One of the many things I enjoy is entertaining. I’ve often said if money and time were no object, you would find me opening my home weekly for fun, food, and fellowship. Although it requires quite a bit of work, the benefits are so rewarding. Recently, the Lord laid on my heart the need many ladies have for fellowship with others. Often, Moms, especially, are busy with children, grand-children, housework, cooking, cleaning, and all the things that go into keeping the household in order. Seldom do they take time for themselves.
How I Learned the “How to’s” of Hosting:
Growing up, Dad was a pastor. Mama was the consummate professional at entertaining. Often she was called upon to host meetings, events, and dinners. Her skill and expertise came from a passionate place deep within her heart. She loved people and loved entertaining. Guests included dignitaries from various organizations, missionaries home on furlough, church friends, and family. Regardless of the guests, everything was precise and designed with excellence.
One of the things I remember her saying is “People don’t necessarily care what your house looks like or what you have to eat; they just long for fellowship.” I’ve thought about that often while dusting before each occasion and planning the details. My Mom had countless place settings, tablecloths, flatware, silverware, fine China, and center pieces that were seasonal (as well as functional), for entertaining. Her tables were beautiful. Sometimes there were games and other times it was just a sweet time of sharing and singing. My family is very musical, so we would join the guests with our instruments and have a “gospel jubilee.” It was fun! I recall those times with great admiration for Mama’s hard work and expertise, while pulling off the most wonderful fellowship and beautiful setting. So, what made her entertainment so memorable? Let me share some things I learned from her along the way.
People don’t necessarily care what your house looks like or what you have to eat; they just long for fellowship.” Mom
The Steps for Preparing to Host:
I. It’s Important to Start with Prayer:
Each time before a gathering, Mama always asked God for wisdom in planning the perfect event that would touch hearts. I do the same. God cares and is interested in everything that touches our lives. I talk to Him about all the details, asking for wisdom in our conversation and discernment in everything that is said and done. I don’t want ladies’ luncheons at my home to turn into “husband bashing,” or a time to sow discord about things at church, or “roasting” the pastor. It creates a sour atmosphere for others. Instead, I want my party to exonerate Jesus and lift Him up. Ask Him for His direction and blessing for your event.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24 (NKJV)
II. Making the Guest List:
After I have prayed and asked God to bless my event, I then begin working on a guest list. I can comfortably seat 16, however, that includes three different locations: the dining room, kitchen, and our Florida room.
Recently, I hosted two ladies’ luncheons and kept the guest list at ten so we could all be together in one room. This keeps the conversation and fellowship closely shared and no one feels left out.
Before each event, I pray and ask the Lord who to invite; I don’t just want bodies to fill the seats. I long to reach out to those who are hurting, lonely, need to be uplifted, long for fellowship, or need a bright spot in their day.
The Lord knows things I have no idea about. One of the first guests I choose is the person that’s a “hoot” (the “firecracker” who keeps everybody laughing and can carry a conversation). Then I build from there.
I don’t invite those in a “click,” but rather use the opportunity to broaden my guest lists, so we get to know others and make a connection. Sometimes in smaller settings, those you thought were shy “open up” and feel less vulnerable.
III. Planning the Theme, Table Setting, and Entertainment:
Recent ladies’ luncheons I hosted at Christmas and the end of February were centered around Love. For the Christmas gathering, I invited ten ladies. I set the table with my Christmas dishes and gold flatware. The centerpiece was a large glass, oval-shaped bowl with various Christmas balls adding color to the table, and two Christmas lanterns at each end. Our Florida room table served desserts and coffee.
After our meal, we regrouped in the den and played the Leftie-Rightie game. I had asked each lady to bring one wrapped gift from the Dollar Store to participate. Every time the word “left” was read, the presents passed to the left and vice-versa with the word “right.”
For my Love-themed luncheon, I didn’t have games planned, per se. However, I had some conversation starters that turned out to be hilarious. When each lady entered, they had to write on a heart-shaped piece of paper something that no one knew about them.
Once we were seated at the table, each of my eight guests pulled a heart out of the bowl and read what the person had written. We each guessed who had undergone brain surgery, who had been in witness protection, and who had visited all 50 states in the US. It was informative and fun.
I set the table with an English rose pattern and soft pinks, reds, and greens. The entire theme was on Love, and of course, our conversation centered around the Love of God.
There were also slips of paper that asked questions such as “If you could take one bite out of every piece of chocolate in the box and no one knew, would you?” Laughter erupted and I smiled as I watched each lady get more involved, sharing stories about various situations.
Hub, my husband came home from work and heard us laughing from across the street. I knew it was a success.
IV. Surrender Your Party to God:
Strive for excellence, but be flexible. When you give your “party” to God, you have to let it go. Keep in mind that we are human and things happen no matter how hard we strive for perfection. I recall one time in particular when I planned a dinner party and made bar-b-que chicken. Everything was perfect. The pastor and his wife, along with a couple of deacons and their wives, were coming to our home for dinner. I knew we would have a good time of fellowship.
Five minutes before they arrived, the chicken in the oven caught fire. I had no idea what happened. It was so burnt when they arrived, I stood at the trash can, throwing away the chicken-pan and all. There was nothing to do but laugh. The table was set beautifully but I had no food.
As they walked in, the smell of smoke lingered thick in the air, and the fire alarm blaring created a clue that a significant misstep had happened. In situations like this, thankfully, I’m the person who finds the humor and quickly regroups. We ended up making peanut butter sandwiches, sitting at the kitchen table, and having the time of our life.
To this day, they still talk about that being the sweetest time of fellowship they ever had. God can use our failures and mistakes to His glory if we just let Him.
V. Host from Your Heart:
In closing, I want to remind you to “host from your heart” by being prepared, knowing your guests, and anticipating their needs. Always ask ahead of time if there are any dietary concerns or allergies. If something goes wrong, look for the silver lining, take the positive approach by “rolling with the punches.”
Challenge yourself to use what you have. You don’t need to go out and buy napkins rings, etc. Be creative. Remember you have invited guests into your home. Identify your purpose and goal in making them feel comfortable, and putting them at ease.
Furthermore, involve the quiet ones in conversation. Ask questions that will draw them out and make them feel included. Your job is to make your guests feel welcome and to honor the Lord with your conversation as you share all He has done.
You’ll know you have succeeded when they don’t want to leave, the laughter continues, and they ask to be included on the guest list when you host your next event. God will bless your efforts and the fellowship will be sweet.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24 (NKJV)
This is From My Heart~
Bonnie Lovelace is a contributing writer for The Hallelujah House. She is happily married and has two adult children. Bonnie lives in the Tidewater area of Virginia and is passionate about sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with others. You can read Bonnie’s full bio or contact her directly by clicking the “About Us” tab at the top of the homepage.
(Image credit: stock.com/DGLimages)