We are in the middle of a kitchen renovation. Nice for me, we have builders coming in and getting it done so it isn’t dragging out as it would if we were doing it ourselves. But, that being said any building project always takes longer than first planned and our renno is no different! We have emptied the whole kitchen; boxed it up and spread those boxes all through the house. So living here is a bit crazy at the moment.
But we are still living our normal life; which means, we are still having people come over. Hospitality is about connecting with people, meeting people’s needs: it is not about how big my house is, how tidy my house is, how good my cooking skills are, or how decorated my table is. Those things are nice and sometimes we have the pleasure of those things but hospitality isn’t about those things at all.
So though my house is big – at the moment my space is small.
This has not been the first time I’ve been in this type of situation. Not long into our marriage we moved to the family farm and lived in the workman’s quarters which was a one room and bathroom set up. We had space in our little house for one other couple so when we had family or friends over we had to think creatively. Our next house was a caravan; we moved to our own farm across the country to the far north of Western Australia. We lived in a caravan and though it had an annex really it only had space for dining for four. When we had couples over for dinner to get to know families we had to think outside the box (literally! LOL)
8 Tips for hospitality when your space is small
So gleaning from my experience – including what I’m practising while my kitchen is being renovated – here are my tips for being hospitable when your space is small.
1-Know deep in your heart that it is about people
Hospitality is all about meeting people’s needs and we often think of that in material things such as food and shelter. But hospitality also fulfils an emotional and social need that people have – friendship. Hospitality is about relationships, not about your space and if this truth can be planted firmly in your heart you will be able to shower love and kindnesses on people regardless of your living situation.
2- Know that it is about being generous
The world paints a standard of hospitality with attractive food, served on matching plates, with colourful linens and candles. But God’s standard is simply generosity: to be generous with your time, your emotions, and yes, your possessions as well. When we are generous we are first of all acknowledging that all comes from God in the first place, and secondly we are giving value and honour to the people we are with.
3-Go outdoors whenever you can
Outdoors makes a great dining room – whether you do it in your backyard with a BBQ or a public park with a picnic/BBQ there are plenty of options for getting together with friends in a bigger space. Outdoors is also a great solution for when there are kids in the mix.
4- Meet in other locations
When we travel ‘back home / over east’ we like to catch up with our friends – but of course we don’t have our home with us. We’ve had some great times meeting up at other places – restaurants, cafes, indoor playgrounds, Ten Pin Bowling alley, etc. Doing this while on holidays has made us realise that we can do this when we are back home too – hospitality can happen in any location.
When our Nomi was a baby and sick one of the biggest blessings was how our friends looked after us. One of the things they did was brought dinner to our house. We still got to share time and food together, but I didn’t have to prepare it. Other times we go 50-50: I do the main course and our friends bring dessert and drinks. It is a false idea that we have to do all the work – sharing the load can mean you will get together with your friends more often. Something I’ve done a few times is phoned a friend and asked them to bring their dinner to my place that night – we have our dinner, they have their dinner – but we eat together. Sometimes we’ve pooled it together, sometimes we haven’t. This has been a fun way to do an impromptu stint of hospitality!
6-It’s not just about dinner
Not only do we not have to meet at my place to be hospitable, we don’t have to get together around the evening meal – different times of the day suits different people in different stages of life. We’ve done a few dessert only after the kids have gone to bed, maybe coffee and cake, maybe breakfast, maybe afternoon tea as we all have a swim! Doing something social at another time of the day can often be a savings financially too.
7-Use plastic (gasp!)
I know in this day and age of environmentally friendly choices we may not like to use plastic – but sometimes it is worth it. I often have a potluck with upto 50 sometimes 80 people. There is no way I have that much cutlery and if I did I wouldn’t want to wash it! So sometimes plastic just makes it easier – and when it is easy we tend to do it more often. We also use plastic at times when we are outdoors, or really tired. It simply helps with making clean up easier.
8-Keep food simple
If you do have folk over for food – for whatever meal or time of the day it may be – keep it simple. Very simple. You don’t want to be so exhausted from cooking that you can’t enjoy your friends, neither do you want to be so worried about everything turning out right that you are distracted in your conversation, as you pop up and down getting all the last minute details. I have worked on getting a small repertoire of easy meals that are my go-to whenever we have people over. Being a family of 6 adults, adding another family automatically makes it a big cook so I have learnt to keep it simple.
Overnight Guests when the space is small
During this time we have also had friends stay for a couple of nights with us. They have just joined in the fun of dining in the midst of a renovation – but having them here has reminded me of a few times we had guests come to stay when we didn’t have any room in the house for them to sleep.
- We borrowed a caravan and set up an outside bedroom
- We asked our neighbours if our guests could sleep in their guest room, though our guests ate and spent the day with us in our house
- We had our friends camp in our back yard in their own tent or caravan
- We moved out of our bedroom (or the kids moved out) and we gave our room to our guests (and we camped in the lounge room or kids shared with their siblings)
- Our guest slept in the lounge room on a sofa bed
Anything is possible if you have an open heart and a creative mind! Don’t let small spaces deter you from offering what you do have. You do have love, time, and a little bit of space.
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