Leaving Your Comfort Zone:
Being Hospitable

Please welcome my friend Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer as my guest today!


I‘ve been thinking a lot about comfort. I’m not a lover of winter, and I’m beginning to hate the cold more and more. My hot tub has become my new best friend. It warms me up and brings comfort to my sometimes-aching body (thank you, running partners, for getting me up at 5 am!). It’s undemanding, relaxing, and requires nothing of me.

When I think about entertaining – immediately my mind goes to comfort. Comfort is easy — it makes you feel good. It soothes, consoles, and reassures that everything is okay. We all love comfort.

I want entertaining to come easy. I want a perfect meal with ideal guests, a beautiful table setting with ambience that is surreal. I want conversation to flow and guests to leave refreshed.

With entertaining, I often find myself being stretched outside of my comfort zone. This happens when it doesn’t go exactly the way I think it should. There are often glitches when I have to learn to move through the situation with grace and ease.

To all of us, being stretched means different things. To some it might mean gaining enough courage to invite people into your home! To some it might mean stepping up your cooking a little bit. To many it means taking the risk of asking people to come into your non-perfect house.

I know what God requires of me, and that is sometimes to be stretched outside of my comfort zone. The beauty of hospitality is that it flows differently to each individual, so there is no certain way that something has to be done.

It’s not easy for me to leave my comfort zone, but I have to determine in my mind that it’s actually helping me grow when I leave it! I’m still learning to become more courageous and flexible.

I’m wondering if you, too, struggle with leaving your comfort zone?

What prevents you from wanting to entertain in your home?

photo: Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer

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Comments

  1. I have definite qualms about inviting people over (and being in a small town now, where the “we just dropped by” happens more than I’m used to) because of the size of our tiny apartment and being worried about what people think. I keep thinking if we could just get a storage unit for all this extra stuff it would be so much better – but do I wait for that day to come or do I just keep the stuff neat and as unobtrusive as possible?

    We’re in a tiny two bedroom, one bath apartment with only two tiny closets and I just feel… well cramped on a good day and concerned about how guests would feel.

    Kelly Os inspiring blog post..Movin’ Right Along

  2. Sometimes the smallness of my house keeps me from entertaining, but every time I do, I have the greatest time! I think it’s all about perspective…and good company! Thanks gals, for sharing this post and reminding me to get out of my comfort zone!

    the BLAH BLAH BLAHgers inspiring blog post..Tuesday Tool Talk

  3. A big challenge is shifting the focus of our entertaining anxiety from ourselves to our guests. Sure, we’re thinking about our guests when we figure out the food and what the table looks like and if we should have music playing. But really, that’s about making an impression… which is about how other see us. Most people just want to be in a comfortable place where they don’t have to pretend. If we don’t pretend, they won’t either.

    My First Kitchens inspiring blog post..Ribs on the Barbie

  4. I don’t entertain because I have 12 TwitterBudgies, 2 mooses, 4 kids and husband at home…and to say the house looks like a, ahem, disaster area is complimenting me too much. :)

    Data points, Barbara

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coachs inspiring blog post..The Kimkins Diet Scam

  5. Debbykay says:

    Your post was a good reminder to share gifts of hospitatlity in whatever shape! We try to have family and/or friends over at least every other week–but, not without putting forth some energy. Working full time++ makes it difficult.

    Thanks for your inspiring post!

    Debbykay

    Debbykays inspiring blog post..Inspired by Red

  6. I’ll admit that being hospitable comes fairly easy to me when I make that choice. I often have to remind myself to lower my expectations and that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. If I wait for things to be perfect to show hospitality, it occurs rarely. If I “go with the flow”, it is more relaxed and happens more frequently. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Suzanne

    suzannes inspiring blog post..Come back later today for a giveaway or even two or three…..

  7. We hardly ever invite anyone over to our home. I always feel like we live too far away, the dogs will be a pain, the toddler will cause havoc, we can’t cook, etc. The list goes on and on. I need to just forget that all and maybe invite our neighbors over that have kids and dogs…that would take care of it!

    living with lindsays inspiring blog post..Teach Me Tuesday: Adding Masculinity to Your Decor

  8. Thanks for having me, Melissa! It’s all about the bodies in the chairs – I love it when people figure that out when it comes to hospitality. I can only imagine the time we’d have around the table with you and J. I’m honored to be your guest today :)

    sandys inspiring blog post..Food is Love!

