A reader recently wrote me and asked: Could you blog about any cost cutting tips you have in regards to hospitality?
First let me start by saying that hospitality is not a gift, it is a command if you are a Christian. "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.…" (1 Peter 4:8-10)
Notice the commands surrounding the part about being hospitable: keep fervent love for one another and serve one another with the gifts you have been given. Those are not things for us to choose to do, we are called to do them as Christian women and that is also the case with being hospitable. Some people may be better at it than you but you are just as called to invite others into your home as those who are "better at it".
For further encouragement on hospitality be sure to check out my husband's sermon!
Keep in mind since hospitality is something God commands then surely He is acquainted with the fact that it costs money, it is not a surprise to Him :)
Let me put in a plug (again) for DEBT FREE LIVING! Pursue it with all your might! Debt free living makes GIVING so much easier and more enjoyable. Hospitality really is just another form of giving, not just of your home, but also of your time and finances. Make this form of giving more within your reach by denying other things you want to buy.
If you are a budgeting family (which I recommend) check out Dave Ramsey budgeting stuff here. Once you have a budget then you will definitely want to incorporate hospitality into it.
Scott and I have always loved to have people over. It really is our only hobby. We don't hike, or camp or go shopping. I don't sew or knit or ride a bike. He doesn't work on cars or build things... although he is getting into writing!
Before moving to WA we had spent the first 5 years of marriage in CA. At one point we were hosting THREE HOME FELLOWSHIPS A WEEK! One was the youth group, the other was a young adults group and then on Sunday evening we hosted another adult home fellowship. I only had 1-3 kids in those five years and it was much more manageable. On top of that I would host random mommy-kiddo play dates and host family and friends for overnight visits.
Let's look at the possible expenses with hosting:
- Water (toilet, washing extra dishes, sprinkler for summertime play dates :)
- Paper products
- Little gifts (tea parties, birthday parties, special guests)
- Basket of extra necessities (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant etc.)
- Extra toilet paper! :)
That's a short list that comes to my mind quickly when thinking of practicing hospitality.
Here are some cost cutting hospitality ideas:
1. Potlucks! Talk about cutting your costs! I am not ashamed to host people and have potlucks! ;) If you are providing the space then there is nothing wrong with everyone pitching in for the most time laboring and expensive part: THE FOOD! We have a potluck every week at our house now for our Wednesday night home fellowship and it's a big hit!
2. Tea Parties. I look for clearance prices on teas when at the grocery store. Don't ever buy tea full price! Second I like to look for economical choices on what to make. Like shortbread! and fruit that is on sale at the time. If your kids are like mine, tea ain't really their thang so we usually do hot cocoa parties. I get a big tub of it since it's much cheaper per ounce than the packets and then I just mix the cocoa together in the tea pot and put the tea pot on the table. We do tea parties randomly and have even used it as a witnessing tool inviting one of our little unsaved neighbor girls over to share Christ with her through books and coloring and talking. Makes me want to do one this week!
3. Birthday Parties. Birthday parties can be VERY pricey if you aren't careful and intentional. First, let me tell you that I don't do "take home bags". I hate when my kids get a bag full of junk for me to throw away and pick up around the house. Second, we often just do cake and ice cream and invite families to come over at 7. Who says you have to do some big meal? I must say though that since our kids have gotten older and since we have no debt, that we are willing to be a bit more extravagant in our birthday parties.
4. Having people over for dessert (instead of dinner). This has been a major game changer for me. Having five littles and making a big meal is A LOT OF WORK. Forget about the money! It takes a lot of time and patience to make a meal for two families with little people pulling on your legs. So now Scott and I invite people over at 7 for dessert and fellowship. I often just make "cake cookies"! The easiest, cheapest and yet yummy option! I just got a bunch of boxes of Betty Crocker cake mix for $1.50 each! ******Recipe: One box of cake mix (anyone you choose), 2 eggs and 1/4 to 1/3 cup oil. Bake at 350 until they crack on top (around 10 min.). Let sit on pan for at least 5 min. and transfer to cooling rack. Once cooled we like to frost them.******* I also stock up on frosting when they are on sale/clearance. Or get a big bag of powdered sugar to make your own frosting. Lastly, we like to buy sprinkles at the dollar store or again, when they are on clearance. I always have a big stock pile of these items! Plus the kids love decorating them and Rhea can make them by herself since they are so easy! Another great option to have along side these cookies is popcorn. Could it get any cheaper than popcorn?! My husband prefers the airpopper and I prefer stove top. I put enough oil (coconut is yummy or just good ole canola oil) on the bottom of a big pan to cover the bottom. Then I put in kernels (much cheaper than bagged popcorn you put in the microwave). I put in enough kernels to cover the bottom as well (better too little than too much because too much leads to burning). Then you shake the pan vigorously until almost all the kernels are done popping. If you want kettle corn you can stir in sugar together with oil and kernels before popping. When finished salt it and eat up! Always a big, yummy, cheap hit! ( I also do garlic salt sometimes!)
5. Look for frugal and creative ways to furnish a home that is guest friendly/ideal for hospitality. Craigslist and yardsales people! So I am sitting in our living room and dining room (which are really one big room) right now looking around at our house. We have 3 sofas, one sectional, two recliners, three dressers (that I use for storing homeschooling stuff and paper products and use as buffets when we have company) and two dining room tables (we also have some card tables folded up and metal chairs for extra seating that we got for free). One of the tables was my husband's when we got married (I completely changed it! It was a plain oak table and I sanded it down, stained the top black and chalk painted the legs. I will have to do a tutorial on that too!) and the other table was purchased off of craigslist for $250 with all six chairs ( a huge table by the way). The table my husband had when got married came with six chairs. We now have four left (hey! 12 years and lots of kids=lots of abuse). I chalk painted them and use them as extra chairs. The other chairs we now use at the table were given to us for free. I spray painted them as well and covered the cloth on the chairs with this (not this pattern) kid friendly oil cloth (which is cheaper through Michael's by the way). Lastly, for the dining room table, I have a bench that seats three children that I got for $20 with a store credit at a local consignment shop. Two of our sofas were also my husband's when we got married. One of the recliners was given to us and one was 50% off a few years ago at Fred Meyers (promise me you will NEVER buy something full price :) The last piece in the living room, the sectional, was a splurge. I had researched craigslist and yard sales for weeks and was finding that $800-$1000 was normal for USED sectionals! I couldn't believe it. We ended up getting one off of amazon brand new for $500 with free shipping. Given that it feels like IKEA furniture but we are still happy with it. Lastly, the dressers! I Love my dressers! I got them all for free! Two were in my dad's storage shed (looking tore up!) and the other was in the house when we moved in. I will be doing a post on how I got these babies fixed up soon!
6. Paper products and toilet paper. I'll admit it. We do plastic cups... maybe that will change some day, but for now we put a sharpie out by the cups and call it good. Our home fellowship can have around 40 people on a Wednesday night and I just don't want to wash that many cups! I buy ours at Costco. Also, like I mentioned earlier, this is a splurge we feel comfortable making since we have no debt. For all other paper products (napkins, paper plates, plastic forks and toilet paper) I do "subscribe and save" through amazon.
I think that's it for now! Let me know if you have any ideas to contribute or any other questions!
Pictures below of our house. Sorry they are so blurry! Follow me on Instagram to see better pics :)
|Part of our living room with our sectional.|
|One of our tables for Christmas dinner.|
|Two of our dining room tables and the round table is one we borrowed from our church. The round table has the chalk painted chairs around it!|
|My dressers! I use two to put food on when company is over and one of them for the drinks.|