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31 Days of Giving: Hospitality on a Budget (Day 10)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story (or a link to your post on your blog) and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Guest post by Meredith from Like Merchant’s Ships

One of our biggest frugal pleasures is sharing our home and food with others.  I can almost always whip up a neighborhood coffee or deliver a meal during hard times.

But how are you supposed to budget for hospitality? Will your own family end up eating rice and beans because you sent too many chicken casseroles elsewhere?

I struggled with this question until I created a hospitality envelope. Using our Dave Ramsey system for cash, hospitality gets its own category. Because I know I have money just for this, I’m no longer afraid to spend it.

When you don’t budget for hospitality, money might always be your excuse for not sharing with others.

How I divide the money varies month to month. $50 could stretch to cover one big party, five $10 meal deliveries, or ten $5 muffin baskets. What we don’t use one month rolls over to the next.

How much you earmark is up to you. What I can tell you is that when I spend in a way that honors our budget, God has a way of multiplying His provision.

One day I raced through the grocery store, putting together a delivery for a sick family.  Deals jumped out at me left and right, from super-clearance gourmet soup to Buy One Get One Free crackers and perfectly ripe pears. I ended up with a beautiful basket worth well beyond its $10 price tag.

Here are some ideas for hospitality on any budget:

  • Meet a new mother at the park. Bring the quilt, a jar of cold lemonade, and a listening ear.
  • Open your home to a group meeting. You provide a clean, welcoming space, hot coffee, and muffins.
  • Take a basket of sandwiches to the funeral home to help a family keep up their strength.
  • Offer to watch your friend’s children during her next doctor visit, serving up encouragement, quick pizza bagels and fruit.
  • Develop a repertoire of tasty but inexpensive meals for others and stock up when those ingredients go on sale.

Hospitality can be rewarding, but never more so than when you practice it with purpose. Here’s to sharing our blessings with those around us!

How do you practice hospitality on a budget?

-originally published in July 2009

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18 Comments

  • Ellen says:

    Oh, I was so hoping that Meredith was blogging again until I saw the original post date on this. =( I used to read her blog all the time. Does anyone know how she and her family are doing?

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you! Although, I was pretty disappointed when I clicked over to LMS to find Meredith is not back to blogging. 🙁 Miss reading her over there! It might be time to do an archive read. 🙂

  • Kathy says:

    I miss her blog too! 🙁

  • Dee Wolters says:

    When we were first married and had so little money, but still really enjoyed having people in our home, I learned to entertain very frugally. One thing I did was to serve breakfast for dinner- usually waffles! That is right, just waffles and coffee, add milk if there were children. It went over well and everyone actually really enjoyed it. It was super cheap, because I would make the waffle batter from scratch, syrup from sugar and maple flavoring. I might serve with apple sauce if I had some.

    The key is to just open your home and share what you have.

  • Jamie says:

    These are some great ideas that I never thought of before. My husband and I also love to have people over but it’s hard when one meal for a larger group can easily run $100. Thanks for the tips!

  • Jen says:

    I was hoping Meredith was back too! I LOVED her blog!

  • Lor Alessi says:

    I have found that having others over for dessert and game night work really well. It is easy to put together and doesn’t cost a bunch like dinner can. If we do dinner, it usually ends up potluck with me providing the chili or soup and drinks (juice and cheap soda and water, all gotten on sale). Still inexpensive and easy to do. I find that people don’t mind helping bring things, they just like to get together. Also, I used to stress about my house being perfect, not so much anymore. I figure if I clean as I usually do then the rest is fine. We like to bring different families together that don’t know each other so game nights work really well and are loads of fun.

  • When I saw the picture, I knew instantly it was a post from Like Merchant Ships! Even though Meredith is not currently blogging, I still browse her blog for inspiration on hospitality on a budget. She has such a way with making the simple look absolutely elegant!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  • Missy June says:

    I like to have a small group of friends over and I’ll provide soup, they bring an appetizer or dessert.

  • Natalie says:

    I really miss Meredith’s blog too. I still check her “food for thought” section weekly, but I (and others, evidently) would love an update from her!!!!

  • Amie B. says:

    I miss Meredith! : (

  • Heather says:

    There are many, many, many of us out here who would LOVE an update or even a few posts once in a while Meredith 🙂 Follow your Tumblr and would be so excited to read a few snippets and inspirations once in a while if you have the time or inclination. Hope all is well in your life!

    Thanks for featuring her Crystal!

  • Geri Reid (NZ) says:

    Hi there,

    Are your books available as a non kindle version? Particularly the Simple Christmas book.

    They look like something I would go back to again and again…I look forward to your response !

    Geraldine
    x

  • Jan says:

    I was wondering if you had any ideas for someone who hosts weekly! We have a bible study one night per week in our home and dinner is expected. We have been ordering pizza and asking everyone to chip in (some chip in a generous amount and one or two chip in nothing). I have been adding an easy dessert to add to the meal. This seems to be the easiest and most cost effective way to feed a crowd without it falling on me to not only cook something, but bear the financial burden. I would love to find an alternative because I am waking up the following mornings with gluten induced headaches and swollen fingers! Normally my family eats organically and we rarely eat out, so when we have our pizza night it hits me hard 🙁 I don’t mind cooking up some food, but I could see everyone just happily eating it. I thought of potluck style, but am not sure everyone would contribute…..

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