Practicing Hospitality with Kids

I have been blessed to observe my little girl lately and the delight she finds in showing hospitality to others! She loves offering popcorn or water to those who come through our day. She is catching the vision. Even at such a young age, we can encourage a heart of love and service towards others by practically including them in demonstrations of hospitality. They are a blessed addition to our hospitality. But it can often be challenging to prepare for guests when we have little ones demanding our attention. How can we practically include them? How can we make hospitality preparations simple with little ones in tow?

1. Include them in the inviting process. Who are they interested in inviting over? Could they hand out the invitations? Incorporating children in this way really helps to strengthen their social skills. Adopt a “grandpa” or “grandma” from your church or neighborhood and discuss how you could do something special with or for that person.

2. Include them in praying for your guests. In preparation for your guests, try to spend a few moments together praying the Lord’s blessing over your home and guests. Let them pray their own special prayer on your guests behalf.

3. Include them in your preparations. Prepare simple dishes that the kiddos can help assemble. Whether it be simple dicing of vegetables, stirring together a batter, or setting the table. This gives them a sense of ownership over the serving and heightens their anticipation of the evening.

I heard a story of a a godly older woman who shared that as she got ready for guests to arrive, her little ones would be working hard alongside her in the kitchen doing their own project: 1) making place cards w/ a Bible verse on it, 2) drawing pictures for the ones that would be coming, and 3) practicing a song or play for the guests. Together they participated in building the excitement for the evening.

4. Let them serve. Be willing to practice training them how to carry plates, cups, and other utensils to set the table at home in every day life in preparation for also serving your guests. Children as young as three can carefully serve dessert on plates, or offer beverages to a guest.

5. Keep the kids food simple. Remember that little ones are often pretty picky. Why not keep it less stressful by preparing something easy that they will be sure to enjoy – macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, hot dogs, etc. This way neither you nor your guests isn’t stressing out half of the evening trying to get the kids to eat their food.

6. Keep the menu simple. While we will be sharing some easy menu ideas later, I wanted to mention that keeping our hospitality menus simple has been essential! I stick to one pot meals, or a main dish and salad, or crockpot dinners. No five course dinners in this season of life. Any meal will be a blessing to your guest (remember they just appreciate the break from their own dinner preparations!), even if it is a simple pot of chili and cornbread. It’s hearty and delicious! Or simply, stick to dessert. This keeps your stress levels down, makes clean up easy, and hospitality doable with kids.

7. Consider feeding your kids in advance. I know when we host our weekly Community Group dinner, it doesn’t start till 6pm. By this time the kids are starving and cranky and constantly under my feet. If I can give them something easy and simple in advance, they will stay occupied while I put the final preparations together.

8. Remove breakables ahead of time, in addition to any loud toys you might have. Before we have company, any push or riding toys are moved to the garage. It just gets too loud with hard wood floors to be able to enjoy our company. The best easy toys for company seem to be a big pile of blocks or legos and a selection of dress-ups. They seem to meet the needs of both boys and girls. To keep the mess down, I specifically put half the toys up and out of the way, thus protecting against a big mess.

What inspiring ideas can you pass along for practicing hospitality with kiddos?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

19 Responses to Practicing Hospitality with Kids

  1. Melanie June 30, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Lindsay, your posts have been very inspiring! I grew up practicing hospitality, but when I got married and started having kids, I shied away from it more. I’ve had some bad experiences. For example, what do you when the family’s kids start exploring your whole house?? Not only disrupting privacy, but also playing with your kids toys and breaking them? All this was more common with a one story house. I’ve even had kids insist on watching a movie or tv in the same room we were entertaining and then go off and play, not even watching it and when it was turned off, they threw a fit that it was off! Maybe I just need to get over that, but still….

    • Lindsay June 30, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      We have certainly had issues with guests and toys and such. I just try to put up any toys that are extra special or too loud and we block off the stairs (with a baby gate), so they are limited to the area they can roam. You could try locking doors or using a gate on rooms you don’t want them to enter. And as much as possible we encourage outside play in the back yard Don’t be afraid to make your ideals known to the kids’ parents. Ultimately it is their responsibility to manage their children. Try not to take them all on! ;) You do need to put your foot down as needed so these children don’t rule your roast. Let your husband take charge if necessary.

  2. Jordan April 15, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    Aww, what sweet ideas. :)

  3. Joy April 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm #


    Maybe you could do a post on how to help husbands to be more comfortable with hospitality. He won’t allow it unless everything is perfect, and with three little ones and another on the way, perfect is not really possible. Also, I think many husbands (not just mine) are wiped out from the stresses of work and providing, and are not really in the mood to bless others with hospitality.

  4. Amy April 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Lindsay, this is a great post! I am struggling to be more hospitable and less of a perfectionist, and these tips are all great. I am so happy to have found your blog today! (I came over from Inspired to Action.) Since I was public schooled but now homeschool my four children, I am always interested in hearing from homeschool graduates and seeing how their lives have turned out. I look forward to the inspiration I know I’ll be getting from your words. Thanks for taking the time to encourage us all in this high calling!

  5. Dana April 10, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    I love this post! My DD is 2 1/2 and she loves to play hostess. We just had company and she made smoothie popsicles for her friend. And while we were preparing them (her dumping ingredients into the blender). I was able to talk about why we serve others and how we show love to them. Her friend loved them and it made her so happy! I love the ideas on how to foster this kind and loving part of her.

  6. Kristen Lehmann April 10, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    My daughter enjoys gathering garden flowers along with mint or other fragrant plants. She creates a lovely bouquet for the table using a decorated glass jar or simple vase. At the end of the visit we send bouquet home with guests– a bit of our home going with them.

    Hospitality did not come easily to me- I wrote about the value of taking a year and getting more comfortable with opening our home on a regular basis. Feel free to visit “Path in the Woods” at

  7. Carrie April 9, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Feeding my children snacks before having a late dinner (or lunch) with friends is a lifesaver. The hard part for me is actually remembering to pack snacks when we are going to be out and about. :-)

  8. Nina Nelson April 9, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    Good, practical advice as usual, thank you. I have felt a strong pull toward hospitality lately and I’m excited to invite more people into my home. I love watching my oldest – our 6-year-old son – offering more coffee or seconds. I’m looking forward to the rest of the hospitality series!

  9. Abby April 8, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    We have invited many friends over, though our house is small and far from house beautiful. Hospitality is putting others first, connecting with others in a way that can’t be reproduced at a restaurant or other type of venue. When we open our homes we let others in, home is where life should happen and children are apart of our lives. Having guests to our home has offered more,”teachable moments” in manners and “socialization” in a relaxed comfortable and natural way. I love having people over and so do my children.

  10. Sarah M April 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    absolutely fan-tastic. I LOVE it when people are spreading the word of including little kids in the
    joy that is taking care of a home, of others, and inviting them to participate in our own activities.
    Your ideas are so practical and I’m so glad you wrote this! I am also enjoying my 3 year old become more like this as well, and it is so pleasing to watch.
    Thank you for all the encouragement you give!!
    Sarah M

  11. Jaime April 8, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Loved this post!

    One thing we have done in the past is kept a small child-sized pitcher for our son to pour drinks himself – he would pour for the other kids, just a couple of inches into each cup, and got such a kick out of it!


  12. Lacey Wilcox April 8, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Taking notes NOW!! Baby Girl might be only 7 months, but Mommy’s never too old to learn!!
    Along with having the kids help set up, let them color placemats–just remind them that there is the possibility someone will spill something on them! When I taught first grade, my babies LOVED to do this!!
    Another idea is allowing them to help pick the menu–that way you know it’s kid friendly!!
    Thanks for another great post–I love the theme of hospitality!!

  13. Tara April 8, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Great tips! We host house church each week, and I LOVE the tip about feeding the kids beforehand. That will make my life so much easier, and i don’t know why I haven’t thought of it yet!

    We also put away loud/age inappropriate toys when having kids over. We have some extra baby toys that the kids help me put out in preparation for the littler ones that come over.

  14. Maura April 8, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Excellent tips! I like the idea of feeding the kids ahead of time so that you can converse with your guests trying to get the kids to eat their food all evening.

    Simple menus are definitely the way to go! Serving guests a great lasagna and salad has just as much meaning as serving up steak and lobster – its the thought that counts. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have company for dinner.

    For those of you stressed by the thought of preparing appetizers, a plate of fresh veggies and homemade ranch dressing does the trick. Simple, quick, and healthy.

  15. Daniella April 8, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Thank you for this post, Lindsay! I especially love the practical idea of putting away the push toys, loud toys, and keeping just a few options out for the kids- OH what a great idea, one I never would have thought of (but the problem, yes, I have definitely suffered from as my 20 month old daughter seems to find all of the loud toys when there is company over!!)
    Thank you for all of these ideas. I love hospitality and serving people, but it has definitely been a challenge to find new ways to do it now that I’m a Mom. =)

  16. Joyfulhomemaker April 8, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    From an early age I have trained our children to set the table and clear the table and straight away get into cleaning up..wiping the table down ,washing and drying the dishes etc..all these daily habits 3 times a day ,day after have been the foundational training for when we have visitors and I can say with great pride that my children now aged 8,9 10,13,14,and 25 get so many comments about how they care for our quests,they take there plates when there meal is finished ,they make cups of tea for them,when we are asked to peoples place for dinner the children get right in and help with the BBQing of the food and dish up desserts ,clear up etc…they make me really proud of them and they are the talk of the town….5 of my 6 children have intellectual disablities (Fragile X Syndrome and Autism) so poeple are even more astounded.

  17. April April 8, 2011 at 2:52 am #

    Thank you again, Lindsay, for the practical wisdom. With an 18 month old and #2 on the way, it’s so daunting to think about having people in our home, especially people without children of their own who may not understand our lifestyle (which is, by necessity and choice, a bit crazy). It’s great to think about one or two years down the road when my son can be a real servant to our guests as well, but in the meantime it’s also healthy to remember that ANYTHING that is a gift or sacrifice for our family can be a blessing to our guests, even if it’s welcoming them into a bit of a mess and serving them leftover cookies!

    • Maura April 8, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      @ April ~ Don’t be afraid to have folks over for dinner just because you have kids and they don’t. In my experience, people without children are often excited to play with kids at your home because they don’t have any. While the company is interacting with the babies, your can set the table and do final preparations.

      If you are worried your home is a mess, just clean up the main room where you will be entertaining them and your kitchen. You don’t need to worry about dusting your bedrooms, cleaning all the blinds, organizing your closet, cleaning your oven, and scrubbing your shower, as chances are your guests won’t even see those things.