One common Reason We Fail to be Hospitable is that it costs money. Any time you have a big dinner and add all the trimmings, the dollar signs quickly add up. A couple of weeks ago for Easter, we had guests and it was more of a dinner party. I enjoyed doing that for a special holiday. Normally, though, I can’t afford to do that. In our current life situation, I have a tight grocery budget and I have learned that I need to find ways to still extend hospitality without going over budget.
1. Coffee and Dessert
You could do this in the evening with a couple or family, but I usually do this by inviting another mom over on a week day morning. I have someone over almost weekly and this has been a great way to get to know other moms. I say moms, simply because that is usually who is available at that time, but I have also been able to have other non-moms over that have a flexible work schedule.
This is different, in my opinion, from a play date. Whether they have kids or not, the focus is not on the kids but on us getting an opportunity to visit. We visit over coffee and cookies (or sometimes just coffee!), and our children play together. I have been able to have better conversations this way than when I join a large playgroup where there are several moms and many kids. Not that those are bad, but you cannot really have as good a conversation in that kind of chaos, so I do like to regularly have either a friend or someone I want to get to know in a more intimate setting.
We have done really well having families over for Saturday brunch. It may not be the normal time to have company, but we have found it to work quite well. If there are children involved you don’t have to worry about late bedtimes or missed naps which makes it especially nice. On the frugal side, it is quite inexpensive compared to most meals. Eggs, bread or coffee cake, and maybe a tiny bit of meat in a breakfast casserole make this one of my most frugal ways to enjoy company. If finances are tight (I get that!), I would encourage you to try a brunch menu. Throw in some fruit (or have your guests bring the fruit), and you have a nice menu.
As a side note, it is also one of the least stressful meals to put on. Most of the work can be done the night before, making the last minute putting it on the table a breeze. Try it sometime!
3. Family Dinner
Sometimes it is all in the wording. When you invite guests by telling them that you are having homemade pizza on Friday night, and ask them if they want to join you, it takes the pressure off. You are not preparing a meal just for guests, you are inviting them to come to your family meal. In the winter when I make a large pot of soup, it does not cost me much extra to have a family join us.
Avoiding the dinner party idea and simply inviting someone to join you at your table with your family keeps the cost minimal.
Don’t forget to invite singles, college students, couples with no family in town, and new-to-the-area people. You will find that most people will be so appreciative of the invitation that they will not even notice that it is not a “dinner party.” And don’t forget what true Hospitality Is. Embrace getting to know and sharing community with people.
What ways have found to show hospitality while sticking to a budget?