Four Simple Ways to Bless People In Your Home This Holiday Season

|by | Simple Homemaking

By Lisa Burns, contributing writer.

This week I took my kids to Target. I can’t remember exactly what we needed, but I do know that we didn’t get everything on our list, because we had to go back a couple of days later. No one really complained about that.

At the end of one of our visits, the cashier handed my children toy catalogs to take home. That can only mean one thing.

The holiday season is here. 

No matter how big your house is (or isn't). Regardless of what you cook (or order in). Even if your kids are crazy, or you are tired, or your to-do list goes unfinished another day. You can offer up your home as a space to bless others this holiday season.

I have distinct memories of flipping through the Sears holiday catalog when I was a child. My brother and I would grab a pen and circle way more than we ever had hopes of receiving. It was a fun part of the holidays, and I don’t begrudge my children the chance to make similar memories. (Little do they know, though, that I bought their presents back in September…)

Of course, our goal is to make the holiday season about so much more than acquiring a few new play things.

First and foremost, this season– from the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving through the weeks following Christmas– is about Jesus. Enjoying Him. Soaking in and spreading out the gospel. Making His name great.

Sharing His love and our abundance through hospitality is a very real way we can do this. 

I am passionate about this topic, and thus spend a good bit of time writing about the importance of practicing hospitality, how to make it low-stress, and some of the common stumbling blocks which keep people from inviting others into their home.

No matter how big your house is (or isn’t). Regardless of what you cook (or order in). Even if your kids are crazy, or you are tired, or your to-do list goes unfinished another day, you can offer up your home as a space to bless others this holiday season. 

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Four Simple Ways to Bless People In Your Home This Holiday Season

 

1. Create a welcoming, comfortable space.

I enjoy decorating our home, especially during the holidays. Opening our bins of holiday decor is like greeting an old friend who is visiting at one of my favorite times of the year.  My children join in the fun, and we sip hot chocolate and play Christmas music while we figure out how to arrange the decorations this year (it’s never the same).

The act of decorating itself is a treasured tradition, but there is a greater purpose than simply having stockings hung up or a bowl of scented pine cones set out.

The time we spend decorating, and even cleaning and de-cluttering, is a very real way we serve our family and those who spend time in our homes. By creating spaces that are lovely, tidy, and filled with messages of hope and grace, we are giving our loved ones a place to rest, a place to build memories, a place to gather and share their lives.

You don’t need to invest a lot of money on the perfect decorations. Much of our decor is handmade or bought used and re-purposed in a new way. Simple decorations combined with a gracious and open heart often do the most to convey a spirit of hospitality.

Practical ways to make your home welcoming to guests:

1. An atmosphere of hospitality (for your family and guests alike) starts with your disposition. Keep things as simple as you need to so that you can set the tone by being calm and kind (rather than hurried and frazzled).

2. I am a busy mom and if having a spic and span house was a necessity before we could invite people over, then hospitality would never happen. Instead, I try to focus on cleaning a few spots which would be the most helpful to our guests. I always make sure the guest bathroom is cleaned with a fresh towel to dry hands and a good smelling candle burning. I also aim for an empty dishwasher so guests can help with dishes if they ask (which they almost always do). Comfortable places to sit and stand together, free of clutter, are also a priority.

3. Light a candle, diffuse oil, or heat stove-top potpourri. Play quiet music in the background. These things sound simple because they are, but they are easy ways to create a warm and welcoming space.

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2. Make it clear that you are more focused on them.

A common pitfall of hospitality is putting so much focus on planning the right menu and spending so much time getting our rooms ready, that in the hustle we neglect to give much thought to the people we are inviting into our homes.

A couple of years ago, my husband pointed out how I would often neglect saying hello to our guests when they would first arrive because I would be focused on whatever I was doing in the kitchen. Since then I have learned to make an effort to have the food prepared early (even just thirty minutes), and then to be ready and free to warmly greet our guests whenever they arrive.

There are so many things that can distract us from focusing on the people in our homes. Be intentional to set phones up on a shelf, to make eye contact, to ask good questions, and simply enjoy the time together.

Following up afterwards is another way to demonstrate care for people. Pay attention and remember what was shared (make a note if necessary), so that you can ask about it later. Write a short note and drop in the mail to let them know you are thankful for your time together and thinking of them.

