Ten Ways to Show Hospitality on a Budget

Maybe your budget is limited. Hospitality is still an art you can (and should) practice. The purpose of hospitality is not to showcase your home or dazzle guests with amazing food.

Hospitality is simply “receiving and entertaining strangers or guests …with kind and generous liberality” (Webster).

Hospitality is a Scriptural command. Leaders in the church are required to “be given to hospitality.” Each member of the church should also seek to use their home to minister to the needy, mutually “sharpen” friends, and “entertain strangers”.

In our fast-paced, online society, taking the time to open your home and engage with people right around you is especially important.

Hospitality isn't about impressing your friends or showcasing your home. It's about fellowship and friendship. If you have a limited budget, here are 10 frugal ways to practice hospitality on a budget.

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10 Way to Show Hospitality on a Budget

  1. Create a welcoming environment using what you have. A scented candle, pretty music or jar of wildflowers add a warm touch and are inexpensive. Use items you have and remember that hospitality is not a Martha Stewart contest!
  2. Open your home, without serving food. If your food budget scarcely lets you feed your own family, you can show hospitality without serving a meal. Watch a friend or neighbor’s children to give them a break. Invite a friend over in the afternoon, just to chat.
If you want to serve food…
  1. Remember, you don’t have to host dinner. Invite a friend for lunch or breakfast. One of my favorite times of fellowship was over brunch. My sister-in-law and her husband invited several couples over and made homemade waffles topped with strawberries and ice cream. It was delicious, simple and fit their budget.
  2. Make homemade cookies or brownies. Whenever you make cookies, make a big batch and freeze the extra dough in wax paper to pull out for fresh hot cookies at a moment’s notice. Many cookie recipes freeze well: Almond Crunch Cookies are some of my favorite!
If you are hosting guests for dinner…
  1. Compile a simple rotating company menu. Think through the meals and desserts your family loves. Make a list of meals that you can serve when company is coming. They don’t have to be expensive or gourmet. Soups, homemade pizza and Savory Lentil Rice Casserole are delicious, yet budget-friendly.
  2. Keep ingredients for those meals stocked. This will save on gas money and impulse purchases… and relieve a whole lot of stress!
  3.  Shop your cupboards and use what you have. Maybe unexpected company is coming and you’re almost out of groceries. Get creative. A missionary shared an inspiring story of a time she only had one onion, some cheese and spices in the house. Company unexpectedly dropped by. Instead of panicking, she turned the onion and cheese into a savory creation that her guest raved about!
  4. Make bread or biscuits to serve with your meal. Homemade baked goods are increasingly rare and enliven even the humblest of meals.
  5. Serve water or make your own iced tea. Add sliced lemon to “make it fancy”. Homemade tea costs a fraction of store-bought. I buy a box of 100 tag-less tea bags at Walmart for $1. Using four per quart, that’s enough to make more than six gallons of tea. Better yet, grow your own mint!
  6. Share the load. Let your guest bring a side. If you are hosting a large group, plan a meal that all can contribute to, like burritos. Have each guest bring a filling or two. Or, host a potluck type event.
What about you? How do you practice hospitality on a budget? (And have you ever had to whip up dinner for a crowd at the last minute?) 
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  1. says

    Great ideas, Anna. I like the idea of just sitting around talking. :) Or so often guests want to bring something to help with the meal. Let them! :)

  2. Jenni / Life from the Roof says

    In my babysitting days, I was working at a dinner party where the hosts and their guests picked a magazine issue of Bon Appetit and made a menu from it from the appetizer to the dessert. Sometimes magazine menus can be pricey, even for wealthy couples like the ones I babysat for, but it would be much more manageable to do it with several groups of people. Plus, it’s a new way to try new dishes. You could pick a particular popular cookbook author and get recipes off the Internet, etc

  3. Kasey says

    These are terrific ideas! We definitely live on a budget and I’m afraid there are many times that I pass up an opportunity to open my home because of it. Thanks for the fresh inspiration!

  4. says

    I appreciate it when a friend takes the time to truly talk…whether it’s via email, at church, an afternoon visit…time to talk and catch up on each other’s lives. I remind myself of this whenever I start stressing about the house not being 100% picked up or not having a fancy meal to serve. It’s the time and care that matters.

    • anna says

      You’re so right! When I stop worrying about what the house looks like and really just focus on my guest, the messes loose all importance. Besides, what mom lives in a perfectly picked up home all the time? A few messes keep it real, right?

  5. Barbara Rice says

    This has always been tough for me because I have 6 kids 1) the house NEVER is company ready 2) and our budget is well hmmm, tight. But lately as my kids get older, I realize the need for their friends to drop by and the need for my husband and I to have a social life so I’m changing my tune. 1) when guests show up don’t apologize for the reasonable “messes” with a family of 8. Just welcome them with a smile and enjoy them! 2) I think inviting folks over for an evening dessert is gonna be a new thing for me because its inexpensive and oh so good!

    • anna says

      That’s awesome Barbara! It took a while for me to let go of my company perfectionism, but whenever I remember that hospitality is about friendship and fellowship, it helps me so much. Dessert with friends is wonderful! :)

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