  9. My husband and I decided at the end of last year that we’d try to invite over one family from work or church every week. We moved here a year ago, and hadn’t made many friends. It’s stretched me, definitely, since I am a strong introvert. I make the same dish every time- a simple rice and beans or chili, with fresh bread and a nice vegetable. It’s comfort food, and lets me relax and be with our guests rather than in the kitchen (which is especially important since we have very young children!)

    Some weeks the dinners feel awkward, but most often we’re waving good bye at the end of the evening to new friends.

    Myrnies inspiring blog post..Fail

  10. We’ve been focused on baby-proofing the house before we invite friends over since most of our friends have little toddlers (and we have a split entry house with big wide gaps between the railings). Considering that we’ve also got a budding toddler, we need to just spend the $20, put up a baby gate, and stop making the excuse!

    Kristines inspiring blog post..Weekend Revel: Thrifting

  11. Entertaining definitely takes me out of my comfort zone. I think of the amount of work it is and the expense of entertaining and I can easily talk myself out of inviting someone over. We recently bought a weekend beach house and that has helped, knowing that there is lots to do there to keep company busy and entertained. I too love lots of ambience so I tend to work harder than I have too but for me, setting a pretty table and doing those little extra things shows my guests that I care and am glad they came.

    Suzanne@Notes from the Patchs inspiring blog post..Sweet illumination

  12. I know I had to decide right from the day we moved in (in January) that we would be hospitable–that was going to be a priority for us. So, even with boxes everywhere and only half my furniture here, we have had several people for dinner and a number of dessert nights in our home. All with people we just met! I really have to work hard at NOT overdoing it, because I love to create a special place for guests to come. But when that prevents me from having many people over, I need to give myself permission to take a step back and do less.

    I can always find an excuse for putting off entertaining (I don’t love to cook, I have a few more projects to get done around the house, I’m too busy working, whatever), but I am trying to be in the habit of doing it no matter what. Thanks for the inspiration, you are so right, it is all about getting out of my comfort zone.

  13. Melissa, you are so right when you said you just had to decide to do it, even though things weren’t ideal.

    People love to be invited – they like to be thought of. They really don’t care if you don’t have all your boxes put away or if you have all your trim finished! When we moved, we just acted like the house was all complete and had people over. They loved it and would always comment on how warm and inviting the house was! This made us laugh because we have hand me down furniture and at that time we were in the process of replacing our trim – many doorways had NO trim at all. People didn’t care!

    I feel a post of my own coming on!

    Mrs.Rabes inspiring blog post..Emily Had A Birthday

  14. The only thing holding me back right now in regards to opening my home is the fact that most of the time we all include the children in our group gathering. Sad to say, but some of the kids I don’t really want running around unsupervised upstairs in my home. It’s getting better as the kids mature. I have somewhat solved this problem by limiting the size of the group to one, at the most two, other families. That way there’s not a whole herd of kids up there! ;-)

    Lazy Mom Leslies inspiring blog post..TMT – Time to get Organized

  15. We moved into our house in June..it wasn’t until the end of October that we had a gathering there – I was so nervous!
    I am a designer and I was just soooo anxious of other peoples opinions of my home. It is a lot of pressure. Since then we have hosted a lot of parties and I am fine with it – although I will admit that the 15 minutes before people arrive is always a blur of hysteria and anxiety!

    Mois inspiring blog post..Reasons to just listen to a CD…

  16. Sandy, we’re not just sharing a name, but it’s almost as if you’ve written this post especially for me. :-) Entertaining is something I’ve struggled with in the past few years. I have a cat, but most of my friends don’t have any pets, so I usually feel compelled to clean my flat top to bottom before I invite anybody over. As a result of that I feel stressed out even before the entertaining proper begins. I guess I have to relax a bit more and stop worrying about one or two stray cathairs.

    I’m determined to step out of my comfort zone this year, and have decided I’ll start with some easy entertaining like inviting friends over for tea. To further encourage myself I’ve ordered some nice new English tea set – it would be a shame not to use it, so I simply have to invite people over.

    Thank you for your inspiring post!

