Hospitality is one of those things that seems allusive, mysterious, and in a perfect form, impossible. We have a million and three things going on in our lives. For me, this season is filled with softball games, Tennessee football road trips, moving into a new home, working full-time during a pastoral transition, leading small groups, wanting to paint my nails and occasionally squeezing in a shower every once in a while. When I think about hosting people at our new house, I feel a rush of overwhelmed air filling my lungs and telling me to hold on for dear life.
The Proverbs 31 woman looms over my head. She’s like a one-woman army that can do everything all while donning a string of pearls. I have so many notes in my Bible from different passages that I take wisdom from, but in the margins of the scriptures illuminating that woman, the page is blank. I just marvel at her. Everyone in her home is provided for, taken care of and loved. I love hospitality, but goodness. She’s setting the bar high.
As I think back to all the ladies’ homes I’ve been to that felt the most like, well…home, I noticed a common thread. Authenticity. There was something different in the air at their homes. You know what I’m talking about. The way they cared for their families, loved on their loved ones, dressed themselves and decorated their homes all came from a place of genuine concern for each of those individuals. As we go throughout this series, peaking behind the full door into people’s homes, I dare to say that the core of hospitality is relationships. Mrs. Proverbs 31 was working and serving from the heart, not to create a perfectly curated Pinterest board. For my next few posts, we’re going to explore authenticity — what it looks like in its truest form, how we live our lives with it and how it affects our relationships and people that come into our homes. Let’s put a scent in the air of our homes that makes people feel welcome, just because of who they are and how we make them feel.
In the meantime, I wanted to leave you with some easy, time-conscious ways to make your home smell delightful for when guests come over.
This one seems like a no brainer, but I’m always surprised how few candles actually get lit in people’s homes. They’re not just for looks, people. If someone’s at our house, there’s at least one lit in every room. My mom even lights tea candles in some rooms when people come over. The trick is remembering to blow them out later. Here are a few of my favorite candles:
Capri Blue | Volcano | Ever walked into Anthropologie and wondered what that heavenly smell was? It’s Volcano.
Tyler Candles | Any of the Tyler Candles are fantastic. I’m partial to the Mulled Cider.
Any candle on sale, but try to stick with a soy or natural wax. They burn slower, and thus give you more burns per dollar. When you’re in T.J. Maxx or Target, just make a quick run through the candle aisle…just in case.
Seems like more work than it’s worth, but I don’t know that there’s a better smell than something baking in someone’s home. A mentor of mine keeps a package of break-n-bake cookies in the fridge at all times for this very reason. When people are about to come over, right before you make your mad dash to shove things in the closet and release the hound to “vacuum” for you, pop a dozen cookies in the oven. (And set a timer…burnt cookies aren’t AS good of a smell.) That’s a smell that lasts a while.
I’ve got a few recipes for you that you can try on your stove that leave a lasting scent. Here’s one for each season:
Fall: In a small pot, place 5-6 cinnamon sticks, several anise stars, dried oranges and a handful of whole cloves. Fill the pot halfway with water. Heat on low on a stove until the scent fills the kitchen. Watch closely to ensure the pot is always filled with water to prevent burning.
Winter: In a small pan, add 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, and 1 sliced orange. Add about 1 cup of water. Heat over low heat on a stove until the scent fills the kitchen. Watch closely to ensure the pot is always filled with water to prevent burning.
Spring: Mix water, sliced lemon, 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about a teaspoon of vanilla. Simmer on the stove….this smells amazing! I used 2 lemons, 3 sprigs of rosemary and about 2 tablespoons of vanilla. It only took 5 minutes to make the whole house smell fresh!
Summer: In a small pot, place 2 fresh slices of lime and a vanilla bean. Add a few drops of lime essential oils, if desired. Heat on low on a stove until the scent fills the kitchen. Watch closely again to ensure the pot is always filled with water to prevent burning.
“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” 1 Peter 4:9
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