I have news for you!! Good News!
God has not asked us to do anything that will put us in debt or cause our children to starve. He has asked us to be hospitable and love people with the resources He has already given us. He has asked us to trust Him to provide the things we need. The key is realizing that all these things are just that -things. Things that God has given us to use for HIM. What good are things if not used to make a difference in someone's life?
So, how do I keep it simple?Remember, hospitality is NOT about me and my things. It's about others and their needs. I've never had anyone get upset with me because my dishes don't match or my floor has dirt on it.
In fact, sometimes when I know I'm about to have a lot of people over, *whispering* I don't even mop the floor till AFTER they leave for 2 reasons.
One - they're just going to mess it all up again anyway
Two - there will be so many people in and around that no one will notice it all anyway. (we don't even ask people to take their shoes off anymore because we don't have room for all the shoes!)
Open the doors and use the yard! Grill or cook over a camp fire outside. I, personally, have plans to screen the porch in to keep the bugs away.
Light up your entry way away from the door! Put Christmas lights on the far side of the porch to light the porch and keep the bugs away from the door and the entry of your home. This way you don't have to worry about people coming and going because there's not a swarm of mosquitoes hovering in the doorway waiting to come in with them.
Use disposable plates and dishes! Enough said. This is helpful for obvious reasons.
Let your guests help if they offer! Not only does this help you, but it makes them feel useful and I have learned that it helps conversation to flow more smoothly. People are more apt to open up when they're working and the eye to eye contact isn't a factor.
Use your crock pot(s) or roaster! I have baked up to 30 potatoes in my roaster at a time. I have a kid or two wash and prep the potatoes and throw them in the roaster. They bake in the roaster as they would in the oven (except that they are on my counter or in the floor of my dinning room which frees up my oven for other things). When they are all done, you can turn the heat down and keep them warm until it's time to serve. I usually allow people to serve themselves right out of the roaster.
Sandwiches!! We serve sandwiches more often than not on Sunday nights after church. I get 3 different meats and 3 different cheeses, some loaves of bread, big lettuce leaves (for wraps) and some condiments. Ask guests to bring sides and other sandwich toppings. Set it all out with some paper plates and let everyone serve themselves.
Kid/Budget friendly tip - set some peanut butter and jelly out for the kids. Most kids prefer it, and it's cheaper!! Win. Win. You'll be shocked at the amount of adults that eat it, too.
Save yourself a mess...or don't. :) Ask visitors to remove their shoes, or just go with it.... Sometimes the shoes spread to and fro throughout the whole house is worse than whatever dirt they might be bring in....just my opinion.
Plastic Cups or Not?? Use plastic/disposable cups to cut back on washing dishes or, serve chilled bottled water and cans of soda to cut back on plastic cups left out everywhere (and the additional cost of cups). If you decide to use plastic cups, try to get as many different color as you can this way kids especially can remember what color they had to help cut back on the confusion, and don't forget a sharpie for names!
Serving made simple: put things out assembly line style and allow people to serve themselves. You may want to ask parents to help serve their children or do it yourself. Most parents will automatically help their children, but I have learned this is not always the case.
Simplify!! do what works for you and your family or the specific guests you're having at that moment! Change things up here and there to see if something else works for you and depending on the specific company and their needs.
Keep an extra fridge in the garage for company. We were gifted an older fridge someone no longer wanted and we keep it in the garage loaded with all the sodas and things the kids understand are off limits.
Ask for help with the food...especially the drinks or sides and desserts (or whatever you don't like to make yourself). ;)
Keep the kids busy: Have a game/child safe area ready to keep children busy. Put an older child or teenager in charge of that area for safety reasons. Invite families with children of the same ages so they keep each other occupied. Think safety. Always be aware of who's around the kids and what is going on in that area.
Care for your littles beforehand: feed your children (especially babies) before the company arrives and teach your older children to wait till everyone has gone through the line once before they get their plate.