The Random Writings of Rachel: Who's in Your House?

Who's in Your House?

I grew up in a home where the door was always open to visitors. We had relatives and friends stay with us for week-long visits many times, and my Mom was quick to volunteer to host holiday dinners and family parties. There was a season when we lived in Texas when I think we had an average of 3-4 company dinners a week over the course of 4 months.

To this day, I rarely Skype my family at a time that there isn't someone who doesn't technically live in our home spending time there. I'm impressed with my Mom for all the times she's accommodated an unexpected guest at the dinner table--and all the times she's put up with my friends spending time at my house till 2 in the morning or later. In high school, my house was the one where everyone congregated, where movie nights and game nights and parties for whatever reason were always held. I loved that.

 Domino cookies for my Domino-themed 18th birthday party.

Some of the food at our engagement party. About 100 people were in our house that day!

All this to say, hospitality is a very strong value for me. I love being able to invite people into my home and to host parties for friends and family. When I lived with my grandparents, I no longer had the freedom to invite friends over for a movie or dinner or games, and that was frustrating. Whenever groups of us were trying to figure out a place to hang out, I couldn't volunteer my home.

As you can imagine, one of the things I was most excited about when I got married was the prospect of having my own home so that I could host guests again. Angel and I pray for opportunities to show hospitality and the wisdom to take such opportunities when offered. Three weeks after we got married, my relatives asked us to host the Christmas dinner at our home because the aunt who was going to host it was sick. We had nothing to host with, but we said "Yes!" It was a "bring your own table and chairs" kind of party but it was fun! A few weeks after that, a volunteer speaker at a Bible study meeting we went to suddenly found out that her accommodations for the night had fallen through. She had travel arrangements for the next day, but she needed somewhere to spend the night. We brought her home, and she slept on our living room couch, because at that time we didn't have a guest bedroom.

In the past few years, it's been my pleasure to throw my own college graduation party and my 21st birthday party, along with a number of New Year's Eve, Summer, and Fall parties. We've had plenty of friends over for a game of Apples to Apples on the living room floor or grilled tandoori served and eaten on the picnic table. Those are my favorite memories of living in this house--those when I was sharing it with the people I love.

 My grad party cookies. Putting that B.A. to work.
 Just, ya know. Pretending to cook in my cheongsam. (Everybody knows you don't change into your party clothes till the cooking is done!)

This fall and winter, I've got big plans. There's rumors of another event requiring a piƱata and my parents and siblings will be spending some time staying with us. Technically, we don't have enough beds for all of those bodies, but we've got a couch and plenty of floor space. 

Let this be an encouragement to you: your home doesn't have to be completely furnished and decorated before you can invite people in. You don't have to spend tons of money on decor or food, and you don't have to spend countless hours on preparation (my go to main dishes for parties of 20-30+? hamburgers, chili, or tacos de carne asada). Parties don't even have to make a big mess (if at all possible, I host outdoors:  no crumbs to sweep up.)

I'm passionate about hospitality. Maybe I should rephrase that. I'm passionate about imperfect hospitality. It may not be everyone's thing. Inviting people into your space might not be fun for you at all. I know people who are happiest when they invite people over for 3 course meals complete with place mats, a full setting of silverware, fine china, and fresh flower centerpieces. There's a place for that, and I would love to be invited to a fine dinner party someday, but if lack of perfection is stopping you from inviting friends over, maybe you ought to give imperfection another chance. It could be fun.

What's your favorite type of get-together to host? (And was it overly crazy that we let a complete stranger sleep on our couch with no warning ahead of time? I still think that's a little outside-the-box, even for us.)

25 comments:

  1. I love love throwing parties! hhaha. and one time i burned (beyond recognition) the main meal. so we just ordered pizza :P

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  2. i think this is why peppy and i want to have a bed and breakfast so badly. i don't really like when people pop in unexpectedly, but i do love to host guests. i really enjoy planning the boys' birthdays and look forward to having 30+ family members over.

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  3. I'm so glad you wrote this the way you did. Hospitality is your openness more than your resources! People (sadly, especially here in blogland) do it up with fancy themed everything, and that's nice, but with the wrong heart, it's worthless. I've definitely been frustrated that our tiny apartment can only offer so much, but we love having people over regardless and make it work like you said. We did Christmas a couple years back and my sister introduced two surprise guests, so it, too was a "please bring some furniture!" event.

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  4. I LOVE hosting parties as well, but I tend to go all out with the menu and end up sooooo tired by the end of it after all the cooking!!! It's mostly because I LOVE to cook, and it's my opportunity to cook things that the MR. and I wouldn't EVER usually eat, so I go overboard! I need to follow your more easy and simple approach!

