with little or no notice with a focus on the comfort and enjoyment of your guest. Entertaining is setting up a perfect tablescape and meal with much planning and preparation, with a focus on you as the host.
The key to creating a hospitable environment is to keep your focus on your guests, making them comfortable. A perfectly clean and organized home may look nice, but often something “too perfect” will cause guests to feel ill-at-ease and out of place because they fear messing up all your hard work. Studies show that people are most comfortable in an environment that feels lived-in and makes them feel like family. So how to you achieve this?
First of all, quit waiting for your house to be perfect to have people over. You will always find one more project that needs to be done. Don’t wait for that never ending list to be finished before you decide to invite people into your home. I have never had anyone refuse to hang out at my house because we were painting or building a deck or whatever project we happened to be in the middle of doing! Spend your time focusing on how you can make your space into something people will describe as comfortable, homey, relaxed, welcoming, and inviting.
Second, spend time (and maybe even a little money) decorating your space in a way that welcomes guests. We make sure to have a lot of seating available, especially chairs and stools that can be moved around to allow the space flexibility depending on the group we are hosting. Chose furniture and accent pieces that have a story behind them. People love to hear about how we bartered with a street vendor in China to get our porcelain vases or how we bought our antique Hoosier cabinet on eBay – sight unseen! Mix and match piece and incorporate old and new. This will help create a comfortable environment.
Third, feed them! Food has a way of welcoming and comforting people so use it. But don’t spend hours preparing elaborate dinner parties when you know your crowd is more pizza or subs. Tomorrow we will look more at foods to promote hospitality.