    Best wishes from Germany,
    Sandy

  17. The thing that holds me back from entertaining is that I am just not that sophisticated. We live fairly simply. We are meat and potato people. I even feel out of my element with some family members. One sister is into wine and know what type goes with what meal. We don’t even drink wine. A friend brought wine for a meal at our house and we didn’t even have a corkscrew to open it with! I dread running into awkward situations like.

    Carries inspiring blog post..I Think I Found My Silver Lining!

  18. Jessica G. says:

    I love having people in my home, and there are few things that hold me back from having family and friends over. The size of my tiny home does not matter because most people here have tiny homes. If we let that stop us, dinner parties would never happen! :) My problem is being open to my neighbors–those who I don’t know. It is these people that I want to create community with, but it seems so hard to venture out of my comfort zones to connect with them. Part of it is a California thing. For the most part, we are individualistic and closed here. If I want to meet my neighbors, I have to go to their front doors and knock, which is terrifying. No one really hangs out outside. We do not live within a culture of hospitality, as is true in other parts of the country. I need to just get over this. :)
    Thank-you for this post!

  19. This is a great post that I can relate to, greatly! Thank you.

    I really love entertaining. I’m not afraid to invite people over and inside my home. But I usually begin to get really uncomfotable a couple of days before when my mind starts to play games with me. Telling me that the decor is not enough. The food is not enough. I’m constantly having to remind myself that people often expect nothing in terms of a grand table setting and detailed menu. I think I’m weird.

    Chabliss inspiring blog post..Update

  20. Ashlyn Carter says:

    great post. I really love those thoughts. Sometimes, I get so worked up over everything being “perfect” that actually enjoying our guests and the company they bring is difficult. Over the years, I’ve learned to do as much in advance as possible – that way, the day of the party or dinner is more relaxed! :)

    Ashlyn Carters inspiring blog post..loving this: nature meets home.

  21. Easy one: housing or getting rid of the clutter.

  22. It’s interesting though how other people find it difficult to entertain for reasons other than ‘wanting’ or ‘affording’ to entertain. Very good subject!

  23. Hello Melissa…

    I’m fairly new to your blog but must say that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it since I’ve found it! I’ve added you to my list of “follow blogs” and look forward to your upcoming posts! So very nice to meet you!!!

    Wow…loved this post today! You hit me “square between the eyes” with the idea of leaving my comfort zone! I’m such a perfectionest that many times it hinders me from having guests into our home…just because I want everything perfect….I then become overwhelmed and many times it’s easier to just not do it! It really all sounds so silly to me…even as I’m typing this…because I know that my guests really wouldn’t care if my linen closet was perfectly cleaned and organized….hmmm, I guess that I need the Lord’s help in “lightening up a bit”…hehe! Thank you for the “eye-opener”!

    Warmest wishes,
    Chari

    Charis inspiring blog post..

  24. I have been in my home for 2 years now. And I have only had family over. In Memphis my daughter had playdates. The playdates were held at each others houses. Over here a playdate doesn’t seem to be done at peoples houses.

    SoBella Creationss inspiring blog post..Great News for My Readers

  25. What keeps me from entertaining? I am very busy anyway with work, house, kids, husband that I am exhausted by the end of the day. It is hard to make time and effort to entertain others. But when I do I really feel more refreshed and think, I should do that more often. That was fun. It is just hard to build up motivation sometimes, so this post was helpful. Hmmm, who can I invite for dinner?

    Taylor at Household Management 101s inspiring blog post..Mar 6, Subscribe To My Site For Free Through Email Of With Feedburner

  26. I don’t like my house the way it is…it needs sorting, and I am not happy inviting people in….and to tell the truth I have never been one for entertaining in our home, also we don’t have many friends…I have lots of friends, and my husband knows men at work, but we don;t have friends as a couple..maybe one day!

    annes inspiring blog post..Our Short Walk…..

  27. Entertaining has always been a priority for my family. With two small children and a love for cooking, I often end up with more food than we can eat in one setting. The best solution is to invite someone over! A lot of times this means a last-minute invitation, which typically works out just fine. In fact, I just extended an invite to some friends for tomorrow night. It’s just how things roll around here! It’s fun to host planned dinners requiring extra effort, but these fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants occasions are often the most memorable. No stressing about the house. Easy fare. Taking the time to spend time with the people we love the best or hope to get to know better.
    Thanks for the wonderful reminder to extend hospitality whenever we are able!

