Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hospitality With Littles

This is a guest post from Monica at The Homespun Heart. Monica is the sister of Carrie of with all that i've been given who has guest posted here a time or two. I would encourage you to check out The Homespun Heart if you've never done so, as Monica blogs about faith, family and creativity in a way that I find totally inspiring and uplifting!

Awhile back, Monica blogged about how to practice hospitality with little ones and she gave us permission to share her thoughts here. She has some GREAT tips and ideas which I'm delighted to be able to share with our readers.

from Monica @ The Homespun Heart

How do you get past the fear of having a not quite perfect home (not picked up) with three littles and still welcoming drop in friends?

This comment was left on my recent post about hospitality. And, it is a great question! In a lot of ways, I think we have to get over wanting our house to be perfect when people come over. Our children are simply not going to keep every little thing put away!

I have come a long way in this area - maybe even too far to the other extreme now, where when a guest stops by I don't usually think about all the clutter on my counters or how many dust bunnies are on my kitchen floor.

If the guests drop in - there should be less expectations on our home. We did not know they were coming and our lives are lived in our homes. Do you have any suggestions to share on drop in company?

If I know we are having guests, obviously I will take some extra measures to present our home than when someone stops by unannounced. What comes to my mind is productively occupying our children so that once we've tidied the home for coming guests, they are not undoing it all!

Here are some ideas:

* Involve children in the welcoming of company: let them help in ch
oosing who comes, color a welcoming picture or decorate a sign or chalkboard you've written on. If you have a sign welcoming them - this will draw their attention up rather than to dirt on the floor! And, will give them a big welcome and let them know you are glad they are there. You could also provide a sheet of paper and just ask your child to color on it. It could be cut into place cards which you add the names to!

* Set out the dishes and then have children help set the table while you are preparing the meal. How I often do this is to hand Emily one plate and say, "This one is for Daddy's place." When she comes back we repeat this for each plate, napkin, fork, knife, spoon, etc... it takes longer and she really can't handle multiple plates right now anyway!

To read the rest of Monica's suggestions CLICK HERE. It will take you to her blog post entitled Hospitality with Littles which is worth spending some time thinking about!

Thanks, Monica, for encouraging me to involve my children in the fine art of extending hospitality to others!


  1. In regards to Unexpected Guests, our house has these rules;
    1) People are always more important than things.
    2) Making friends feel welcome is more important than making them feel impressed. (I am NOT nor ever will be a Martha Stewart!)

    Besides, shoving aside the laundry on my couch and making them a cup of hot tea or coffee is a great way of telling them, "Hey, I am making time for you, sitting with you is more important then turning you away until I finish my chores."
    However, one's home should never reach the point where it's just gross.
    There's "messy" and there's "atomic waste do not enter" in which case one should probably question the safety of the family living there!

  2. Wow, Monica! I love your thinking! When I have littles, these are exactly the kinds of things I'd like to do to involve them in hospitality and housekeeping! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Monica, thanks again for sharing!

    We have a chalkboard and I've been thinking a lot about moving it to the front door so that our kids can create greetings for our guests. That's just such an awesome idea.

    Thanks for allowing us to share your thoughts and tips around these parts. It's a honor.

  4. Unexpected guests can be tricky. We home school which means my 4 kids (17 months to 6 years) are home all day making messes. Here are my 3 tips for keeping a house in order enough for drop-in guests: regular schedule for housework (each morning one child sweeps the kitchen, one swiffers the living room, one wipes sinks and toilets); put away toys, books, etc. before moving on to the next activity; limit the number of toys and books in public areas.

    I know that last one can be controversial. BUT I live in a home NOT a toy store. In my living room toys live in 1 large basket, chapter/picture books live on 2 small shelves, and board books live in 1 medium basket. Limits help keep my living room from being overwhelmed with toys and make it easy to do a quick pick up if a friend is dropping by in 2 minutes.

  5. Great thoughts, ladies!

    We also only keep a limited number of toys/books in the Living Room. One box/basket of each.

    And, yes - I agree our homes should not get gross!

    On the chalkboard - we have loved using it for TONS of things! Ours hangs in the Dining Room, but near your front door would be great too or if you have one on an easel you could move it wherever needed!

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to share.