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Tips and tricks for serving others with heartwarming hospitality

Opinion/Personal Reflection/Bible
By Summer Lane

Photo: Deposit

Imagine this: A good friend of yours whom you haven’t seen in a few years happens to be in town. They call you and say, “Hey, guess what? I’m just down the street from your house and I’m coming over! I can’t wait to see you!”

They’re here to surprise you! At first, you’re thrilled, but then…you look around your house. It’s a disaster! Suddenly, that feeling of excitement turns into a feeling of anxiety and maybe a little bit of embarrassment. Instead of being excited that your friend is coming by, now you’re just stressed and agitated that your home is piled high with unfolded laundry, unwashed dishes, and Legos.

If this sounds like a relatable situation, I get it! In fact, this very situation happened to me this year, and it got me thinking about how women, as the gatekeepers of the home, have such an important responsibility to keep our homes as efficient as possible.

Efficient, however, doesn’t mean perfect. Not by any means! But every time I’ve had an unexpected guest pop by my house with little to no warning, I’ve always leaned hard on a few tried-and-true practices in my home that have allowed me to make my house a hospitable environment for guests – not perfect, but at least welcoming and clean!

In the Bible, good hospitality is a frequent topic. In fact, Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.”

1 Peter 4:9 also says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

For women, hospitality is a big deal. We are, by nature, more empathetic than our male counterparts. We like to make things beautiful. We were created by God to work side-by-side with men (Genesis 2:18, Titus 2:5). Granted, some people enjoy the art of hospitality more than others. Some may avoid it altogether. Regardless of whether we like it or not, it is clearly important enough for Scripture to mention it several times.

The definition of hospitality is “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” A lot of people think that hospitality within their home means that the house must be perfectly clean, or that the toys must be cleaned off the floor. They may think that hospitality equals a large home with a professionally designed aesthetic and a curated furniture collection.

It doesn’t. Hospitality simply means welcoming someone into your home with warmth and kindness and ensuring that they are comfortable while they are there. Part of this does include cleanliness and ambiance, sure. We don’t want to make our guests actively uncomfortable. But there is a balance between comfort and perfection, and there are a few simple, surefire solutions that you can incorporate into your everyday life that will make it easier to get the house in comfy and clean order if you only have ten minutes before your Great Aunt Suzy walks through the door!

Focus only on the high-traffic areas

Forget the bedrooms! Nobody goes and hangs out in the office or the master bedroom when they come over to visit (not usually, anyway!). Laser-focus on the areas where your guests will hang out. This is probably the living room, kitchen, and dining room. Think about the layout of your living areas. One of the easiest ways to make it simple to clean up a high-traffic area is to keep the furniture and clutter to a minimum. For example, I have no toy boxes, toy chests, or toy sets (like play kitchens, etc.) in the high-traffic areas. All of my daughter’s toys can be scooped up into a laundry basket and deposited in her room within 1-2 minutes if I have short notice that someone is coming over.

Have your vacuum and broom handy at all times. A brief and quick sweep of the carpet or floor makes a room sparkle quickly with little effort. Keep a dust rag or dust Swiffer nearby, too. Quickly gloss over the surfaces of your windowsills, mantel, and even your table for a spiffy shine-up!

Highlight your dining table and living room

These are probably the two places your guest will hang out with you. Clear the table off, wipe it down, and pull out a fresh tablecloth with a vase of flowers. Don’t have flowers? Keep some artificial blooms on hand in your back closet for a splash of easy color. Shake out the couch cushions, fluff the pillows, and make sure the floors are free of toys (just in that one area – don’t stress out too much!). Just those two little things can change the vibe of an entire room!

