Sunday Snippet: Hospitality – A Matter of Giving and Receiving…

Two weeks ago I posted a Sunday Snippet: Hospitality Begins at Home… and I have been thinking about it ever since… If hospitality begins at home then where does it end? And I think that it is dawning in me that hospitality is not so much about opening your home and more about opening your heart… Being open to hospitality really means being open to both giving and receiving it. And here comes my steepest learning curve ever!!!


While I am happy to have visitors streaming through my home almost constantly I find accepting hospitality extremely difficult – really I do!!! When you have a larger than average family you don’t ever expect to be invited over to visit folk. We travel as a pack, seriously it must be overwhelming to consider!!! When we are invited round I tend to put it off – I really don’t want to impose, and I don’t want to be a burden to others. In fact for folk that aren’t used to making thirty meals a day every day I assume they may well be a little mad to think of asking us over!!! But just as I needed to think about giving the gift of giving, I also need to think about giving others the opportunity to offer us hospitality…

So I am working on accepting hospitality and because of that I am working on a few little behavior tweeks around here to make us just slightly better guests – really it is the least we can do.

  1. The Last Resort: For yourself, keep in mind that your kids are a lot more flexible than you think they are and ours generally rise to the occasion when they are out. However, we have had our fair share of disasters and keep in mind that most parents have been through that. Sometimes you may just have to call it a day and get your kids home. I find it reassuring to know that if the wheels absolutely come off then we can just say we are terribly sorry and leave – we have never had to, but knowing that we have that “last resort card” in our back pocket gives me the confidence to keep going!!!
  2. If It Isn’t Yours Don’t Touch It: I know my little girls love visiting their one granny because her bathroom is packed with the cutest soaps and creams and oh my goodness girly heaven… Oh their minimalist mother has clearly failed them!!! They love to go to the bathroom and they vanish for hours to “wash their hands”. It is one thing at grannies house but not at every house!!! And as for gadgets and electronic equipment – stay well away… I can hope!!!
  3. Table Manners: No matter how starving you are you can not help yourself to food in someone else’s home and when food is offered you don’t behave like a starving refugee. No matter what the homeowner says you may not eat an entire tray of cookies… This might seem obvious but trust me it is a whole new idea for some of us – every time we visit somebody!!! Otherwise offer to help with the meal, it might seem obvious to help at home but when we are visiting it is quite easy to forget that the host is probably not used to cooking a veritable banquet!!!
  4. You Are There To Socialize: I confess this is much more my problem than my “very outgoing” kids. You can’t just collapse on their couch to read a book or wander off to play with their toys, even though someone else’s things are so much more appealing than your own. Firstly you need to ask to use someone else’s things and secondly when you are visiting you are actually there to socialize.
  5. Child Proofing: What’s safe in my house isn’t necessarily safe in someone else’s house… I live in terror of keys in bathroom doors (images of children locked in windowless rooms spring to mind)… my kids need to know that they must obey the rules of the home they are visiting. Just like our house-rules keep us safe at home their house rules are there for a reason.
  6. Our Rules: The rules from home continue to apply when we are out, you still care for your younger siblings, you still make sure that they are safe and happy. You don’t suddenly decide to eat or drink food that you wouldn’t be allowed to have at home. Now I know this might seem obvious, but when a child who only drinks water at home is offered three cans of soda in an afternoon trust me you will wish they had said “No-Thank-You, my parents wouldn’t like that.” Trust me on this!!!
  7. A Code Word: Now often when you are out and about your kids will do something completely “off the wall” or “out of the bush” and you can’t necessarily say “Hay kiddo, I think you might have just forgotten yourself completely?”… We have an inconspicuous code word that will stop most of my kids in their tracks and make them think a little before they change direction and move on!!! And I know you will ask what’s ours, you will have to find your own one!!!
  8. And the “Se7en + 1″th thing:

  9. An Escape Route: Just because we are out as a family doesn’t mean that my kids don’t go out without me or end up sitting with the kids while we are chatting with the adults. My folks weren’t big on rules, maybe they were but I didn’t notice!!! But there was one thing my mom always said I could use: If I am ever uncomfortable or don’t want to do something that everyone else is doing I can say: “My folks don’t allow that.” Sometimes it is better to be a bit embarrassed and get out of a situation than it is to end up in a situation that you would rather not be in.

That’s it for now, I know there are more things I could be working on but it’s a start. Hopefully in the school of life I am enabling our kids to be better guests and so allow others to “practice their hospitality.”

