I absolutely love hosting friends and family in our home. Especially for Christmas. Yes, this year was a bit crazy since we moved into our new home on December 14th, but I still loved it.
We were blessed to have my dad (Dadaw), then the Gregory family (plus a Whiting: the Gregorys surprised Noah by bringing his dear friend Stephen Whiting with them!), and then Linda and Ruth Perkins join us for lovely visits. Each visitor group was different, but that just makes hosting more fun: meeting the needs of the guest.
While we didn’t have any snow fall while our company was here, we still had some to enjoy in the yard and on the mountain. We live at the entrance to Cibola National Forest which has plenty of sledding spots, a ski area, and trails galore. We can walk to the forest from our house, so we took Dadaw on a hike and the Gregorys too.
We saw what we thought was a mountain lion track while with Dadaw, but we now believe it to be a bear track. Much better. I guess.
Dadaw loves to work, so… believe it or not… we organized the garage while he was here. It was his idea. We placed some items in our new storage shed (nicely organized, thanks to him and Noah) and got the garage in post-move shape. We also toted wood from the rental to here.
Per tradition, Dadaw made donuts with the kiddos for one breakfast. He’s been doing this with the children since HB was two. I love it. They love it. It’s a sugarfest.
My dad is also big on tradition building and memory making, so not only did we do the donuts, but we decorated gingerbread men, introduced him to some of our favorite movies (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Voyage of the Dawn Treader [yes, we skipped one!] ) and we all had lots of chat time with him, just visiting.
The Gregorys enjoy the snow and want to get their kiddos out in it as much as possible, so we hiked and went sledding every day. It surprises me how long kids will sled in the cold. They love it. Walking up, sliding down. Again and again and again.
Stephen was game for anything, but mostly hanging out with Noah. ;-)
We also enjoy relaxed time in fellowship (for the kids this is called play time). There were plenty of Littlest Pet Shop and Lego events happening. At night, we had Just Dance parties, a Monopoly rematch (Laurie won when they came in February… and she won again!), or movies. Fabulous time!
The Perkins, well, they are very low key and just want to do whatever, but Linda likes to see the snow, so they went sledding too! Linda is well known for her flip flops. While she did wear boots, she was still in shorts and short sleeve t-shirts. Crazy woman. She also is a world famous gift giver. Seriously.
She made the top ten ever for me by toting FIVE boxes of Candy Cane Joe Joe’s and a large UNsweetened Taco Casa tea for each all the way from Texas… just for me. Can you believe?
Here’s the deal: I love having these friends and family to visit. Truly. Even for eight days straight.
How do I host three different groups during Christmas one after another?
Here are my tips for hosting for many days and different groups during the holidays (or anytime, really):
- Keep meals low key. All meals. Yes, seriously.
- Ask them in advance what they will want to do.
- Make sure you use the assets you have in your home, family, and area. (ex: We have a lovely zoo nearby and live near sledding hills, so those are on our list of options.)
- Use paper plates and disposable utensils.
- Spend time alone in your room when you need it.
- Don’t hesitate to express your kiddos’ needs and offer an alternative for guests (ex: “My kids need to nap, but if yours don’t, would you like me to put a movie on?”)
- Have a buffer day before and after your guest time.
- Have a huge stack of blankets and sheets. We have a ton. Honestly, we could have more, probably, but it’s nice to have plenty. If you don’t have much, start scouring yard sales and thrift shops.
- Have the sleeping arrangements ready before guests arrive.
- Talk to your children about the plan and remind them that hospitality is a gift (aka: explain what hosting means).
- Make sure some of the activities are outdoors, if possible. There is something about fresh air that gives delight.
- Have large group activities that everyone can do and are active. Just Dance worked beautifully for us and was hilarious. If that’s not your cup of disco, look for other ideas (hide and seek, Twister, Wii games, charades, etc.).
- Have small group “break out” activities. We didn’t have to plan these because it came natural for our groups, but we have hung out several times now. The first time, we had LPS, Legos, Zoobs, board games, and more on the stand by for groups of guests to play.
- Have a basic plan, but stay flexible.
- Pray. No, seriously. Pray on your own and, if your guests are open to it, together.
- Keep a sense of humor. Laughter really is a beautiful medicine.
- Take Vitamin C and/or GFSE. It’s just that time of year. Colds and coughs are everywhere.
- Serve chai latte. Your guests will love you. Ok, ok… I guess some people prefer bitter mud (aka: coffee).
While I was exhausted at the end of our hosting time, that was mostly due to moving and setting up house the week before they arrived. Seriously.
I loved my time with our guests and enjoyed their visits tremendously.
You can apply these tips to any visit, any time. Don’t hold back on walking in hospitality. You don’t have to have a lot of money (we don’t!), or a lot of fancy items (seriously, we don’t!), or impressive meals (again, we don’t!)… you just have to be willing to share your home, time, and family. Keep it simple and place your focus on the people.
Since our move in May of 2012, we have hosted over 43 people here in more than 20 visits. I have loved it. Because of the many guests, the list above has become my way of life as a hostess. I don’t make fancy desserts or anything complicated. I focus on the relationships.
I look forward to having more guests this year!
How do you keep hosting/hospitality enjoyable for everyone?