Guest Post by Melissa Jackson
I’d rather make a memory than make room for more stuff.
As I was contemplating what to buy my boss for Christmas and his soon-to-follow birthday, his wife’s words came back to me. Inspired, I decided that instead of spending time and money to find two gifts he didn’t need (or probably want), I would issue a dinner invitation. And just like that, an annual tradition was born.
Any time we open our homes, we are sharing a gift of hospitality; however, hospitality in lieu of a gift should be made special. As the tradition of gifting my boss and his wife with a dinner in our home has continued over the years, I’ve learned a few things about offering hospitality as a unique gift.
Be Intentional. Each November my boss’ wife and I consult our calendars. We select a night early in the holiday season so that none of us feel burdened by an over-crowded calendar and we can truly enjoy each other’s company.
Make it Special. I want my guests to know that I put some thought and effort into the meal. My boss is a chocolate lover so dessert is always chocolate, but the main course varies each year. I usually pick something more elegant than weeknight fare but not too fussy (think of an amped-up Sunday dinner). I try to avoid convenience foods, but not everything is made from scratch.
Make it Welcoming. I create a welcoming atmosphere with a pretty tablecloth, our china, and soft classical music. The house is already decorated for Christmas so I don’t feel I need to do anything more.
Keep it Simple. Even though I want the meal to be special, I don’t go over the top to prove my culinary skills. I also don’t work so hard that I don’t enjoy the meal itself. I don’t mind a little chopping, but I steer clear of anything that requires a great deal of prep work. If I’m attempting an ambitious main dish, I serve simple sides. Oftentimes, I choose a warm dessert that can cook while we’re eating. This simple trick saves time and makes the house smell amazing!
Think Ahead. I allow time for kitchen clean-up while dinner is cooking. I start with an empty dishwasher so I can load it as I cook and as we clear the table. Then I can relax while we visit after the meal.
Offering an evening of hospitality as a gift does not have to be overwhelming; it can be quite enjoyable. In fact, I think I look forward to our annual dinner as much as my guests. If you have difficulty finding that perfect gift for someone on your list, consider inviting them into your home. Your efforts to prepare an excellent meal for your guests are far more valuable–and memorable–than any item you will ever purchase.
This month, I’ve asked each guest contributor to share her go-to, no-fail recipe with us! Today, Melissa shares her delicious Chicken Florentine recipe!
Melissa is a working mother in Virginia, living a quiet and simple life (1 Thess. 4:11-12) with her husband and teenage daughter. She enjoys reading, writing, coffee, football, and bonfires. She is passionate about discipling teenage girls. She blogs at One Quiet Life and Out of the Ordinary.