When I created The Welcoming Table, I envisioned it to be a site where I could spotlight real people and their experiences inviting others into their homes. That's why I'm excited today to share my first post about a family who loves entertaining and has found ways to make it easy.
Meet Brianna and Her Family
Ever since Brianna and her husband were first married and living in Germany as missionaries, they've been inviting people over for dinner. They love to connect with other people over meals in their home. Now, years later and back in the U.S., her husband's a family minister at their church, Brianna's a high school choir director, they have three kids, and they're constantly on the go.
Between their family's involvement with their kids' schools and church, Brianna says their house sees a steady stream of people coming in and out. They host a small group from church every quarter, teens and their families in the summer, a couple of parties in the fall, an occasional game night, and they try to invite new families from church over about once a month.
Their secret to entertaining so frequently on top of a busy schedule? Working together as a team.
Working Together as a Team
When I heard about how Brianna and her family make entertaining easy by working together, I knew that I wanted to tell you about them. They have their system down to a science, and while you may not entertain as frequently as they do, you can borrow some of their ideas for when you invite people over to your house.
Using Tried-and-True Recipes
The first thing that Brianna does to make entertaining easy is by sticking to three simple, tried-and-true meals. These recipes are great-tasting but require a low amount of trouble. Having three meals that she fixes regularly for guests, the whole family knows what to expect, and her husband can jump in to help prepare the food, if needed.
Brianna's three go-to meals are
- BBQ-pulled pork in the Crockpot or Instant Pot with rolls, green beans and oven roasted potatoes.
- Turkey chili, green salad and cornbread muffins or Red Lobster biscuits (from a mix)
- Chicken Enchiladas made and rolled the night before, instant Spanish rice, and beans.
For dessert, she typically fixes either brownies and Bluebell vanilla ice cream or a warm fruit crisp and ice cream.
Related: Choosing Go-To Meals for Entertaining
Cleaning the House
The second way that Brianna's family makes entertaining easy is by working together to get the house ready for guests. Each child starts with their daily chores and then focuses on cleaning their bedrooms.
Next, Brianna writes a list of tasks that need to be done on a white board in their kitchen.
Here are some examples of jobs that she typically assigns:
- straightening/putting things away
- cleaning the guest bathroom
- setting up a drink station
- arranging folding chairs and furniture
- yard work (if it's an outdoor party)
If Brianna tried to do all of this work on her own, entertaining might feel stressful or burdensome, but because everyone pitches in, the workload gets distributed more evenly.
Playing Different Roles
The third way the family makes hosting groups manageable is by playing specific roles while guests are at their house. While Brianna puts the finishing touches on the food, her husband greets the guests at the door, visiting with them and helping them feel welcome.
Her daughter, age 15, acts as Brianna's sous-chef, helping to finish the cooking and setting the table. Her 11-year-old son puts ice in all the glasses and gets out a box of toys for younger kids who come over. And her 13-year-old son helps with cleanup throughout the get-together, clearing plates and taking the trash out when it fills up.
By assigning tasks ahead of time, everyone in the family knows what to expect and the kids aren't blindsided by unexpected chores during the party. I think this is brilliant, and I look forward to implementing it the next time we're hosting a group at our house.
Takeaways from Brianna and her family
What can we learn from Brianna and her family?
Family Culture of Hospitality
What I love about this family is that they've created a culture of hospitality in their home. Inviting people over is an important part of their values and their family identity. And they've come up with systems and roles that make it easy for them to extend a dinner invitation.
If you have kids old enough to help with chores, they're old enough to help get ready for guests. And in giving them that responsibility, you're helping them feel a part of hosting instead of seeing it as something that just grown-ups do.
That's not the only benefit of getting your kids involved in entertaining. If you feel like you have to do it all -- the cleaning beforehand, cooking, and cleanup afterwards -- you might be less willing to invite people over.
Working together as a family to prepare for guests makes it easier to want to invite people into your home. And Brianna's family is the perfect example of this.
What 3 tools does Brianna use the most?
I asked her, and here are the three tools she relies on the most:
1) A Slow Cooker and/or Instant Pot -- Brianna uses one or the other for each of her three go-to meals, saving her time and giving her the freedom to work on side dishes or to clean.
Related: Instant Pot vs. Crockpot: Which One Is Best?
10 Things You Can Make in Your Instant Pot (That Are Great for Entertaining!)
2) A Plates & Utensils Caddy -- If you keep a caddy stocked with paper plates, disposable utensils, and napkins, you can pull it out anytime you're feeding a group. Brianna bought hers at Sam's, but you can buy this one online.
3) Extra folding chairs -- If you plan to host large groups often, a set of folding chairs can help turn your house or yard into a great space for entertaining.
Brianna's #1 tip for entertaining
Just go for it! We’ve hosted in a 900-square-foot apartment, and we’ve hosted in a two-story home. We’ve hosted with babies and toddlers, and we've hosted with teens. There have been times when we've had the house spotless and times when we haven't.
No matter what, no one has ever complained about anything when they come over, whether it’s a full-on party or a casual gathering. People are just happy to get together. Don’t overthink it -- just go for it!
I hope hearing about how Brianna and her family host regularly gives you some ideas and inspiration to just step out and invite someone over for dinner. It doesn't have to be a big group. It could just be your next-door neighbor or a family you've recently met. Like Briana says, "Don't overthink it -- just for for it!" And when you do, enlist your family to help.
Do you know someone I could feature here on The Welcoming Table? Who do you know that epitomizes hospitality to you or who has a unique way of opening up their home to others?
Click on the contact page above or send me an email to sandi (at) thewelcomingtable (dot) com to tell me!
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