How I Make Hospitality Easier on Myself

We try to keep an open-door policy in our home. As long as we are home and healthy, we want others to feel free to come over. Our goal is to invite others to come over for dinner every other week or so. Due to my husband’s job as a seminary professor and advisor for a student group, we also frequently have groups of students over during the school year.

Of course, this ebbs and flows depending on our schedules and that of others. However, our desire to have people in our home regularly has created a need to always be prepared to do so. There are two “problems” with this. First, I am not a great housekeeper. Most of the time, my house is generally clean. However, it’s certainly not Monica Gellar approved and not always in a state ready for last minute guests. I don’t have the gift of “everything-has-a-place,” and taking care of two toddlers combined with a full-time job means our stuff is generally scattered. Second, I am a schedule person. If someone is coming over, I like to know in advance so I can plan a meal and clean. If I lean into these “problems,” it cuts against the open-door policy we’d prefer to keep with our home. So, knowing these things about myself, I’ve tried to implement some habits that help me feel prepared to have people over at a moment’s notice.

Stocked Freezer

My schedule is flexible enough to make it to the grocery store if we have people coming over last minute. However, it still makes things easier if I have the freezer and pantry stocked with ingredients for easy meals that can feed anywhere from 1-20 people. It’s one less thing to worry about if something comes up on the day of their visit. This includes:

  • Anything I keep in the freezer must be able to thaw quickly. I absolutely will not remember to pull out a frozen item with enough time to thaw. So it has to be able to thaw as late as the afternoon before someone comes over.
  • I buy ground beef, chicken breasts, and sometimes pork loin in bulk, cook it all on the same day, shred the chicken and pork, then freeze the cooked meat in portion sizes suitable for one meal. The vast majority of meals we eat use one of these meats, so this saves me a ton of time when cooking dinner.
  • I cook a huge pot of spaghetti sauce. I use this recipe, slightly altered and divide it into large and small containers for the freezer. I can pull out bigger containers for more people or vice versa. I always have dry noodles on hand and I usually keep a loaf of garlic bread in the freezer.
  • During colder months, I make chili or various kinds of soup and freeze it the same way I do spaghetti sauce. Conveniently, doing this also helps me have a meal to share with others at the last minute, even if they’re not coming to our house. We had some friends come down with a virus last spring, and I was able to send them some chicken soup out of my freezer.
  • We always have large packs of frozen hamburgers in the freezer. We buy them at Sam’s and pull them out for a crowd.

I don’t always use freezer food for friends who are coming over, but it’s good to know I have a backup if Plan A falls through.

Sam’s Membership

I have never liked paying for a membership to anything. But, when we moved back to Wake Forest a couple of years ago, we were able to take advantage of a promotion to get a free membership to Sam’s for a year. We’ve since been convinced to keep paying for it.

Since we have larger groups of people over regularly, a Sam’s membership has made it easier to get food for a crowd. Though everything I buy isn’t technically cheaper than purchasing at Walmart, many things are either less expensive or cost the same. And, it’s a convenient option when we don’t want to go to more than one store.

Cleaning Goals

I recently saw a tweet that resonated—though not necessarily because I totally agreed with it. I believe the tweet has been deleted, so I can’t quote it word-for-word. The gist was this: that the incessant need for a clean house is one of the greatest obstacles to hospitality.

I mostly agree with the statement. I don’t think we should neglect hospitality just because we don’t keep a clean home. If we have to choose one or the other, then we should choose hospitality. However, I also don’t think it’s wrong to desire to host friends and family in a home that’s clean (noticed I just said “clean,” not “clean and free of clutter”).

I don’t want to live in a filthy home and I don’t want others coming over to a filthy home. As I said before, I hate cleaning. So, I have tried to implement better habits of cleaning so that I’m either ready for someone to come over last minute, or I’m not scrambling the day of someone’s visit to clean the entire house. It may be better to call them “goals” or “aspirations,” seeing as the regularity with which I practice them is lacking.

This includes mostly things that would be really obvious to some, but are necessary for me:

  • Not leaving dirty dishes in the sink when I go to bed.
  • Unloading clean dishes out of the dishwasher first thing in the morning (so dirty dishes don’t pile up while waiting for the dishwasher to be empty).
  • Wiping down the bathroom with Clorox wipes between deep cleanings.
  • Having the kids pick up their toys every night before bed.
  • Throwing all other clutter into my room, so at least the common spaces are clean.

That last one is truly real-life. I don’t like it, but it is what it is for this season. I’m not consistent with these habits (it takes me an obscenely long time to regroup after being out of town and we travel fairly often), so I often end up scrambling to clean up anyway. At the end of the day, I try to make the house presentable—not spotless.


Here are a few other random ways I try to make hospitality easier on myself:

  • My husband and I share our calendars with each other to make it easier to choose dates to have people over.
  • I keep a box of baby toys in my kids’ closet. These are toys that my kids have outgrown, but I can pull them out for friends who come over with younger babies.
  • I will sometimes take people up on their offer to bring something. Most people we invite over offer to contribute to the meal. I don’t always need them to, but if I know I won’t have time to run to the store to grab a side or salad, I’ll have them bring one.
  • I don’t worry about providing special drinks or desserts. Most people are ok drinking water (which is all we drink at home) and they don’t care about having dessert. I do like to bake, so if I have time, I will let the kids help me make cookies or something. However, it’s not something I put pressure on myself to make.
  • I ask people in advance about allergies or dietary restrictions so, if necessary, I can plan a meal that works for them.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash