hospitality · Hostess Goals · Thanksgiving

Hosting the Holidays With Joy, Part 2

I love to have guests in our home and my guest book is reflective of that, but I also know that it takes a lot of planning, work and preparation. It’s my desire today to complete the list I started earlier this week and give you some tips about how you can have guests in your home this holiday season and do it with joy, rather than fear or dread.

  • Reason #5 why we dread hosting is that we don’t feel like our home is good enough or big enough.
    I can remember days when we lived in our ranch style home and didn’t have a big enough kitchen to host my whole family – I believe we had 14! What to do? We set up tables in our humble basement. It certainly wasn’t fancy, but we managed! I even had to use the church oven because at the time, my oven was so small the turkey didn’t fit inside! But all that isn’t what I remember! I remember that we had so much fun! At the end of the day we all piled into our church van and went to Bristol Speedway to see the Christmas lights! I think if we don’t make a big deal about being squashed together, our guests won’t either.
    If you don’t feel your house is “nice” enough, do what you can to make it fit for company –
    ~Clean the spaces you’ll be using. Make the bathroom shine. Unclutter all counters. Dust. Vacuum. Sweep off the front porch. Make sure the kitchen sink and stove are clean and ready for use.
    ~Don’t apologize for your house! If you start pointing out all its flaws and problems, you’re not going to make your guests feel welcome. Use what you have, make the most of it and be thankful. It’s God’s provision for you. Use it for His glory.
    ~Focus on your time together – not on the beauty (or lack thereof) of your home. Turn on a playlist of instrumental music for background beauty. Light the candles. Set the tables and turn your interest to your guests. That’s what they’ll remember.
  • Reason #6 why we fear hosting is not knowing what to do before or during the meal. Perhaps you fear “small talk” and not knowing what to say. Those gaps in conversation can feel awkward. Or if little ones are tearing through the house you feel your blood pressure rising.
    ~Planning ahead for children is your best option. Have a little box of things they can play with in a secluded spot. If it’s a pretty day, offer outdoor activities – balls or jump ropes to play with. If they’re older, you could set out coloring books, board games or puzzles.
    ~Share blessings. Why not plan on going around the table or the room and having everyone share three things for which they’re the most thankful? Again, focus on your guests instead of worrying you won’t know what to say. Ask them questions about their lives – “How did you spend Thanksgiving when you were a child?” “What family traditions did you family do on the holidays?” “What you favorite memory of Thanksgiving?”
  • Reason #7 – Fearing how to keep everyone entertained.
    ~Plan for some board games or group games for the time your guests hang around after the meal. Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese Pizza is a hilarious game that will loosen everyone up!
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza Card Game

~Maybe everyone could work on a huge puzzle together. Set it up on a game table and let guests work on it throughout the day.
~Have a simple craft the children can work on. There are so many ideas on Pinterest!
~While the guys watch the football game, have the ladies work on crafting a simple Christmas ornament together.
~Don’t miss the opportunity to turn everyone’s hearts upwards to the Lord. Read Psalm 100 together. Stop and give thanks in prayer to the Giver of every good gift! Perhaps you could also sing a song together. Dear friends of ours always close our fellowship at their table by singing while our host plays the guitar. What a blessing that time always is!

I pray that these suggestions have been helpful. If you have other needs or questions, please feel free to leave a comment, or email me using the address on my contact information page.

Here is a detailed post about how you can be a gracious guest, and also tips on hosting. You’ll find hostess gift ideas that will be a small way to say, “Thanks for inviting us!”

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Here’s a favorite Cranberry Streusel Muffin you should consider for Thanksgiving morning breakfast!

hospitality · Hostess Goals · Thanksgiving

Hosting the Holidays With Joy

Hosting for the holidays can be associated with anxiety. There can be many reasons for that. See if any of these resonate with you…

  1. Tight Finances
  2. Stressful company
  3. Fear of a food failure
  4. Little time to prepare
  5. Feeling like your home isn’t good enough or big enough
  6. Not knowing what to do before or during the meal
  7. Wondering how to keep everyone entertained

I’d like to try to address some of these topics today and we’ll finish the rest later this week.