    Shannans inspiring blog post..Monday Menu Plan

  28. I like to have people over, what i am having problems with is getting it all done with the kids running around and then cooking… i want to throw in the towel and order pizza instead.
    LuLu

    LuLus inspiring blog post..L is for…..

  29. We don’t have a dining room and there is limited seating otherwise. Once warm weather is here, then I’ll probably do some out back. We can seat around 8 or so there. The yard is a mess due to 2 dogs and needing seeding, but I can probably live with it. Potted plants and pretty cushions for the chairs….and the crap outta there!

  30. As a former meeting planner… I love planning parties. If someone needs an idea or menu ideas for a party you should probably ask me or my girlfriends. I’m blessed to have friends who are also my neighbors. In the spring everyone enjoys hanging out in the front yard (BYO drink, lawn chairs & appetizers) while the girls chat and the kids run around blowing off steam we catch up! We’ve all learned that nothing fancy or expensive always ranks high on everyone’s list to help keep things comfortable.

    Charlotte at Simply Divine Christmass inspiring blog post..God is Not so Distant When a Child Needs Help

  31. Great ecouraging post, Sandy!

    I think the thing bothers me, entertaining-wise – though we do entertain often- is my lack of decorating skill. I feel very self-conscience about my house… wondering if it feels inviting, or homey, or comfortable. Is it clean enough, fun for kids… the list goes on.

    I pore over my Pottery Barn, etc. magazines yet I just can’t bring those same beautiful rooms to life in my own house.

    So, though it doesn’t necessarily hold me back from entertaining, it does cause me anxiety. :)

    -Andrea

  32. My husband, bless his heart, is much more outgoing than I am. He’s the extrovert, I’m the introvert. He is usually the one who makes plans & invites people over, which is GOOD for me. I covet my time alone, but I am so blessed when friends come over, and once they are there, I have a good time. But, it drains me while it energizes my husband. I’ll need some time to myself to recuperate, then I’m ready for more company!

    Erins inspiring blog post..Sharpie Art & A Quiet Rainy Saturday

  33. I must still be spinning from my stay in the hospital because I thought you said hospitalized and my first thought oh no not you too! Then when I actually read the post I was releaved…. Oh, Hospitable. :}
    Thanks Melissa for sharing Sandy with us- great post and great ideas.
    I try to look outside my circle of friend every few months and invite them over. We always have a great time.
    Have a wonderful day.

    teresas inspiring blog post..Mr. Mac

  34. This post has really made me think:(

  35. We don’t entertain much because: I’m a curdmudgeonly introvert, not a great cook, we have four noisy children, a small house and it’s expensive. We try to have a July 4th bbq every year (get all the entertaining over with at once) but we don’t have much of an outdoor space to dazzle folks with–unless you are 3-8 years old and will enjoy the (very dilapidated) swing set. I think of myself as an honorary traditional Japanese person in this respect: they rarely invited non-family to their homes, but any parties or meetings were done in rented rooms or restaurants. The home was too private for mere entertaining. I am also a perfectionist, so I get into a tizzy worrying about the food, the house, the level of cleanliness…. Mostly though, it’s the introversion.

    LeeAnns inspiring blog post..Attempt at discovering "My Style"

  36. My personal opinion is that my husband should do the cooking!!! And I do all the entertaining!!! Well most of it. Big smile. Usually he cooks and I do the clean up and we entertain together…I love it….people always laugh and enjoy visiting the minute you put a little finger food in their hand! They start talking and laughing when they stand around a big bowl of something dipping it in something else! It is always worth the mess when people look at you and say ” I had such a wonderful time”….I love that. Great guest post today Melissa…hope you are well!
    Blessings,
    Debbie

    Debbies inspiring blog post..Before and Afters-Met Monday

  37. We entertain a lot. My husband and I have several parties a year and every time we both get “party anxiety”.

    I worry about the house being clean enough, what we’re going to serve, is everyone going to fit comfortably, and being shy around any new people. My husband is very outgoing, but he worries about no one showing up and everyone having a good time.

    99.9% of the time, everyone shows and has a great time, and we end up relaxing and having a great time, too. I just have to remind myself every time that our friends aren’t coming to inspect our house or criticize the food, just as I’m not when I go to their houses. They are coming to spend time with us.

    ashley morgans inspiring blog post.."Ski" Trip

  38. My house is really small and not decorated the way I want it to be, along with two boys and two dogs… you get the picture right?
    I’ve kind of gotten over the “entertaining” aspect and have been trying to focus on being “hospitable.” This makes it easier for me to have others in my home.

