The phone caller went right to the point: “Hi, can you help me? We’ve got five college students arriving to help in our ministry for a week. They’ll be here in two days, and the family that was going to host them had an emergency and had to leave town. Do you have room? And we were going to have a dinner and games night for them—can you host that too?”
Actually, having the guys stay here would be no trouble at all. We have a guest room plenty of floor space. College students can sleep on the floor, right? The dinner and games night would be a bit more work, but I figured that feeding five extra mouths was doable.
Five students, two of us. No problem.
The phone rings about three o’clock on a busy afternoon. Pete wants to bring someone home for dinner. Is it all right with me? With a hurried look at my to-do list, and a quick prayer for help, I agree. He hangs up happy, and I start wracking my brain. I’m suddenly feeding someone I’ve never met before. What should I serve?
This is actually a pretty common scenario at our house. Pete collaborates with ministries all over the world, and he frequently invites out-of-town visitors for a home-cooked meal. As hostess, I want to make these guests feel welcome, while filling them with good food. With years of practice, I’ve learned some helpful tips, which I now pass on to you.
For the most part, you can serve your company the same food you’d normally eat. It is their part to be gracious and thankful for whatever you offer. Don’t feel pressured into putting on a special feast, or spending a lot on expensive ingredients. Not everyone is a gourmet chef.
Guests are coming! Does that inspire you with thoughts of time spent with friends or family? Or does that phrase strike terror into your domestic heart?
I grew up in a house where guests were a Big Deal. We only had dinner guests a few times a year, and I can’t remember ever having anyone spend the night with us, even though we had plenty of space.
When guests were coming for dinner, my mom would pull out her tried-and-true menu of baked ham, a convenience food version of au gratin potatoes (I called them o’rotten potatoes!) and frozen peas. There’s nothing wrong with having a “signature” meal… but every time? While her cooking was perfectly fine, my mother lacked confidence, and this was a sure bet.