Don’t feel like you need a House Beautiful home before you can invite people over. If I had, I wouldn’t have had the blessing of all the wonderful people we’ve had into our home all these years, because I still don’t have a House Beautiful home! You don’t need to fix a complicated meal either. I love using a crock pot for company meals so I don’t have a lot of last minute preparations to do. Be sure to let your kids help with the preparation and serving too. The more they invest in the company, the more they will appreciate it.
The following is a list of 10 ways you can bless people by opening up your homes to them.
1. “Adopt” a college kid or single person-We live in a college town where we have a lot of kids coming to town for 4 years and then moving on. Through the years we’ve looked for kids who might enjoy a home-cooked meal and being around a family every now and then. We’ve found MANY that did and invited them to our house. Many live far away and don’t get to go home for Thanksgiving. We like to check around and see if there are any each year who need a place to celebrate and a good meal to eat. We’ve made lots of friendships with so many great people. Many find it interesting to see what life in a large family is like.
We have many “adopteds” as we call them- kids who became specially close to members of our family and therefore came to our house on a regular basis. Lifelong friendships are built. I think of one young man who was friends with our older boys. He recently moved back to town with his wife and soon to be six children and he still is just a “part of our family”.
Check for single people. They often need someone to take them under their wing. They don’t get invited to “couple” events and often need special relationships more than married folks. We have several very special singles who we consider to be part of our family as well.
2. Christmas Open House– holidays are a great time to open up your home. Years ago we had a Christmas party where we sang carols around a bonfire, had someone share a Christmas devotional and then enjoyed soups, breads and yummy desserts. It became an annual tradition. People enjoyed coming, and we wanted to reach out to people we hadn’t had before, but the occasion was getting way too large for our average sized house. So we now have added one or two Christmas ‘open houses’ during the season as well; we invite folks to come and bring a snack to share and we have lots of wonderful Christmas foods. One week a couple Christmas seasons ago, we had 250 people through our home in one week!! We have people who look forward to coming every year and we try to add some new folks each year as well.
3. Independence Day Cookout- Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. Ever since I did research for For You They Signed, we’ve added a little more focused meaning to our annual July 4th cookout. We pass out to guests short readings about the signers of the Declaration of Independence- either sacrifices they made or what they believed about Jesus Christ. One of my sons reads the Declaration of Independence, as well as Patrick Henry’s speech to the signers. We often have a story for kids and many years our grandkids prepare and present a play. My favorite was when they dressed up as signers and memorized many of the words the signers actually spoke. We sometimes have a pinata for kids, have sack races, yard games, and a cookout with watermelon and LOTS of food. My son Nate often dresses up like Uncle Sam and passes candy out to the kids. Sometimes we have a veteran share something as well.
4. Sunday Night Get-Togethers- we started inviting people to our home every Sunday night after church as our oldest kids approached their teen years. Dad would make pancakes or omelets for everyone. It was a fun time. As the family began to grow and the kids had girlfriends/boyfriends and then got married, we continued the tradition inviting other folks from church as well. Once the grandkids got to a certain age, it became difficult for them on Sundays. Sundays are so hard on little ones schedules, so we switched to Friday night family nights, which we do each Friday. All the families bring a dish and we have supper together. It’s great. I love to play with the grandkids and they LOVE being with all their cousins and it provides a good time for all our kids to catch up with their brothers/sisters and families. There are 37 of us now!
5. Widowers Dinner – we go to a large church, and there are quite a few widowers in it. Men who are used to eating their wives cooking who all of a sudden lose her and have to begin cooking for themselves. We love having widowers up. They are often lonely as well, and we love to ask questions about their lives and have learned so much from them! Sometimes we bring them a pie or chocolate cake to church as well. They say when an old person dies, a library is lost. It has been our experience that so much wisdom of life can be learned from these men.
6. Visiting Missionaries- We’ve made a priority over the years of extending our home to visiting missionaries. Boy, what a blessings that has been. You never run out of anything to talk about. Just ask about their experiences in a foreign field, how they came to choose that field, how people respond to the gospel, etc. We have established real lasting relationships with many missionaries. Some have even become our “adopted grandparents” for our children.
7. New people At Church- have you ever “shopped” for a church to attend? It can be a lonely experience to not feel connected to any particular church body. We’ve done it a few times, and I think it’s made us sensitive to others in that position. As I said we live in a college town and lots of families come in for a few years who are looking for a temporary church home. We try to invite newcomers, so when they come back to check out our church there will be someone they feel a little connected to.
8. “Barton” nights- Our family has been incredibly blessed by the ministry of David Barton of Wallbuilders, who shares about our godly heritage in this country. We buy his sets of DVD’s and years ago after watching one, thought, “Wow, others would benefit from hearing these too”. So we opened our home on Tuesday nights and called it “Barton night”. We invited other families to watch the DVD’s with us, then discuss them and how we could put into practice what we’d learned. We provided refreshments or had others bring them, and all had a great time. I highly recommend it. We’ve continued with other culture-changing DVD’s as well to challenge others as well as ourselves.
9. Veterans – We LOVE veterans!! If you want to teach your kids how to honor people deserving of honor, look around and find some veterans and invite them into your home. Ask them about where they served, and what they experienced. You can’t help but learn honor from them. We’ve interviewed many World War II vets and many have become special friends that we continue to invite into our home or go visit in their home as the case may be. Talk about learning history in a way you’ll never forget! We just met a man last week who was a survivor of the Bataan Death March and a prisoner of the Japanese for 3 1/2 years. We feel incredibly honored and blessed beyond measure to have met them.
10. Young families- Having had 14 kids, we’ve had lots of young families approach us and want to come over and ask questions. Young moms hold a special place in my heart! There are so many questions and struggles. It all seems so new and you don’t want to “mess your kids up”. How do you get everything done? How do you have time to do laundry? What do you do when your kids whine all the time? What did you do when your kids kept getting out of bed at night? It’s such a help to learn what worked or didn’t work for others who’ve been there. It even helps to learn that those things are normal and others experience them too.