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 calendar says November, Thanksgiving is two weeks away, and Christmas isn’t far behind. For years you’ve extended invitations to everyone in your family, and no one has come to visit. But this year…. Your sister just announced that she and her husband are bringing their eight kids. Five minutes later your in-laws called to say they’re finally free this year. Your other sister found out everyone was coming, and didn’t want to miss the excitement. And by the way, can she bring her (humongous) dog? And her boyfriend?
At first you were excited about having a family reunion… but now reality is setting in. Where will you put them all? How will you help them feel welcome?
Pete and I once successfully hosted twelve family members (in addition to our nuclear family of four) in our three-bedroom house… for an entire week. (Five more people stayed with a neighbor, but ate with us.) It would easy now that our kids are grown and on their own—we have two dedicated guest rooms plus another bed in my home office. But we used to live in an area where housing prices were very high, and houses were very small. Where did we put our overnight guests then?
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.