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  5. I am the kind of person that wants the 3 course meal with the table setting. Over the years I've mellowed a bit though and have become more relaxed. We rarely have family come to stay as they all live too far away, but my girlfriend often stays with us and now she is basically a member of the family and I don't run around like a chicken with my head cut off cleaning everything before she comes anymore. I think that is progress : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  6. Before we left on our trip, I was not a fan of people just dropping in. I was always over-concerned with how my house looked, did we have the right dishes, glasses etc. Since we have been back, I am all about an "open-door policy". I want my house to be the drop in house. Stop by for a drink on our porch, share our dinner. No, I still don't have all the best dishes, but now I know people are more important than what my house looks like.

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  7. We love having get-togethers at our home with our friends/family. You're right, outdoors is best but we like to do things throughout the winter too. We don't go over the top, we just like having a reason to get everyone together!

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  8. I just love family get togethers . Having an Asian culture is the biggest reason for me to be hospitable . I think it all comes from roots and I'm a fan of all these things!

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  9. I need to learn to be more like you. I'm one of those people that hates having people over and I can't STAND it when people just drop by. I think it's how I was raised - to me it's rude to just drop by someone's house unannounced and invite yourself in. Other people I know (ahem, my in-laws) think nothing of it...

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  10. Uhm I can't answer this, I don't cook, I don't do baking, I am, so, not into thse things :-/ but my friends don't seem to mind, there's always someone who will order something, so no big deal.

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  11. I love having people over, hosting dinners and whatnot. Though I don't know if I'd be brave enough to invite someone to stay with no notice ... I usually do a quick clean before people come over because our cat is very messy!

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  12. It's wonderful that you do that. We need people who are so willing to have others over.

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  13. I love this! And it's so true ,some of the best things I've been to have been those simple or imperfect kinds of parties... as much as I appreciate it, I also really feel bad when it feels like people have totally inconvenienced themselves and gone hugely out of their way for me... simple is good :)

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  14. I really like hosting Saturday brunch. You can be free to lounge around the whole day. People drop in and out and there's coffee are mimosas. Two of favorite things!

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  15. I really admire people who desire to host and who are good at it. Having anyone in my home just stresses me out and I don't enjoy it at all, I don't like and I'm not good at planning and entertaining others. But, on the other hand, I love if someone spontaneously wants to drop-in, and a lot of people hate that.

    http://fizleglitz.com

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  16. Really, I'm impressed with this post & loving it! My mum is the best host in our family and she can cook tons for every guest visit. Our house is also an open-place for everyone, if there's any special occasion and everyone is in our house! We have tea after every hour for guests (it's an important thing for my folks) I'm really happy to read this, really happy!

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  17. We've only had one party at our house now because we live far from town, but I LOVE hosting parties. It is such a good feeling!

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  18. I am so bad at hosting parties, I always take on way more than I can chew and then I totally freak out.

    BTW you look BEAUTIFUL in that last picture.

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  19. I love hosting parties. Tomorrow I'm hosting my three year old's birthday party and I'm so excited. It will just be a simple party, cake and ice cream and lots of playing outside since it's finally fall here. Then later this week, I'll probably throw together a last minute going away party for family who is moving out of state. I'll also be hosting Thanksgiving, as always, which I love.

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  20. How beautiful! I can imagine your house bustling with activity. I'm actually the opposite from you; I grew up with a very quiet dad who disliked visitors. He's not mean or anything, he just liked his own quiet and space so I grew up with very few visitors. When I grew up, I actually thought I wanted to marry someone (like my husband) who is more sociable and whose house is always open to people. And now I'm getting the other end of the coin! We always have friends/visitors rock up but I do enjoy it :) x

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  21. My mum was always big on hospitality too, we always had people dropping by as we grew up, even just neighbours. Don't have that so much now, we tend to be a little more distant with neighbours, which is sad.

    Away From The Blue

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  22. I don't think I'm close to that many people, including family (or at least people that I would invite over). I'm not much of a party hosting type, so I never have people over to my house. Usually, if my husband's friends spends the weekend, we go out (since he doesn't live here anymore).

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  23. This is so lovely and it makes me happy to hear. My in laws are like this with hospitality and always being very welcoming with everyone to their house. I have loved it about them from day one. It makes sch a warm and exciting atmosphere.

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  24. I love the idea of imperfect hospitality. I have this issue a lot, but you make a great point! Also, I want those cookies! :)

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  25. Your family sounds like mine. We love to have people over and while I get a little neurotic about the house beforehand, once the party starts, I really relax and enjoy myself. At my mother's funeral, I told the story about the time I brought a dozen people home for breakfast with about 15 minutes warning. They were friends of ours that I had run into and I knew she would be delighted to see them, and she was. Her first response was "That's wonderful! What should we serve?" I think life is much more fun that way.

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