3. Go outside of your circle.

I don’t know about you, but it can be easy for me to get into a habit of inviting the same families and friends over for dinner time and again. I know them. They know us. I don’t have to worry about what they will think of our house or wonder if we will be able to find conversation topics. It’s just easy.

When this becomes our practice, though, we miss out on some of the deepest and richest blessings God intended from practicing a life of hospitality. Blessings that come from putting others’ interests above your own, and from finding that there is ample grace to do hard things. 

“Home isn’t just about happy people making good memories. Home is the shelter where the lonely find rest and the sorrowing come to be comforted. Home is the place where struggles may be admitted and loneliness acknowledged. It’s the place where it is safe to admit how difficult, how dark, how lonely the world sometimes is. But it’s also the ground in which sorrows are sheltered and softened. Where, by the alchemy of welcome and acceptance, good food and conversation, candlelight and laughter, hope and even gratitude grow. As our own need drew others in, we learned that our reluctant generosity could become the seedbed for grace.” 
{Sally Clarkson, The Life-giving Home}

Instead of sticking to the tried and true guest list this holiday season, make it a goal as a family to extend hospitality to a new family, or a stranger who needs a place to celebrate. Or an acquaintance without loved ones in town. 

Open your homes to these, and then open your hearts as well. Let it be a place to practice community and to share the load. Just don’t expect to be the only one with something to give.

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4. Pray

How easy it would be to go through this whole list and neglect to spend time in prayer?! We are a people who love checklists because we can see the visible results of our efforts.

House tidied? Check. Candles lit? Check. Food warm in the oven? Check. Kids set the table? Check. Spent time in prayer? Oh, yeah.

God is more concerned with the heart than outward appearances. And so we should pray for our hearts and the hearts of our guests.

Four general ways to pray:

1. Pray for the attitude of a servant– the willingness to humbly and joyfully put others’ needs before our own. (Matthew 20:26-28, Philippians 2: 2-4)

2. Pray for relationships to be deepened — that hearts would be knit together in love, that friendships would go past the surface level how-do-you-do’s and into openness and honesty. (Colossians 2:2, James 5:16)

3. Pray for opportunities to encourage one another, admonish one another, serve one another, and refresh one another in the truth and hope of the gospel. (Romans 12:9-13, Hebrews 3:13)

4. Pray that above all, Jesus would be magnified– that the most significant takeaway would not be the tastiness of dinner or the neatness of your home, but the beauty and worth of Christ. (Colossians 1:18, Hebrews 1:3)

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I hope that you will look for opportunities to practice hospitality this season. It can be as simple as having a new friend over for coffee or setting one more place at the table for Thanksgiving!

When we give out of what we have been given, and open ourselves and our schedules to seek to be a blessing to others, we receive much more in return.

God bless friends! May this season be full of Jesus and hope and joy for you! 

6 Comments

6 Comments on Four Simple Ways to Bless People In Your Home This Holiday Season

  1. Kelly
    November 22, 2016 at 8:42 PM (9 months ago)

    I LOVE your list of specific ways to pray!!! I am not hosting Thanksgiving this year, but my husband and I have a 9 our car ride with our three small children and my father-in-law. I will definitely be praying through your list!
    Kelly recently posted…Free Printable Photo Christmas CardsMy Profile

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  2. Aimee Hadden
    November 22, 2016 at 12:55 PM (9 months ago)

    Yes!! Love this! I love lighting a candle a few minutes before guests arrive! I have to remind myself that people don’t remember a perfectly clean house as much as they remember feeling welcomed and loved.
    Aimee Hadden recently posted…Simple Strategies for Shopping on Black FridayMy Profile

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  3. Cathy Thomson
    November 19, 2016 at 2:36 AM (9 months ago)

    Very Helpful. Thanks for the reminder that God gives grace to do hard things. We’ve got two very young children (including a 4 month old) and are hospitable in fits and starts. Thanks for the challenge to invite people into our real life and to remind me that our home should and can be a blessing to others. I’m thinking easy food options are the way to go.
    Cathy Thomson recently posted…Gospel In The Everyday: AutumnMy Profile

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    • Katie Bennett
      November 30, 2016 at 4:39 PM (9 months ago)

      I feel like I’m just learning what it means to lean on God’s grace to do hard things, as you and Lisa described. It’s such a blessing to experience God’s power in my life as I allow Him to work through me. God bless you!
      Katie Bennett recently posted…On Staying Grateful and Content (Even on Cyber Monday)My Profile

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