My daughter invites a friend for a sleepover, and I take a moment to remind her what it means to be a great host. I remember that certain things aren’t intuitive; you have to teach young children how to welcome someone into their home.
First, I remind my daughter to immediately make a guest feel comfortable by helping them settle in. This means letting them know where to place shoes and coats and where the restroom is. Then you can offer a beverage or a snack. You can also ask a guest if they feel too hot or too cold in your home. The goal is his or her comfort.
Second, I teach my daughter that great hosts have a plan. Instead of friends staring at one another not knowing what to do, I encourage my daughter to make a plan of possible activities for them to enjoy together that the guest will particularly love. With a plan of lots of options, a guest can chose something she really enjoys to do.
Third, I tell my daughter that the needs of the guest come first, so it’s a great opportunity to defer to someone else, to take your turn last, and to put your needs aside for a time.
Fourth, I talk about the power of the Special Treat that the guest isn’t expecting. Whether it’s a chocolate cake, a rented movie, a recipe to create together, an outing, or a craft, you can offer little surprises to delight another person.
Finally, I send my daughter upstairs to tidy up. Cleaning the bathroom, organizing the playroom, and picking up clutter means that the guest can enjoy a lovely space that’s clean and fresh smelling.
Why do this? Well, teaching children to host well gives them a lifelong skill of how to bless people with the resources God gives us (our home, our possessions). It also builds empathy as you ask your children to imagine how another person might be feeling.
Hosting other people is something I do every week, if not every day. It’s part of having a home and blessing a community. It’s a great ministry. It’s something I had to learn from others, so today, I’m passing it on to my own children.