    Mrs. Dunbars inspiring blog post..The Thief and a wee giveaway

  39. I love this post. I just took a hard look at my back deck today. With the recent addition of a new puppy and 2 cats to our farm – it looks more like a barn than a space for outdoor living. Now that the weather is warming up it’s a perfect spot for entertaining (after some spring cleaning). I think we women have to get beyond our quest for perfection and get on with the art of living and entertaining. Most guest just want the warmth and hospitality of our company and some nourishing comfort food – the rest is just fluff!

    Denises inspiring blog post..The Geek Squad hits Seattle

  40. I am one of those who is leery of letting anyone see my imperfect home with its bad floors and doggie hair tumbleweeds. There is so much to do and I don’t know where to start! We do have small group at our house every month but I NEVER ask people to come over for the sake of entertaining. I need to realize that everyone’s home has its imperfections, and I’m probably the only one who sees mine!

    Heathahlees inspiring blog post..Pillow Parade!

  41. Awesome post! Thank you :)
    I enjoy creating an atmoshere for others to enjoy. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just inviting and comfortable. We set that tone largely by our own attitudes. Focusing on our guests instead of our own shortcomings will create an atmoshere people want to come back to! This is what I’m learning as I get older anyway :) Decorating is fun (actually a passion of mine!) but at the end of the day it’s really a matter of heart.

    JanMaries inspiring blog post..Lessons And The Lions Roar!

  42. Great article and it really made me stop and think. Other than family we haven’t entertained in our home in well over 1 1/2 years. We both have busy schedules and right now my dining area has been turned into my studio. So, that poses my first problem. Secondly, most of our friends are in the immediate Nashville area or a bit south. We are about 40 miles north of Nashville. Usually we just meet them in Nashville somewhere. Maybe I’ll put together a barbeque this summer. Thanks for the article.

    Have a Happy Day

    Kris

    Kriss inspiring blog post..Buon Vino ~~ Care for a glass of wine?

  43. My lazieness keeps me from it. sometimes I want to just get in my jammies at 6:30 and eat cereal for dinner. To have to be “on” as George Castanza says and connect can be overwhelming at times.

    The Nesters inspiring blog post..Life Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Wonderful

  44. We rarely entertain. I’m not as concerned with the state of my house or with cooking as I am the fear of holding a “sparkling” conversation. I too am introverted and feel very anxious at the prospect of being responsible for the happiness and entertainment of someone else. When we do have people over, we often end up playing a game after dinner like Pictionary which gets everyone relaxed and laughing. This helps.

    Homebodys inspiring blog post..Colors and Canines

  45. I struggled with wanting everything to be perfect before I would open my home. You helped me overcome that fear with your blog – thanks! I realized it was pride about what people would say or think when in reality, they just want to be loved and to be invited in to our homes.

    Something else that that used to hold me back was other peoples children. I am amazed at people who will come into your home at 6pm and not check on their young children at all – ever! Even with crying or fussing kids in the basement or in the bedrooms. It is tough to say, ‘your child has pulled my clothes off the hangers and has thrown all the books on the floor’. To solve that, I invite those friends over during the summers and everyone stays outside.

    For larger parties, I shell out the money and hire babysitters. My last party was for 30 adults and 17 children under the age of 8! I hired 2 babysitters and a jr babysitter (babysitter’s younger sister, age 11) and consider it money well spent!
    ~Amanda

  46. Cooking for someone other than my family terrifies me!!! I feel so out of place in the kitchen!

  47. I have all white furniture and a very, very clean house. To me, this is comfortable. But I think that to others, especially my family, it is uncomfortable because they are afraid of spilling or messing something up. When spills happen (and they DO), I always react like it’s no big deal, and I deal with it later. I don’t know what I can do to make my house more comfortable for guests while keeping it clean and white enough for my own comfort…

    Jenelles inspiring blog post..An Inner Power

  48. When it comes to entertaining always surround yourself with close friends and family. Forget about trying to impress people. Remember that the food you serve doesn’t have to be picture perfect and your house only has to be clean and tidy.
    Charlotte recently posted..Savory and Sweet Brunch Menu IdeasMy Profile

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