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!
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 piñata 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.)