Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thoughts on Hospitality

There comes a time, usually 5-6 hours before friends are due to arrive for dinner, when I think to myself, "Why did I want to have company? I'd like nothing better than to sit down in front of the television with a tray of leftovers." 

Then, once I begin executing the plans I've made, I feel much better and look forward to the evening. For me, planning and working ahead is key. One evening earlier in the week I ironed the tablecloth and napkins of vintage linen. 

Things that can be done ahead I do the night before - this time it was peeling and cubing the butternut squash, trimming the brussels sprouts, and making the salad dressing. 

For this particular get together, one friend offered to bring dessert and another brought appetizers. I augmented the latter with a bowl of nuts. Tim takes care of the wine. 

Saturday morning I vacuumed and dusted, and cleaned bathrooms. I would have done those things on Friday but didn't have the energy after working all day. 

I really enjoy setting the table and do that before I begin cooking so I can take my time. This table setting is simple. The photos were taken during daylight, and in the evening, with the lights low and the candles lit, the space was cozy for the six of us. Years ago I purchased a box of tiny brass stars. These I fling over the table in a scattered constellation. They catch the light and are often played with by dinner guests as we chat late into the evening.

I started cooking around 3:00 and had plenty of time - enough to decorate the mantel and set out the nativity set. 

So what was on the menu? To start, a salad with greens, avocado and orange slices, sprinkled with cinnamon candied almond flakes. For the main course, stuffed chicken breasts, potato stacks, butternut squash with brussels sprouts and cranberries, and steamed asparagus. 

Hospitality is something I learned from my mother. Having guests over was a regular occurrence in our home. My mom still entertains regularly. She taught me the value of working ahead and having a plan. 

During our years overseas I had plenty of opportunity to practice the skills Mom taught me. Guests at the dinner table (and breakfast and lunch) were a part of life. They came from the four corners of the globe - Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the South Pacific.

The conversation last night ranged from politics and literature to boating and religion. Lots of laughter. Some teasing. Yes, the food was delicious, and I took extra care last night. In the end, however, it's the people sitting around the table who are most important. Sharing life. A bowl of soup and chunk of bread can accomplish the same meeting of minds. 

After the guests left and Tim and I finished cleaning up the kitchen, I went to bed content with the evening.      

After church on Sunday morning, the same six of us went for a boat ride (not ours). And we enjoyed another meal together in Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island. Once again, it's all about the people in our lives.

Do you enjoy having guests in your home? What tips help make things simpler for you?

I'll be linking to No Place Like Home, hosted by Sandi of Rose Chintz Cottage.  


  1. Your setting looks lovely Lorrie ant the menu sounded great too but I know what you mean, it's the company of friends that sets the tone of a wonderful evening.

  2. Everything looks and sounds lovely. I usually don't have people over because I hate cleaning and things around here get pretty grimy. When it comes to true friends, I don't feel everything has to be perfect, so that's usually the only people I allow over anymore. We used to entertain more than we do now. I keep saying I will get organized and get back to having people over. So far, that's not happened. I've gotten so use to quiet time that I want it to be quiet all ... the ... time. Ha! Have a great week!

  3. I love entertaining, Lorrie. You are right- once you "get started" everything just kind of falls into place. We don't entertain as much as we used to because of hubby's schedule and we never know when he will be called in to the hospital. One more year until his retirement and then maybe our lives will settle a bit (hahahaha). You did a great job- your table setting is just beautiful and the food sounds wonderful, too. The best part, of course, is the people around the table. xo Diana

  4. We often have guests in our home! A key for me is to plan ahead (though spontaneity is fun too!). Also, I try to keep things simple - I don't try new recipes for guests - that helps me to not stress out. A pretty table, good, simple food, and good fellowship is what makes a great time, to me.

    I have come to know over the years, that people love to be ASKED to come, they like knowing that you've thought of them and want to get to know them better.


  5. I plan ahead too and usually prepare a dish of two ahead of time. The table is set early in the day and I prep the rest of dinner later in the day. Buying groceries and wine the day or days before really free up the time on the day of the dinner.
    Enjoying the meal and your company is really why we host dinner parties.
    I have fresh flowers in the bathroom as s little welcome for the guests.
    How lovely that you were out cruising on this sunny weekend!

  6. Hi Lorrie,
    I always plan ahead too and I agree that it's the people you spend time with that makes the meal. My mom didn't entertain very often, hardly ever, so all I have learned has been on my own and spending years in the ministry with my hubby. One learns a lot spending time with good friends and other folks. Everyone has a gift and it is lovely when they share it with another. I love your simple setting and those wee stars just bring so much whimsy and prettiness to your table. So glad you shared this with us. Have a delightful week.


  7. Very pretty, Lorrie! I love your little gold stars & may look for something similar for our Christmas table. Cute idea!

    It took me AT LEAST 3 days to buy, set up, cook, serve & then clean up from our turkey day. My feet were killing me, too! I need to wear better shoes inside the house for support, I guess. Hoping Christmas dinner will be easier.

  8. Lots of good thoughts, Lorrie. Many years ago I would fuss at my family when I was preparing for people to come over to our house and then behave perfectly when the company arrived. Thank goodness the Lord prompted me to change that bad habit. For me planning ahead and doing things in steps works well.

