Steps Toward Hospitality: Creating a Hospitality Journal

I get incredibly intimdated and self-conscious when it comes to cooking for a crowd—even when that's only another couple. It's a bit like trying to figure out what to wear on school picture day: You stand in front of the pantry (or your closet) and the myriad of possibilities stare back at you. Overwhelmed, you head off to your collection of cookbooks (or fashion magazines) and decide maybe you'll get some inspiration in those pages. After flipping for awhile, you feel no less informed to make the decision that you imagine everyone will remember, critique and judge you on for years to come.

I know it's ridiculous, especially when you take into account who makes up the "crowd" I'm talking about: Folks who are so gracious that they'd be content with bread and butter and call it gourmet! I suppose it's because I'm still relatively new at this whole "cooking" thing and still finding my confidence in the kitchen. Throw some strangers into the mix, and any confidence that I've mustered up over the past year melts into a puddle and washes away.

Yet, for the past couple of years, I've grown aware that this is a hindrance when it comes to opportunities to serve or reach out to others. There have been multiple times when this insecurity of mine has caused me to clam up when I could have invited someone over, and stayed silent when I could have volunteered to help someone else in need. Not because my heart wasn't there, but because fear got the best of me. "What will I make? What do they like? Nothing will be good enough!" The questions paralyzed me from action.

And as one of my favorite bloggers, Kristen of The Frugal Girl, once said, "When I’m overcome by the 'I’m not good enough at this and why am I even bothering!' blues, here’s what I remind myself of: It doesn’t have to be perfect to bless other people. It’s so easy to give up if we can’t do something perfectly, but odds are, we’ll manage to bless more people by doing something imperfectly than by doing nothing at all."

So, in an effort to push my insecurities aside, I've started working on a hospitality journal. I'm pulling together recipes and small gift ideas that are ripe for serving others. Meals that serve a crowd. One-dish wonders that transport easily. Potluck-ready side dishes and casseroles. Pantry items to keep on hand for whipping up go-to spreads for surprise guests. I know that when I'm prepared, I'm less stressed and overwhelmed. So I'm hoping that having a guide to go by, I'll be more likely to step in and step up in the future.

I'll share some more about my journal when it's more complete, but I'm still in the early stages of pulling together recipes and ideas. If you have any to pass along or favorites you turn to, I would love to have them! Obviously, I can use all the help I can get!

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  1. I love this idea! I've kept a file on my computer with recipes I want to try and party decorating ideas but putting it all together in a notebook is an even better idea!

  2. Carmen, I struggle so much with the same thing! I love to cook but my insecurity of serving it to anyone other than my husband keeps me from being hospitable like I want to be. So I'll have to try this tactic out. And by the way, we loved the salmon burgers y'all made for us on the spur of the moment so much that we've had them twice since!

  3. I love to cook and love to cook for other people. I have been debating what recipe to send you but I think I'd rather send you this piece of advice. Sometimes the simpler the meal, the more well received. My Mom, who is an excellent cook, always gets rave reviews from her spaghetti and meatballs which is a very simple dish to prepare. Stick with the simple meals and somehow they become so much better than they seem to our minds. My Mother-in-law will make macaroni and cheese with a side of vegetable for a nice luncheon kind of meal. It is always well received. My other tip is to learn to love your crockpot.

  4. @ Kaitlin - Oh, that's great to hear! I'll definitely have to add our salmon burgers to the notebook then, too!

    @ Renee - Thank you so much for that encouragement. I do think I tend to want to find something that will have that "wow"/Martha Stewart factor but that only serves to make it more difficult, not easier! (Or even more tasty!) I think this is a great piece of advice! And if you do want to pass any recipes on, I'd still love them! Thanks so much :)

  5. I've been reading a book on hospitality from a Christian perspective and it too mentions a hospitality notebook. It is a great book.

  6. @ Phoebe - Really? That sounds great! What's the book called? I'd be interested in reading it.

  7. Practicing Hospitality The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock.

  8. I love this post- such a wonderful idea. Do you have a good chili recipe? That's a really simple, delicious staple that you can serve with potatoes, corn bread, with sour cream and crusty rolls...the list goes on. I have a nice mild recipe that everyone seems to love, if you'd like it I'd be happy to send it over. And I have to admit that I dug out an old notebook today so that I could start something similar. :)

  9. @ Phoebe - Thanks so much! I'm going to go check that out on Amazon right now!

    @ Emma - I'd love your chili recipe. I can always use a good, tried-and-true suggestion :)

  10. This is a great idea! I'm going to begin my hospitality notebook this weekend.
    I am a new follower & am SO glad I found your blog! I've already bookmarked it since there are already many posts I want to go back & re-read! :)

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  11. This is an excellent idea! I love the way you think! I've been trying to form a similar concept, but everything seemed so disjointed. This is another one I need to put on my to-do list.

  12. Hi! I've just found your site & I know I'm going to like it! Wish I had done what you are doing eons ago! I've been married for going on 44yrs & practicing the gift of hospitality that long. At one point, my husband was a Course Instructor @an AF Base in AL. Whenever he had a new class, we would host a "kick off" dinner for the instructors for his class...who came from far & wide. I'd need to host a complete dinner for about 25 people. Then there was a time when I hosted a large group of men(about 30) for breakfast before their Promise Keepers event(by then we lived in Columbus, Oh)...after I'd held one of our Monthly Men's Prayer Breakfasts for the men of our church...which we have done now literally for...30yrs! The book that introduced me to hospitality was, "Open Heart, Open Home" by Karen Burton Mains. I loved that she stressed that it is done as unto the Lord! I also think it is a spiritual gift that has almost gone dormant in our too hurried, too busy society. And I find there is always more to learn. I'm excited to have discovered your blog. Nice to know I am not alone & will love trying some new recipes! My favorite verse in regards to this is from Proverbs which says "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."


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