  1. Tight finances
    The meal doesn’t have to break the bank. Decide what parts of the meal are important to your family. Is it the turkey? Then get a good sized, good quality bird and add a couple of essential sides like mashed potatoes, Green Bean Casserole and some rolls.
    Enlist your guests to bring a dish to help. Get someone to bring a pie and Cool Whip and someone else to bring a relish tray.
  2. Stressful company – Sometimes the people that come are related and might be difficult to deal with. Pray about your attitude. If our heart is right, our responses will follow. Ask the Lord to give you His love for your guests. Don’t have expectations about what they should be to you. Only desire to be a blessing to them. It’s just a day – you don’t have to invite them to move in.
  3. Fear of food failure – Watch a You Tube video by Barefoot Contessa or another Food Network chef you love and watch them roast a turkey, bake a pie or make that great side dish. It’s like having an assistant in your kitchen with you. If you can try to make the dish ahead of time as a trial run, you’ll know what needs to be improved.
    Little things like setting a timer when you put the rolls in the oven, or putting reminders on your phone to thaw the turkey or put the casserole in the oven can help you avoid big mess-ups!
    My best tip is make dessert delicious! That’s the last thing everyone eats and that’s what they’ll remember! If you need to buy a Pumpkin Pie at Sam’s Club, do it, then whip up your own whipping cream and sprinkle the top with Pumpkin Pie Spice to make it beautiful!
  4. Little time to prepare –
    I think we’re all nodding our heads on this one! The best thing to do is PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME as much as you can. If you saw my recent post, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of getting as much done beforehand as possible. Here’s a detailed list from a few years ago about my day before preparations. It made everything so simple!

Remember to keep your focus on the why of the holiday! Don’t let yourself get sucked into the trap of trying to do everything. Make the menu simple, but delicious. Make your home inviting (we’ll talk more about this Friday), and keep your own attitude sweet, welcoming and brimming over with thankfulness.

Are there other stress factors about hosting the holidays that I overlooked? What triggers anxiety in your heart?

Meal planning · organization · Thanksgiving

Early Preparations For Thanksgiving

Slow and steady wins the race, right? What are we racing towards?

Thanksgiving!

Yes, it’s true. Five weeks from tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day! (Didn’t we just celebrate Labor Day?!) Well, maybe so, but it’s true – we have five weeks to plan and prepare for this special holiday! That may sound like a lot of time, but considering how much there is to do if you’re hosting, the weeks will fly by! If you want to enjoy, rather than endure the holiday, planning and working ahead of time is your best friend!

I’ll be hosting this year, so I am trying to get my ducks turkeys in a row! No, I don’t have an outside job, but my life stays very busy. It would be easy to push things back and let the holiday slip up on me, but I am praying that the Lord will give me wisdom to prepare in such a way that I will be able to smile and embrace the day and each of my guests when Thanksgiving arrives!

So, what am I doing? Well, first of all, I’m doing what works best for me, and that’s making lists! I am using my phone for some jobs that need attention before my guests arrive. Here’s a peek at the list I’m adding to each day…

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I made that on “Reminders.” I like having that on my phone, because if I’m out and I need to remember what I needed to buy for the table, it’s right there at my fingertips. I will make a detailed list of the menu and food prep in my Happy Planner.

It’s amazing what tasks can be accomplished in short spans of time! Yesterday when I had 15 minutes while supper was finishing in the oven, I grabbed my large tablecloth and got my Thanksgiving Tablecloth ironed!

When I was finished, I hung it on a hanger and hung it in the front closet.

That’s one task completed!

Little time spans are useful to accomplish small tasks. Look for those five or ten minute windows when you’re on hold on the phone, when you’re ready to leave for work or church but have a few minutes to spare. Look for ways to use those minutes wisely so you can smile when Thanksgiving arrives, rather than panic!

