Practical Tips for Showing Hospitality (in a Small Home)

As I talked about yesterday, hospitality is a command, whether you live in a small home or not.  Opening up our homes is a way to show “generosity and kindness” (as Webster puts it) to friend or stranger.

When we first moved into our little home, I never dreamed I’d one day feed eleven guests (plus our five) for lunch. Or think it was fun.

As I’ve tried to practice hospitality in our little home, here are some things I’ve learned along the way.Things that work for me:

Don’t be afraid to invite guests over: This may seem silly, but when we first moved into our little home, I was afraid to have company over. Pride played into it, but I also thought who would want to leave their homes and come hang out at my little place?  Maybe you have thought the same thing. But most people still want to come. Even large families! After all, they’re coming to see you, not your home! Some might even find the small home cozy and nostalgic.

Clear out the clutter: If you want to fill your home with people, there won’t be as much room for stuff. Clear out the clutter and make sure the things you have make your home a better place to be. Plus, the less you have, the less there is to make messes with!

Get creative: If seating is an issue, turn buckets or boxes into makeshift stools and pull them up to the table for kids. Turn your living room into the dining area. Eat outside. Make it an indoor picnic.

Some activities just don’t work in a small home, but many do: Seated group games don’t take much space. A long walk is fun if it starts to get cramped. Sometimes we turn our room into a personal theater for the kiddos so the adults can talk quietly.

Keep the menu manageable: Remember Mary and Martha? Don’t focus so much on food that you don’t have time to enjoy your company.

Make a plan: Pick a few tried and true meals and desserts that you can rotate for company. Write out a menu. Try not to experiment on guests. [Don’t ask me how I know!]

Be prepared:[Try to] keep the home somewhat orderly. Keep easy to heat up food in the freezer for unexpected or last minute company. Some cookie dough freezes wonderfully (like the dough for these Almond Crunch Cookies.) Freeze the dough in wax paper and when a friend drops by, slice and bake. Soon you’ll have hot homemade cookies to serve.

Expect imperfection: Hospitality is not about putting on a perfect front. Be real. Sometimes the meal won’t turn out exactly how you wanted. Sometimes the dishes will be stacked high in the sink or your toddler will “decorate” the living room right before guests arrive. It’s okay.

Embrace the adventure: Warn your guests ahead of time that your home is small. My guests won’t get a guest room. They may not even get a chair. Enjoy squeezing a few more people into your home. Laugh. Make memories. It takes very little space to have a good time.

Prepare your self: The last few minutes before guests, arrive I’m usually flying around the house trying to get the last few things warmed up or put away. But, whenever I take time (even a minute or two) to pray, glance in the mirror and prepare myself, I am much better prepared to show real hospitality to others.

Most importantly, love your guests. Show them how glad you are to have them in your home. To loosely paraphrase Solomon, a simple meal served with love is better than a fancy feast and hatred (Prov. 15:17) Remember why you invited them over in the first place: you love them and want to get to fellowship together.

What about you? How do you show hospitality? Any suggestions for entertaining in a small house?

photo by agamamedia

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  1. says

    I’d share, but I’ve never lived in a “small” house though I can imagine things. 😀 Everything you mentioned sounds wonderful. I wouldn’t mind coming and sitting on the floor in your house with a plate of food in my lap, a baby in my arm and a small child sitting next to me ready to “share” their sticky, messy fingers. 🙂

    If you want to read about Cookie Day, go read my blog. 🙂

    • anna says

      I so wish you could come sit on the floor and play with the munchkins with me.

      Such a fun poem Bekah! And the kids and I are reading your “Best and Worst Christmas” together and really enjoying it! 🙂

  2. says

    I LOVE this! Our largish family is currently in a small “rent house” while we house shop after a recent move. I have balked at showing hospitality, but it has been SO worth it to move past my pride (and perfectionism).

    I’m brand new to your blog… following a link from a comment you left at my friend Heather’s blog- Raising Mighty Arrows. I’m so pleased to meet you! Love your beautiful blog… will be back. 🙂

    • anna says

      So happy to meet you too! Heather was just telling me how much I would love your blog. And I do already! Though I’ll have to explore more when it’s not quite so close to midnight. 🙂

  3. says

    we have a small(900 sq feet, 2 bedroom) house and we have large numbers in for the kids birthdays and holidays. I think the largest number was 26(including the 5 of us). Chairs are handed out by age(the oldest first, of course)..everyone else can sit where they can pull up a patch of floor 🙂

  4. says

    Great tips! Your link back to Works-for-Me Wednesday is broken, though.

    My home is not especially small, but we don’t have a guest bedroom. One thing I’m careful about is planning ahead to avoid the need to go into the room while guests are sleeping. This means that if they’re sleeping in the living room, I put a jar of nuts upstairs in case any of us gets hungry before the guests are awake. If we put the guests in the master bedroom and we’re sleeping in the living room, we get our clothes for the next day and take them downstairs in the evening in case we need to get dressed before they get up.

    • anna says

      Thanks for letting me know about the broken link! (That’s one of the reasons I should not blog when tired. 😉 )

      Great ideas! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing!

  5. says

    hi! Coming over from Works For Me Wednesday, This post was exactly the encouragement I needed!

    I just moved from a big spacious home into a teeny tiny dark and dingy apartment and avoid having people over at all costs. I used to love entertaining and being hospitable but haven’t done it much lately. Thanks for encouraging me and showing me how my pride plays into it 🙂

    • anna says

      Oh Angie, I’m so glad this was an encouragement to you. When we first moved to our little house, I could hardly wait to move out of it. It’s been three and a half years, and I’ve grown to love it. Yes, it’s old and it’s tiny, but it’s home and we’ve made so many memories here.

  6. says

    I can relate!! My tiny place is one step up from a cracker box – granted, an important step lol Thanks so much for this advice! I’ve always hesitated having a super large amount of people over, but now I have a few ideas on how to make it work! 🙂

  7. says

    I love this post! We have a tiny home and big yard – so we tend to have big groups over in the summer when we can enjoy the great outdoors. But I love having people over, so in the winter I am a bit sad that I don’t have the same opportunity to show hospitality. This was a wonderful encourgement for me to think “outside the box”. Thank you!


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