It’s approaching that time of year when the word “SIMPLIFY” sounds wonderfully appealing on multiple levels. With tentative thoughts on opening our festive homes and hearts to guests galore, we can find ourselves in danger of unraveling like a big ol’ roll of shiny gift wrap. So how can we be hospitable over the holidays in a way that is efficient, effortless, and enjoyable? Lean in and let’s talk all things simple…
KEEP IT SIMPLE. We know this is the goal for every festive season, yet somehow, we still manage to find ourselves up to our armpits in decorating and baking and shopping and wrapping and desperately wanting to give our people our best—yet falling short. In our own eyes, at least.
None of us want to merely survive the season—we long to savor and delight in it. Make memories and deepen relationships. Eat scrumptious food. Laugh. Give thanks. And much of this we achieve by opening up our homes. By being hospitable.
“I want my home to be that kind of place—a place of sustenance, a place of invitation, a place of welcome.” Mary DeMuth
When we are invited into someone else’s home, we are ultimately hoping for connection. Conversation. Comfort. A warm welcome makes us feel loved and appreciated. Good food is a bonus.
But if the thought of making a full-blown meal stresses your fuzzy socks off, be kind to yourself. And everyone in the vicinity of your kitchen. Simplify the menu and go with a dessert night. Or a hot chocolate bar with fixings and a plate of cookies. Or a charcuterie board and wine. Whatever is simple and doable and even pleasurable for you to put together.
So here are a few tips brought to you by the letter “F” to help KEEP IT SIMPLE:
- FAMILIAR FAVORITES. If an actual meal is called for, go with something super easy you have made a gazillion times and have complete confidence in. If your guest wants to bring a dessert or a side dish—let them. Especially if you’re cooking for a crowd. Less stress in the kitchen is a win-win for all.
- FOCUS on your guests: be present, not pre-occupied. Try to get food prep done ahead of time or even invite them into the kitchen to pitch in. But be sure to actually sit and talk at some point—let them know they are seen and heard and loved. Hospitality is about them, not you.
- FREEZER-FRIENDLY. If you are a baker, start now and stock your freezer with cookies and squares you can pull out in a pinch for those surprise visitors. Alternatively, stash your store-bought goodies somewhere secret where they won’t be dipped into by non-guests!
- FUZZIES. Give them all the warm, fuzzy feelings with a cozy throw, a little Christmas jazz music or something pleasant playing in the background, maybe a candle burning. It’s the little things that count. Simple comfort is key.
- FUN. Seriously. Gatherings with family and friends are a great excuse to kick-back and have some good old-fashioned fun. Share stories around the fire or take a pre-dinner walk in the snow together. Our family is not huge on games for 11 months of the year but something about the festive season causes us to bring out the board games like it’s our job. Relax and let your hair down from that stress-induced messy-bun!
And one last tip for you:
- FUDGE. Here’s the easiest, most decadent fudge recipe I’ve come across, and it freezes perfectly… if it’s around long enough to freeze: SALTED NUTELLA CHOCOLATE FUDGE.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9
I hope some of these easy-peasy tips will help simplify your holiday hospitality. Loving one another well should be a goal for each of us, especially at this time of year. What a fabulous opportunity to shine God’s light and love with grateful hearts as we gather together!
Keep it simple and ENJOY,
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