This Post was hammered out as part of The Thirty Minute Mom’s Challenge at Steady Mom. The photographs were taken from my flickr pool, so didn’t need load up time.

11 Replies to “Sunday Snippet: Hospitality – A Matter of Giving and Receiving…”

  1. I really like the ideas of a code word and giving them an out if they are uncomfortable with doing something. than kyou

    we recently had out of town guests for 5 days and then stayed over a stranger’s last night for a wedding today. by noon we were both done.

    well he was done last night and started crying to go home but today when he started growling at people I said I’m leaving. we did family time, we went to a barbq where they yelled at him for bringing mud in the house (even though everyone else was tracking it in), we stayed at a stranger’s home (and it was very gracious of them to have us and we thanked them properly), we did the wedding and pictures though he kept calling telling the photographer “stop it you mean lady” (hey it made everyone have very natural smiles laughing at him and she didn’t hear him) and we did the luncheon till 4 o’clock this afternoon. the reception wasn’t till 6 and we had had enough.

    I said goodbye to the impt people and we are not staying for the reception, sorry. and we came home. its a two hour drive but I didn’t want to do it tonight in the dark through canyons with wild deer running in front of me, etc.

    I think that’s most impt – decide for you and your family when enough is enough and get to a place where you can be peaceful and calm. sometimes its just going into a room and closing a door. a video. putting stickers on a paper or something. it was especially frustrating for me today cause everywhere I went there were unsupervised, acting out children…and I got tired of them! its bizarre to me that parents can just go and party and ignore their children.

    e.g., I was in a playroom at one home for 45 min with my son and we played, left it clean. came back 10 min later and a child who was not there when we left or came back had destroyed it. everything in every box was dumped on the floor. we had to clean it up to play there again. so frustrating.

  2. This is such a timely post! While we don’t have quite so large a pack we do have a child with very specific food allergies. It’s hard for me to remember that sometimes people actually do want to make the effort to cook safely for him.

    Love reading about your family.

  3. Hay KM, I was so excited to win something, I so didn’t expect it that I didn’t even notice our name!!! Now I can’t wait to hear from them!!! Of course I will post it!!! Lots of love and have a great week…

  4. Hi N, It sounds like you guys are totally “hospitalitied out…” I so hear what you are saying isn’t it often the adults that are behaving badly that complain the most about the kids who are just being kids. And I so hear you about calling it a day when you are done. I guess when you are close to your kids and in tune with them that you know when times up but not all folks are so in tune and often just aren’t aware that they should have “quit while they were ahead!!!” Hope you two have a nice break today… and do some peaceful puttering!!!

  5. Hi C, We also have food allergies and when my kids were small it was such a hassle… always having adults tempt them -” Just a little won’t matter…” Well just a little will matter when you stop breathing!!! Now they are older they are so much more able to say “NO” because they know the consequences. Our older kids are so concerned for the younger ones that they wouldn’t dream of letting someone feed them something they couldn’t have. I know often folk can serve an entire meal packed with things my kids can’t have… a little peanut oil or some special soya bread – gasp!!! I usually offer to bring some fresh bread or gift the host with some fruit then I know there will be something to eat if my kids are desperate!!! And now that they are older they know that it is better to just wait until later, I know they are hungry and will sort it out soonest and there is no point in going on about it!!! I don’t think people purposefully would ever serve something my kids can’t have and I have found if I am straight up and say my kids can’t have “whatever” that it saves the day before their is a problem. You are right… so many people want to go the extra mile, as we would, we just forget to expect it!!!

  6. Hi Se7en, I am just in awe of how you can cook for your family PLUS visitors – and during the week too! – and if I remember correctly from your post a couple of weeks back, you entertained every night for a few weeks. WOW! I am amazed at how you do it. I get myself in a total state when visitors are coming over …. I run around doing such a massive tidy-up that I’m too exhausted to enjoy our guests. And then, the menu is always a big stress for me. Please post some good ideas of what to serve i.e. inexpensive, quick and easy to prepare and which doesn’t involve me being in the kitchen while everyone else is chatting in another room (our kitchen isn’t as big as yours!!!) Thanks for keeping me inspired!

  7. Hi S… I am going to think about this one and answer it with a post in the next week or two!!! Thanks for asking, I love filling in the gaps!!! Have a good day!!!

  8. Thank you for this post. Great practical ideas to accomplish something important – really thanks! Number 3 (you know my kids!), 4 and 8 hit home for me!!

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