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Practical Hospitality 101

Updated: Apr 12, 2018

Imagine it’s Thursday evening. It's been a long day at work and definitely one of “those” weeks! On the way home, you’re trying to figure out what is in the fridge and pantry that takes the least amount of effort to put something on the table that your family would describe as dinner. Your cell phone rings as you are walking in your door. It’s a new friend you just recently became acquainted with at work. She’s had one of “those” years and needs a heaping teaspoon of hope. Here are your options.

  1. Don’t answer the phone.

  2. Answer, but explain that you’ll have to get back to her later.

  3. Answer, knowing she needs your time, listening ear, and some company, invite her to come on over for dinner.

When you are living a life of hospitality, your heart will always choose option #3, the dinner invitation. However, your house and pantry may scream, “PICK #2!” Mostly, we choose #2 because in our culture we are rarely prepared for last minute dinner guests. Over the years, I have learned to keep certain things in my freezer, fridge, and pantry expecting that at any time, a last minute guest or last minute opportunity for hospitality will come up.

Here are some practical tips to make having last minute guests over for dinner, more doable:


Dinner does not have to be complicated. In fact, the more casual it is, the more people feel right at home and will be relaxed.

  • Find a couple of 30-minute recipes in which ingredients are always on your grocery list. Anything with a protein, instant rice, soup mix, and a frozen vegetable warms the tummy and the heart.

  • For me it’s Taco Soup (Pastor Leonard Molone’s version), or Fiesta Dinner (Kay Weaver’s version). I will always keep ground beef in the freezer, and the ingredients in my pantry. Check out these two recipes at the end of this post.

  • Breakfast for dinner ideas. Pancakes, French toast, eggs, and bacon, are always a hit no matter the time of day.

  • And then there’s the always-popular… pizza delivery! In fact, one of my favorite hospitality memories happened in my home over boxed pizza served on paper plates and juice boxes.


Remember, people are more important than your housekeeping. Another obstacle we face in being prepared for hospitality is the unrealistic notion that our homes must look like a photoshoot of an interior design magazine before we can invite people over. Get over it, it’s not true!

We LIVE in our homes. We take our shoes off in the living room, our kids leave their homework on the coffee table, my husband leaves his coffee cup next to his recliner, and there is laundry to be folded on the couch, and someone has left their dirty clothes in the bathroom after showering. These are all signs of life, a good life, living in a home with people you love. However, when people are coming over last minute, it can feel like the guest is the state health department inspector… there’s a 99% chance they are not.

Here’s my 5 minute house-straightening routine:

  • Living Area (1 minute) - Keep a laundry basket in the corner of the living room and put all the extra items (you know, the socks and shoes, homework, kid’s toys, etc.) in there, throw a blanket over the top of it, and put it back in the corner. Yes, I know it would be best to put all the items in their place, but seriously, you only have 5 minutes until the doorbell rings!

  • Kitchen (2 minutes) - Dirty dishes go in the sink, or dishwasher (if it’s empty). Mine rarely is these days, and I’ve been known to hide dirty dishes in the oven before!  Quickly wipe down counter tops.

  • BATHROOM!! (2 minutes) - Grab paper towels and an all-purpose cleaner and spray the vanity, sink, and toilet. Wipe down the surfaces in that same order. Throw the kids dirty clothes in the tub or shower and close the shower curtain or shower doors. Check for adequate supply of toilet paper and hand soap, and put out a fresh hand towel.

Now that you’re already at the five minute mark, you’re probably thinking, “What about the bedrooms?! They are a disaster!” Well, its dinner, not a sleepover, silly. Close the bedroom doors. Most people will not open a closed door when visiting someone’s home. If you’re really concerned that they might, then put Police Line Caution Tape over the door and draw a chalk outline of a body outside the door. Trust me, they won’t open it.

I’m frequently reminded of Martha and Mary from Luke 10:38-42. Martha, was a task-oriented person and Mary, was a relational person. Martha was always prepared for 13 scruffy, dirty, well-traveled men to just show up for rest and a meal. Most sermons or stories you hear about Martha are negative. Jesus corrected her because she was overly concerned with dinner preparations, rather than relationship. However, that’s exactly how God made Martha, the ultimate Girl Scout, CEO, and event planner. Christ gave instruction that day to Martha about priorities. Yes, feeding 13 people was important and needed to be done, but spending time with those people is more important. His words to her: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things (referring to the work and preparations for dinner and guests), but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Choose time with people over preparations every time.

Hospitality in Action Tip #4:

Prepare for impromptu hospitality by keeping your pantry stocked with ingredients for quick and easy guest meals.

Leonard Molone's Taco Soup

2 lb. lean ground round

2 cans stewed tomatoes

1 can kidney beans

1 can pinto beans

1 can hominy

1 can chopped green chilies

1 (1.5 oz.) pkg. taco seasoning

1 (1.5 oz.) pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch mix

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

3 T. picante sauce

1 sm. onion, chopped

Cook the onion for a few minutes before mixing with meat; brown. Pour off fat after browning meat. Add other ingredients, undrained, and mix well. Allow to simmer 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Fiesta Dinner

1 1/2 lb. ground beef

1 can kidney beans

1 can chili

1 onion

1 c. cheese, grated

1 can tomoatoes

Salt & pepper

Worcestershire sauce


Brown beef and onions. Add other ingredients. Let simmer. In casserole, place layer of tortillas, layer of mixture, layer of cheese until casserole is full, ending with cheese layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Yield: 1 (8x8-inch) casserole.


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