Ah, summer! The days feel longer, everyone moves a little slower, and our trips to the ice cream shop increase 10-fold.
Summer seems to also provide way more opportunities to gather people. As soon as the warmth broke through in Ohio (you know, right before it went right back to snowing?), Mike and I walked up to our local burger stand and invited some friends; the next night we did the same thing at a different restaurant. For whatever reason, summer brings a pep in our step and a readiness to be around people. Maybe because you have to drag us out of the house in the winter!
A Heart for Hospitality
As I’m thinking and longing for the summer, I wanted to share some of the simple ideas for hospitality that Mike and I have been brainstorming for this season. Before we go further, I just want to hit on the idea of hospitality verses entertaining. This is not an area we’re experts in, rather where we’re seeking to grow.
Hospitality and entertaining can look the exact same but the heart behind it is different. Entertaining mainly focuses on self; Hospitality mainly focuses on others. Just as your home does not have to be perfect to welcome people in, the process of cultivating hospitality does not either. This is an area I wrestle with a lot and I’m fighting for the good. Often, it’s not until after a gathering when I see what my heart was really after: creating a place where I’m glorified instead of a safe place for people.
We can practice hospitality with our closest friends and family, by inviting a new neighbor, or the person at church that doesn’t seem to know many people. Invite them in to the real you. Be present with your guests. Just know the pressure is off. The goal is not to impress people – just love them.
Hospitality is something we can create, no matter how great of “homemaker” we are, how epic we are at carrying a conversation, or how divine our chocolate chip cookie recipe comes out (break and bake all day!). Let’s just swash this idea right now: you don’t even have to have a house to welcome people in! Hospitality can be shown in any setting – school, church, work.
For some, this may look like inviting one person over, for some it may be an open invitation to everyone on their block. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, invite a friend in and share your vision with them.
Friends, a giant asterisk here is to say: cleaning your home isn’t bad, preparing a beautiful meal is not bad; It’s the freedom to NOT that we’re looking at. Give them you. Imperfection isn’t something worth hiding (it’s not repelling); it makes us real, it’s refreshing.
5 Ideas for Simple Summer Hospitality
1. Plan to be Generous
If you’re hoping to be intentional about gathering people this summer, work it into your budget. Whether it’s our big 4th of July party we do every year or just stocking up on the essentials (more on that below), it can feel like more of a hit if we haven’t created margin to be generous. Generosity doesn’t only mean our budget; it can also mean our time.
2. Stock Up on the Essentials
While it’s great to plan, spontaneous hangouts seem to spring up even more in the summer. Just yesterday, Mike and I were about to take a walk and ran into two sets of our neighbors out on the sidewalk. While it’s not necessary to have items in my home to provide to guests, I thought to myself “this would be a perfect time to invite them over after our walks for a drink”. Low and behold as I skimmed my mind for what we had in our fridge, nothing. When I head to the grocery store, I’m planning on grabbing a few extra drinks, boxes of brownies, burgers, or whatever else is on the menu that week.
You don’t have to fund an entire gathering! If people offer to bring something and you don’t have money left in the budget, receive the offer!
3. Don’t Overcomplicate It
We’re after “simple” this summer and keeping it easy! For me, the more complicated I make the meal or setting, the more distracted I am. Now, I look for the prepare-ahead type of things so I can be present with my friends and family as soon as they walk through the door. Don’t feel like you have to entertain them, but invite them into something you’re already doing: “Hey, we’re going to grill out some burgers – you guys want to join?”
You know when you have parties and there are like 3 plates left? Don’t throw them out! Create your own little stockpile of random paper plates to bring out when people come over. If you’re looking to reduce waste, I’m loving the idea of melamine plates: unbreakable, light, and easy to wash! Be easy; Be free.
4. Create Balance
Whether you need to make space for yourself or make space to invite people in, it’s important to have balance. I have the tendency to fill every moment with something fun with community; Mike swings more the other way. I’m all about cultivating community, but I also need to make space for me and Mike. One of our goals for the summer is to be intentional in planning both: time together and time with people.
5. Favorite Easy Ideas
- Two words: Ice Pops! Our favorite go-to inexpensive thing to have on-hand in the summer.
- Kid-Friendly: We don’t have kids yet, but most of my friends do. A few fan-favorites are chalk, bubbles, sports balls, glow sticks.
- Take a walk: One of the easiest things I do with my girlfriends!
- Bonfires in the backyard: We usually have some snacks and say “bring your own beverage”
- Bring your own picnic or meet at the park
- Appetizer or Dip party (we do this every year for 4th of July!)
- Meet at the pool
- No house, no problem! Meet for ice cream or at a local restaurant.
So, here’s to a summer full of beautiful moments and bringing joy and presence to those around us! Does the hospitality talk interest you? If so, stay tuned! While this theme will be weaved throughout the blog, I’m thinking about creating a little hospitality series soon. Join my mailing list so you don’t miss it!
What are your favorite summer gathering ideas?