There will be times that you cannot show hospitality in your own home. If you are recovering from illness, for example, it would not be wise to invite people to dinner. If you do not have adequate living facilities or have temporary upheavals in your house or your life, you will not be able to make guests comfortable. Also, there are people who desperately need hospitality, but cannot get to your home due to infirmities, schedule conflicts or transportation problems. Maybe you are tending to your small children and just don’t have the time to prepare your home for hospitality.
Not all hospitality has to be strictly extended within the confines of your home. The Good Samaritan, in Luke chapter 10 was going somewhere else when he happened upon the injured man. He then took him to an inn and paid someone else to take care of him before continuing with his own business. Hospitality can be shown in many different ways. You’ve already read articles that give you ideas about hospitality at home, but there will be times when you cannot do this.
Perhaps do not have a place that has room for visitors, or have the necessary things to provide hospitality at home. You may have the responsibility of caring for someone who is disabled or sick, and are therefore not able to take on anything extra. People live alone or who are without transportation will appreciate being sent your gesture of hospitality.
If there is a delivery service provided by a store that you know of, why not order a box filled with ingredients for a special meal for someone you wish to entertain? You can also pick out an attractive bag and buy a prepared meal from the deli section of your grocery store. Sending ready-made breads and meals from the grocery store is a wonderful gesture of hospitality. Below are ideas for several different kinds of meal packages you can send to someone.
- A Pasta Meal basket, bag or container consists of a package of bread sticks, a jar of spaghetti sauce, some interesting pasta, bagged salad and dressing and something tasty to drink (perhaps sparkling cider or grape juice, which children especially enjoy as a special treat).
- Homemade soup mixes with packaged crackers fit nicely in a very small lunch box.
- An Afternoon Tea basket contains all the sandwiches, cut up raw vegetables (called “relishes”), and special bags of fruit tea. You might be able to include a tea cup and saucer that you don’t need or buy a new one you can afford.
- A Breakfast Basket can include traditional breakfast foods, purchased or home made. Home made cookie mixes, along with instructions, cookie cutters, and a small cookie jar or tin, make excellent hospitality gifts.
If you’d like to learn to make your own special occasion baskets, check out the book The Perfect Basket by Diane Phillips, also author of The Perfect Mix. In this book you can find recipes for mixes to include in your gift baskets.
To make a mix on your own, use your favorite recipe and eliminate any liquids. Mix only the dried ingredients such as flour, oats, seasonings, soup ingredients and so forth in a jar or small container or bag. Include instructions for adding the oil, water, milk, eggs or butter. This works for any recipe you already have. If the person to whom you are sending the basket does not have cooking facilities, it is better to send prepared food instead.
There may be someone you wish to treat in a special way on a special day. Ask someone to deliver a hatbox or other container filled with breakfast foods and drinks on that day. Most homemakers would give anything to have breakfast delivered to them, especially if they are recovering from illness, recently home from a trip or just needing some time off from cooking.
If you have children, this is a perfect opportunity to “teach as you go” by telling them what you are doing and what the Bible says about hospitality. As you load the basket, relate the stories and admonitions about hospitality. Tell how being a loving, giving, generous person can benefit others and enrich your own lives. God promises that he who waters will himself be watered. It is better to give than to receive.
You can also teach the history of Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison, who was known for her extraordinary hospitality. Include in your conversation other historical examples of hospitality. As you prepare your “hospitality box,” your children will be greatly influenced and educated by these lessons.
Food is not the only way to provide care and comfort to others. Boxes or bags can be filled with special craft items, reading materials such as interesting magazines and books, writing papers with stamps and pens, bath products, home decorating items, grooming products, special sewing supplies, and anything else that suits the person you wish to serve. Pencil boxes or school boxes can be covered in interesting paper or fabric and turned into special lunch boxes.
Hospitality boxes come in small sizes, too. Remember that empty cereal container or the tea box or even the round oatmeal canister? These can be covered and decoupaged with wrapping paper. You can use white school glue with a little water to paint over the wrapping paper, creating a glossy exterior. Glue on some decorative ribbons and buttons. Add tissue paper or other filler to cushion your gift items. These make great hostess gifts (gifts to give to your hostess when you are invited somewhere). I once received only an envelope with a packet of spices and a recipe for a breakfast bread. I thought this was a wonderful way to express hospitality.
When you are unable to create these boxes or baskets yourself, and if you can afford it, it is well worth the price to order them or have them made up by someone else. This saves you time and gets the job done.
A hospitality ministry is the perfect way to serve others. If you cannot deliver boxes or baskets to people who are shut in, you can make them up creatively and employ someone else to send them.
I have found a wonderful book published in 1980 called Hospitality: In the Spirit of Love, by Peggy Simpson (ISBN 0-89137-416-7), which is so motivating. Included in the book are not just reasons for showing hospitality, but household hints to make it easier, recipes, letter writing instructions, and even church manners. It devotes several chapters to being a good mother, and another chapter covers instructions for getting to know new people. There is even a chapter to help you scripturally improve your personality so that you can be more hospitable. I highly recommend this book as you work to extend hospitality to both friends and strangers.