When I first got married I did not know how to cook. Yes, growing up I spent time with my mom in the kitchen but personally preferred helping cleaning up rather than learning to cook.
What I haven't mentioned is that we frequently invited college students into our home, and not just any college students, but CULINARY students. It was admittedly a little intimidating! We also hosted parties and had our family come for overnight visits.
Planning for each opportunity seemed to take so much time and there seemed to be so many details to remember! I knew there had to be a way to make the planning easier!
This is how my hospitality journal began: to make planning easier!
At first it was a notebook where I would write my planning notes. This way I could look back and re-use already planned menus instead of thinking about everything all over again. Over time, my planning developed into more of a system.
Now I use a three-ring binder with a prepared form. I've found the binder to work well for now, my journal is always changing to meet my current needs. With my binder I am able to plan several events simultaneously, keeping them separated with dividers, shopping lists are easily included in each section, coupons can be kept in the front pockets, and paper invitations can be kept there, too.
In addition to keeping my planning all in one place, right now I also keep a list of people that we would like to have over or spend time with soon. When I'm planning our calendar, I reference my hospitality list and begin making plans with someone from the list. The more I have written down, the less I have to remember!
Each hospitality entry is divided into two main sections: planning and reflection. Today I'll share primarily about planning and tomorrow about reflecting.
For the planning portion, I have created a simple form that I keep in my binder. Here I record planning in the following areas:
- What: Will this be just coffee, dinner, or a party?
- When: Date and time
- Location: If not at your home, include address, phone number, contact person, etc.
- Guest List: Include phone numbers or mailing addresses. I highlight names when an RSVP is received, if applicable. Sometimes this is a separate page, but it is helpful to have all of this information close by when planning a larger event.
- Invitations: Will I invite in person, with a phone call, e-mail, or snail mail? When will invitation need to be given or mailed?
- Favors: Will I have any little gift for my guests? Anything to set at their place or by the door to give them as they leave? If overnight guests, am I prepared with items they may have forgotten or need?
- Menu: I write down everything, including details like the condiments. This helps me think through my grocery list and table setting, and also helps me not to forget something! The more detail you include, the more useful this will be for the future. Why plan and think through the details twice? Also consider how you will serve: sit down or buffet?
- Decorations: Will there be a theme? Any special music to play? Will I use any special paper goods or set the table any certain way? What serving dishes will I use? Do I need to move any furniture, clearly mark an entrance, or provide an area for coats? If there is anything I want to remember then I take pictures to include in my journal.
- Entertainment: Any special activities or entertainment for children? Are we planning to play any games? If it's a movie night then what movie will we be watching? For overnight guests, will we visit any area attractions? Will I provide information about the area?
- Notes: Are there pieces of furniture I want to move? Candles I want to remember to light? Do I need to pick up small toys because there will be a baby or maybe a high-chair or booster to set out or ask the parents to bring? Do I need to set out a trash bag or trash can for the party?
Your journal will suit your needs and look different from mine! I am simply offering an example of what works for me. Maybe there will be one thing that you can take away that will help you? I hope so!
How do you organize your hospitality planning?
Amy H. offered hospitality to college students for over 10 years as the wife of a collegiate minister. Today her ministry focuses on her husband (who now coordinates campus ministers in New England), three children (ages 2, 5, and 7), and friends both new and old.