Kitchen clean-up

Maybe you have a good thirty minutes (or an hour!) before your guests arrive. This is more than enough time to get things shined up. If your kitchen is within full view of your living room and dining room (like mine is), it may be important to you to get those dirty dishes under control. I don’t blame you! Just remember – your guests aren’t judging you for having dirty dishes on the counter. That’s life! But if you want to clean things up a bit, focus on getting the dishes at least rinsed out and stacked neatly. This is a nice trick for when you don’t have time to wash them all. I do this fairly often.

If you’re in a rush, take a small basket and throw all the accumulated clutter from your counters into it. Wipe down the counters, light a candle (or warm a wax melt) and put on a pot of coffee.

That’s all you need. Remember – you’re not going for perfect! You’re going for comfort and efficiency!

The guest bathroom

Some people may argue with me on this, but I have the opinion that the one thing that should be clean for your guests without exception is the guest bathroom! Again, I didn’t say “perfect,” but I did say clean! It’s good etiquette to make the washroom a pleasant place, so it’s an absolute must to do a rapid-fire clean-up of the toilet, counter, and sink before people come over. This can be done in about five minutes – don’t sweat it. If you’re feeling really enterprising, spritz the mirror with glass cleaner and wipe it down. Quickly freshen up the room by pulling out a clean hand towel or two and lighting a calming candle. Make sure the toilet paper roll is full. There’s nothing worse than stranding a guest in the bathroom without enough TP – ha!

That’s it – done!

Remember, if you have someone over during the dinner or lunch hour, have food available

Good etiquette means that you will not have guests over to your house without offering them something to drink (water, coffee, juice, etc.). Great etiquette means that if you have a friend over during lunch or dinner hours, you will make sure that you at least offer them an option for food! My opinion is that if someone comes over to my house, I can’t let them go hungry!

I always make sure that I have something easy in my fridge to make for lunch if friends come over. Ask some of my girlfriends and they’ll tell you – I’m notorious for having chicken salad and croissants from Costco in my fridge. It’s a no-stress, serve-yourself meal that is always popular.

If I have someone come over in the morning and they plan on leaving after lunch, I always make sure I have some kind of brunch food available. A quiche, perhaps, and some fresh fruit. Throw in a cup of coffee or a glass of orange juice. Nothing fancy – but try to embrace the idea that it is always an honor to serve a guest. And if you look at serving your guest as an honor rather than a chore, it becomes something that you can enjoy and look forward to!

This is a side note, but I like to keep snacks squirreled away for kids in my pantry, too. When I have a party at my house, for example, my husband and I always make sure that we have food options for kids between 1-5, so I’ll have a small basket full of fruit, applesauce pouches, yogurt tubes, animal crackers, or cheese sticks. Do what you can and make it simple!

Focus on the person, not the place

Yes, the home is the stage that you are setting for your guests, but as a host, your goal is to make them feel welcome. Warmth and kindness cover a multitude of imperfections, so make sure you’re not worried about what your house looks like when your guest comes over. This is about spending quality time with them!

I encourage women to read books or guides like Emily Post’s “Etiquette,” to learn more about hospitality. It’s a good skill that is, sadly, going woefully out of style. The art of hospitality is important, and a good host or hostess can bring glory to the Lord by reflecting His kindness and love in giving comfort, food, and entertainment to others. Remember this: entertaining is not about you. It’s about others.

Romans 12:13 says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

Hospitality is a service that we can give to fellow strangers and to those who need Christ in their lives, too! Why not utilize the power of gracious hosting to help facilitate that?


Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.






The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team. This specific article was written by Summer Lane, and may not be reproduced, except to quote for reviews or interviews, without the express permission of the author. 




Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 30 books, including the hit Collapse Series and Resurrection Series. She is an experienced journalist and columnist who reports on news within the U.S. and abroad. She is the Associate Editor for Right Side Broadcasting Network. Additionally, she analyzes politics and policies on The Write Revolution.

Summer is also a mom and wife who enjoys rural country living, herding cats, and gardening. She is passionate about writing about women’s issues, parenting, and politics from a theologically-grounded perspective that points readers to the good news of the gospel.

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