10 Tips for Hosting When You Have a Small Home—and a Big Heart

Photo by  Grovemade  on  Unsplash

Photo by Grovemade on Unsplash

In many cities, it seems that rent and home prices keep increasing every year, while the room for hosting gets ever smaller. Fear not! What follows are some hospitality suggestions for small spaces.

Meet Dan and Linette. They moved to San Diego ­a little over a year ago and joined our church even more recently. Before Linette and Dan had even become members of the church, Linette signed up to bring a meal to me after my fifth child was born. The night she signed up to do so didn’t wind up being an evening when we were actually going to need a meal. I reached out to tell her that she was “off the hook.” Instead of saying, “OK, great!” she responded, “Well, we’d really like to get to know you. Would you be up for coming to our place for dinner one evening?” Knowing they lived in an apartment, I wasn’t sure if she meant this for just my new baby, my husband, and me, or if she was extending this invitation to all seven of us. Turns out, she wanted to serve (and get to know) my whole tribe. The date was selected and we, in turn, showed up.

By that point, I already knew that I was going to be on a strict dairy and soy-free diet for my allergic newborn. I was a bit embarrassed about having to be fussy about what I ate, but I really had no choice, as baby is the one who winds up suffering. It turns out that Dan has to stay away from gluten at all costs, and thus, a delicious Mexican-themed meal was born, where everyone had lots of toppings they could choose from and consume, with only a few things allergic folks needed to avoid.

Being invited into Dan and Linette’s home was nothing less than a balm to my soul. They were brand new friends who were welcoming us into their space. I got to peruse Linette’s bookshelves and finally open up cookbooks of which I had only seen the covers. (Turns out, Linette has a small library of cookbooks!)

After dinner, the women and children convened on the soft rug in the family room, while the men sat around the table. Despite the fact there were nine of us there, we didn’t need much space. We gathered where it made sense and were all absolutely filled and fed that night.

Linette is now, quite literally, my daughters’ favorite person on the planet. They ask me questions like, “Mom, can you call me ‘Chica’ like Miss Linette does?” My twelve-year-old has described this gal as her would-be best friend, if they were the same age. It’s beautiful. All of this love began with Linette’s heart for hospitality in offering to bring a meal to a mom with a newborn and persisting in having us in her home when I didn’t think I needed the help. I’m so glad she asked and that I said yes.

Here are ten tips from Linette on maximizing time and space when hosting:

  1. Test-run your place and menu on family or close friends.

  2. Don’t host to impress; host to be a comfortable place for others.

  3. Don’t feel pressured to make your house perfect.

  4. Host to bless others with something you can give.

  5. Serving the food “buffet style” frees up table space.

  6. Don’t be afraid to use paper plates. It’s hard to hide dirty dishes in a small kitchen. Disposable pieces are super handy for quick clean-up. Beautiful options are now readily available for all occasions.

  7. Don’t be afraid to rearrange the furniture.

  8. Consider floor pillows to increase seating possibilities.

  9. Consider purchasing furniture pieces that will aid in maximizing space.

  10. Above all, remember the goal: to love others.

When you welcome people into your home, your company isn’t looking for a way to inspect your place. Instead, recognize that your invitation is an opportunity to lovingly share a bit of who you are and what you have with your guests.

Related Article:


The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield

Susanna Hodge blogs at The Hodge Lodge at www.thehodgelodge.com. This article is adapted from the original version, Big Heart, Small Home.

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