Guest post from Christine of Grace Covers Me
As a church planting pastor’s wife, I have countless opportunities to invite people over for dinner, host parties and showers, and give gifts. Unfortunately, because we are a church plant without a building or a large budget, my husband and I must primarily use our personal budget to carry out our ministry.
I have learned, first and foremost, that the goal in hospitality is not perfection or complexity; it is inviting people into relationships and into our heart. Our small budget has also forced me to get creative with how I practice hospitality.
Here’s what I do:
1. Perfect a Signature Dish
At the beginning of our church plant, we invited most church guests into our home for a meal. I developed a menu that I used for every guest that I felt confident in making and that was easy and inexpensive.
When items from my signature dishes went on sale, I bought in bulk. Sometimes, instead of inviting people for dinner, we’ve invited them for dessert and coffee, which is much cheaper and less labor-intensive.
2. Create a Bridal Gift and a Baby Gift
Because I get invited to most showers, I made a cookbook of all my favorite recipes on my computer that I can give to brides. After printing off the recipes, I put them into protective sleeves in a notebook that I make personal with scrapbook paper.
For babies, I use Gymboree reward bucks to buy clothes when they’re on sale or I buy diapers in bulk to give as gifts.
3. Keep Staples on Hand
For parties or larger dinners, I bought glasses, place mats, pitchers, and white serving dishes at the dollar store. I also keep paper products (including kid’s cups) on hand, as well as staples such as coffee, sweeteners, lemonade mix, and popcorn.
4. Decorate on a Dime
When hosting showers or Christmas parties, I decorate tables with things in my yard (pine cones, berries) or décor in my house (candles, wreaths, trays). I also bought inexpensive fabric and sewed tablecloths that I use over and over again.
5. Maintain a Gift Closet
Anytime I see clearance sales on gifts or cards, I snatch them up and put them in my gift closet. Then, when I need something, I can shop my own closet.
6. Make it a Group Effort
Whenever possible, I ask people to share the load. Our community group folks take turn bringing snacks, we often have potluck dinners, or we accept a dinner guest’s offers to bring a side or dessert.
7. Keep it Simple
Simplicity is the most important thing to remember when practicing hospitality on a budget.
Why meet a friend for lunch when you can meet for coffee or, better yet, have her over for coffee at your house? Why buy a cake for a shower when you can make a lovely one yourself?
Why freak out about a complex dinner menu when hosting friends? Simple works, and it enables you to concentrate on guests rather than worry about your home or the food.
Hospitality doesn’t depend on money. It depends on relationship. With a little creativity and a lot of simplicity, we can all practice it well.
Christine Hoover is a church planter’s wife and mom to three boys. She is the author of the forthcoming book, The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart (Moody, February 2013), and she enjoys helping other ministry wives embrace God’s calling on their lives through her blog, Grace Covers Me.