Gathering seems to be one of those big topics nowadays. In one week alone, I read three different articles about some kind of gathering. Ultimately, I think that now, as we spend so much time in front of screens for work and entertainment, people are looking for the relationships that only person to person contact can supply. Except… it’s so much easier in our heads to text a friend while watching the latest Netflix movie. That’s safe. That’s comfortable. The screen between is a wall we use to protect ourselves and keep things easy. The problem is that relationships can only go so far over the wall. You only see someone’s life in the perfect little squares that they want you to see. You don’t see their excitement at keeping a houseplant alive. You don’t see their frustration that their cat has fleas. You don’t see their struggle with depression and infertility. They aren’t going to post a picture of themselves ugly crying when a day is just too much. Slowly, I feel like people are realizing that Instagram isn’t everything and putting down their phones. There is so much fun and support to be had in gathering and you don’t realize it until you just do it.
“I believe that a godly home is a foretaste of heaven. Our homes, imperfect as they are, must be a haven from the chaos outside. They should be a reflection of our eternal home, where troubled souls find peace, weary hearts find rest, hungry bodies find refreshment, lonely pilgrims find communion, and wounded spirits find compassion.” ~ Jani Ortlund
When we were first married, I came across the quote above and I’ve made it the mission for our home ever since. It’s one of the reasons we love to host! Dearest Carl and I love having people in our home to share and know and love. Whether it’s a simple movie night or a large Mother’s Day celebration, I enjoy creating an environment that’s inviting, restful and rejuvenating. But too recently, I’ve realized that I can’t assume that everyone loves hosting and finds it easy just because I do. So I’ve tried to put together a few simple tips to help you host a gathering yourself without all the stress. Put away those thoughts of fancy place settings and four course meals. This is gathering made easy in three steps with the purpose of building relationships.
- Invite based on your space. We chose our home because of the large rooms and backyard that we knew would accomodate our large families. We host our small group weekly and we have hosted large gatherings because we have the space for it. But the number of people doesn’t define a gathering. If you can only fit two other people in your apartment, then invite two other people! Don’t stress trying to find seating for sixteen around your table for four.
- Just tidy. Confession: I rarely deep clean my house. Currently when we have people over, I spend about a half hour clearing surfaces, plumping pillows, wiping down the bathroom and sweeping floors. But we still had people over when we were in the middle of our living room renovation and everything was covered in drywall dust! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just tidy enough to ease your own heart and leave it at that.
- Raid the pantry. Food will make a person feel good whether it’s Coq Au Vin or grilled cheese. If you’re serving dinner, make spaghetti or chili. Throw together a pizza with the stuff in your fridge. Pick something you know like the back of your hand and is super simple to put together. Pro tip, keep homemade cookie dough in your freezer! Even if you aren’t serving a full meal, no one will say no to a warm melty fresh chocolate chip cookie. The fact that you cared enough to prepare even the simplest meal WILL touch hearts.
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to just extend your hand. Odds are that the person you’re inviting is probably longing for some deeper relationships as much as you are and they won’t even care about the cat hair on the rug.
Image via @tifforelie