  9. We seldom have guests in our home, but your observation that it could be just soup and a sandwich is encouraging. That's about all that it could be at this point. =D John ate the last turkey sandwich for lunch. Beautiful table setting!

  10. I don't have as many guests as I used to, Lorrie, but I have always loved the planning and preparation, and still do. I loved reading your thoughts, your menu, and of course, the scattered little stars that pick up the light and playfulness. I'd love to be a guest in your home!

  11. Your table is just perfect. I love setting the table ahead, making plans, and being organized. Your time with friends sounds like a total delight.

  12. Anonymous5:36 PM

    Lorrie, you table is striking and your menu sounds so delicious! I have the same dread before company comes over but then I'm always happy that we did. I think planning it all makes things easier. Menu, baking, cooking, setting the table earlier in the day and definitely cleaning house the day before the event.

  13. I totally agree that it's all about being with good company. I enjoy entertaining at my home and my true friends will not mind my terrible cooking. Hee!

  14. You served a lovely dinner for your company. Inviting people in is a lot of work, but so worth it. And I always say, "I need a reason to clean." I am much like you, left overs will do fine. Thankfully I have a husband who will eat them. Enjoy your week.

  15. I smiled as I read your I could identify with you. There is always that moment when I ask myself why I am doing this...when there are so many other things I could be doing? Hospitality is a gift of time...and of love! And in the end...I love having people in...and most always go to bed content once the guests have left.

    It all looks lovely over there...and I think you covered all the best tips for having friends over for a meal.

  16. Opening your home for sharing fellowship with others is always meaningful. Is it work? Yes. But work that is always worth it! I can imagine that being invited to your home is quite a treat!! Your meal sounds delicious, but as you have beautifully said, the real treasure is in time spent together.

    I have never seen anything like your group of stars. What a great multi-purposing entertaining tool! :)

  17. Your setting looks beautiful, Lorrie, and your friends were certainly more than happy with the dinner and the lovely time spent together.
    We entertain much more in summertime than in winter. I don't actually enjoy big parties very much, but I do love the relaxed feeling when all the guests have gone and you can enjoy the beautiful summer night, taste some of your favourites and sip some wine in all peace and quiet. :) Planning ahead and writing lists is really important.
    Wishing you and yours a beautiful and peaceful Advent season.

  18. What a beautiful table you set for your guests. I'm sure you had a wonderful evening and the menu sounds delish! Darrell and I enjoy having people into our home as well. We have a busy month of December, starting this week end. I guess I learned hospitality from my mom as well,,,,and growing up in a pastor's home we always had people in. I often say that I was doing BnB from a young age as often, if guests were staying over night, they had my room!! Having the tea room certainly helped me to become organized and plan ahead with meal preperations. All in all, it is a relaxed event having guests in and I really enjoy it!! Happy entertaining to you!!

  19. Anonymous10:33 AM

    It looks like your Mother taught you well. :-) I entertained a lot when I was still working and we had lots of room. Now that we have downsized, we will have a couple of people at a time. As a matter of fact, we have two coming for lunch next week and then another couple a couple of weeks from now. I'm a list maker, so I make one including food and cleaning prep. I keep what I'd call a clean house, but it never seems clean enough when someone is coming. LOL Glad you had such a nice weekend. :-)

  20. I am sure that it would be wonderful to be a guest in your home, you sound like a wonderful hostess! Hope that you had fun! xx

  21. I could have written this post…our history with hospitality is much the same. My parents shared our table with others often. And in that way my mother taught me so much. She prepared extra on Sundays so she could invite people home after church for Sunday dinner--those that she thought needed encouragement. I like to get the cooking done before guests arrive. I'm not good talking to guests while I cook. People often ask to bring things so it makes the meal easier. I love to set the table most of all (your stars are great) and candlelight is a must. It's the lingering around the table with conversation that is the star of the evening to us. A great post!

  22. I often have that thought of, why did I offer to host?, at some point. But I'm always happy when I do. I'm a big list maker and planner, and try to get as much done ahead of time as I can. I don't like to be rushed or stressed when guests are here, because I want everyone to feel relaxed. Candlelight and fresh flowers, always. Good food, but nothing too complicated.
    Your dinner party sounds very lovely.

  23. Two lovely days. When we have guests I like to do as you do - start early. I set the table the day before if possible - which is good because I often change things around. I also prep the food ahead when I can. I like to do place cards sometimes - to mix up the people and get different conversations going.

    Some years ago I read a book about Saltspring Island and can't recall the name - but the people in the book were the only ones living on the island at the time the events too place in the book. They had a small dock and often boats would come into their harbor for safety in storms. They had to go across one or more channels to get any supplies they needed - or the mail. I always think of that book when I hear the islands name.

  24. Every once in a while I'm a guest in someone else's house and the house may not be picture perfect tidy or the food may be bland and I still have a wonderful time. I try to teach myself that it doesn't have to be perfect, that making people welcome in your home is the most important thing. And still I spend way too much time in the kitchen :-)

  25. I do love having guest in my home, I enjoy cooking and love to share that with our family and friends. I did relate to, "six hours before asking myself Why am I doing this?" haha But in the end it is all more than worth it! I am beginning to believe that Hospitality is becoming a lost art.



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