Carrie here with a different kind of post.
Now, likely you are reading this blog because you a.) are wanting to learn how to offer hospitality in new and better ways (or perhaps with a better attitude) or b.) because you need some motivation to even get started! Either which way, you are welcome.
The more I talk to other people, the more I realize how different we are in the ways in which we are equipped to offer hospitality to others. For example, some people do really well hosting large groups of people into their homes. Others feel more satisfied by meeting friends for coffee. Some families prefer meeting other families at parks, while others build parks in their backyard and host neighborhood gatherings. Everyone is different and it's all part of the fun discovering the special ways in which God has equipped each one of us to minister to others through hospitality.
Regardless of your special means of offering hospitality, I think it's safe to assume that there is always something new to learn and new tricks to stuff up the ol' sleeve and pull out when the time is right.
I, for one, am a large party person. If I had to choose between hosting 2 people or 20, I'd choose the 20 every time. I just love the conversation that a large group of people spark and how much variety there is within the gathering. I do recognize that sometimes it's the two people that you have over that can be a far greater influence on your life than the twenty but it's still fun.
Of course, hosting large gatherings can be very tricky. What food to serve (and at what cost?) How to keep warm food warm, cold food cold and drinks at the proper temperature? Here are two specific tools that I have either invested in or have on my radar to help me in this purpose:
The 3-Station Mini Buffet Server is priced at $29.00 on Amazon and is an absolute lifesaver! (I've seen similar styles for $24 at various department stores.) This is the best thing EVER if you want to serve a variety of appetizers that you want to keep on the warm side. I've served any number of food items with this server, from warm veggies to mini quiches. I. adore. this. thing. It keeps your food contained to one area as well, without forcing you to take up valuable space on the buffet table with multiple serving bowls and dishes. It is fantastic and I have used mine over and over and over again!
Another item which I do not own but would definitely like to add to my kitchen service collection is the following:
Some friends of ours pulled out their Stainless-Steel Warming Tray to use at Thanksgiving and I thought it was nothing short of miraculous. (It is more pricey, but worth it when you consider the amount of time you are saving for face-to-face interactions with your guests over face-to-bolwl interactions with your food.) When you are serving a lot of dishes that you want to keep warm, but need to bake and serve separately, this tray fits the bill! There was plenty of space for them to lay out a large platter of turkey carvings and a platter of ham side-by-side. (Our friends actually had two such warming trays. The other was covered with trays of stuffing. Yum!) This useful tool has most definitely been added to my wish list!
Of course, where would we all be without the Crock-pot!? I don't think you can have large quantities of people into your home for a meal without utilizing some crock-pots! I have two: a larger and a smaller sized pot. This allows me to serve meatballs alongside a pasta dish. It also allows for me to serve two different kinds of soups if the occasion calls for it.
I really don't know where I would be without some of these items. Before I had the buffet service, I found entertaining large groups a bit more stressful as I was trying to manage food on a stove, attempting to keep it warm without burning it. The buffet server allows me to walk away from the food, knowing it will be kept at the proper temperature without my having to sacrifice fellowship time to stand in the kitchen stirring food! I absolutely love being able to prepare my food before the company arrives and then be free to interact with my guests while they are in my home. (After all, having them over is about the fellowship!) Love, love, LOVE this tool!
What about you? Are there any specific tools that you like to use when hosting large gatherings that has saved your bacon (literally or figuratively) that you'd like to share? Definitely curious to know about them!
(Next up, I'll share some of my favorite small group hosting tools.)