This week I read in Luke 10 about Mary and Martha and was reminded that I often get my priorities out of whack when I’m having guests over. I am asking the Lord for a worshipful heart like Mary. If some things on my list don’t get accomplished, I don’t want to be in a flurry. I want to be fervent instead – fervent in pointing my family and guests to the Lord, Who so graciously blesses us every single day with an abundance of reasons to celebrate this day…with a smile.

Will you be hosting Thanksgiving this year? What are you doing now to prepare ahead?
If you’re going to be a guest, why not ask your hostess what you can do for her even now?

Refresh Thanksgiving by making early preparations!

gratitude · Thanksgiving

How Can We Give Thanks in 2020?

This year as we gather around our isolated Thanksgiving tables with fewer guests, goodies and grandeur than Thanksgivings in the past, how will we find it in our hearts to give thanks? Where will the outpouring of gratitude come from when we have experienced a year like 2020?

If you’re asking that question, I’m certain you’re not alone. While this has been a year full of Covid issues like isolation, restrictions, masks, sickness, and death, as well as such political unrest in our nation, we can find the reassurance that we can still have a heart of gratitude – and with really good reasons! The Lord opened my eyes to this Truth as I reviewed Philippians chapter 4 this week…

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

When I remember that Paul was writing this from his prison cell, I look out from the “prison cell” of 2020 and choose to give thanks for the things he listed in this passage…

  1. I will rejoice in the Lord! It’s not my circumstances, my current company or my material things in which I give thanks…it’s CHRIST. When I look at HIM and think on HIM, I can give thanks!
  2. I will realize that HE is HERE in this “cell” of 2020. Verse 5 says, He is at hand! He has never left us during all the hardship we’ve experienced. He is here to comfort, to help, to provide, to love, to supply. My family might not be with me on Thanksgiving, but Christ is! In that I will give thanks.
  3. I will pray and give Him the cares on my heart rather than carrying the burden myself. I can’t do anything about them, but He can. In that I will give thanks!

This passage reminds us that after we do those three things, we will have peace. It’s that peace that an unbeliever shakes his head at and wonders how we can smile and give thanks, even while we’re locked up in the cell. The key to being released from that prison is in giving thanks!!

Let’s lift our hearts in grateful praise even on Thanksgiving Day 2020. We have plenty of reasons!

With a truly grateful heart I wish each of you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

hospitality · Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Tithers

It’s hard to fathom that this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day! My husband says I’m “in a tither” with all my plans, maybe I am, but I just know that there’s lots of stuff going on before then and I have to think through all the details! It’s not stressing me, I’m just trying to prepare ahead. I love Thanksgiving and desire that it not be overshadowed by Christmas being pushed in ahead of its time.

Who but Christians have as much to be thankful for? Our hearts overflow with gratitude for all that the Lord has done for us. Every day we see His faithful hand in our lives – providing, protecting, guiding, supplying. How can we not be filled with thanks and look for an opportunity to tell Him thank you and share with others what He has done?

George Herbert put it this way:

Thou hast given so much to me;
Give me one thing more – a grateful heart.
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be thy praise.

The psalmist said it like this: Psalm 37:25 I was young, but now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. This is truly a testimony of God’s faithfulness! I can certainly say the same thing.

What can you do to make this a Thanksgiving that will stand out from all the rest and also ease your tithers?

  • Look for someone to invite to your family dinner. A widow, a college student studying in your area, or an elderly couple who can’t travel to their family’s gathering.
  • Make some easy appetizers for folks to snack on while dinner is cooking.  
  • Prepare a basket of food to give to a needy family
  • Instead of football naps, play games together as a family after the meal!
  • When I was a child, my dad always made a “bunny ice cream treat” for Easter. It was a tradition in our home. What about making a Thanksgiving treat for your little ones that can be the traditional treat you serve every year? How about these Turkey Treats? 
    10+ Easy Turkey Treats - Cute Ideas for Turkey Treats
      Or these
    Pilgrim hats?
Pilgrim Hats Peanut Butter Cups Recipe | Hallmark Ideas & Inspiration

They’re adorable and would be yummy too!

Just thought I’d share a few ideas with you, just in case you’re “in a tither” about Thanksgiving too!

With love from my country kitchen,