One of our most beautiful callings in life is to show hospitality, no matter our age or season of life.
And summertime is a particularly wonderful season for showing hospitality because there are endless ways to be creative in welcoming others graciously and earnestly. Picnic in the park, anyone?
Here are a few ideas for sharing hospitality in the warm summer months.
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1. Picnic in the Park
Spread a picnic for your guests in a park. Make it festive by using colorful tablecloths, decorative serving pitchers and platters, and cloth napkins.
For adults, use real silverware and decorative china plates found cheap at a thrift store. Have simple games available for kids, like jump ropes and soft frisbees. If there's an outdoor concert-in-the-park being offered in your area, use it as the excuse to bring everyone together to enjoy an evening of both good food and music.
A friend of mine in New York City says this is her preferred way of showing hospitality to others, merely because due to living in a dense, urban setting, she has a small, cramped apartment, which makes hosting a group of people difficult. By spreading a picnic in the park, her guests can come and linger and feel comfortable.
2. Host an Ice Cream Social
A definite favorite no matter who you're inviting! Set out homemade ice creams (don't forget at least one dairy-free version), toppings, and the makings of banana splits. Use colorful bowls, spoons, and napkins to make it extra festive.
By the way, Marillyn over at Just Making Noise has written THE definitive e-book on real food ice cream, Just Making Ice Cream, which has more than 70 recipes, as well as gobs of tips and tricks, so if you're thinking of hosting an ice cream social (or just want to enjoy a summertime treat!) definitely take a look. It sells for a suggested donation of $12 and it's worth every penny (more, actually).
3. Host a backyard movie
If you have an LCD projector, a light-colored bed sheet, and a few speakers, you can host a movie in your backyard. Pop some popcorn, set out a basket of blankets for people as they get cold, and enjoy your favorite film.
If you don't have the necessary equipment, it is possible to rent supplies in some areas, so search for “backyard movie” to see if that's an option where you live. Also check out BackyardTheater.com for some great ideas of how to set up your “theater.”
4. Hold a backyard concert
Whether it's bluegrass, jazz, or chamber music, music has a way of drawing people together, so hire local musicians or gather student musicians to hold a concert. Put up tiki lights, set up chairs for the audience, and print little programs to make the evening feel special. After the concert, serve light refreshments. Be sure to offer refreshment to the musicians as well, as this is an opportunity to show hospitality and nurture community with them too.
Alternatively, if there are lots of children and young adults in your neighborhood who are learning musical instruments, host a recital featuring all young musicians. This not only brings together all the families of the musicians, but it gives the budding musicians performance practice, which is an encouraging gift to them as well.
5. Put a picnic table in your front yard
Some close friends of ours built a large picnic table and put it in their front yard. Every night around 6:00, there's a standing invitation to their neighbors to come eat dinner at the table. And each night there are at least two or three families who show up, bringing whatever they've made for dinner that night. It's a wonderful way to foster community and show hospitality right where you live.
You can make the “standing invitation” good for only once or twice a week as well, if that works better for you.
6. Host a mother-daughter tea party
Invite other mothers and their daughters to a tea party in your backyard. Ask everyone to wear their “Sunday best” and serve finger foods, such as cucumber sandwiches and tea biscuits.
If you want to make it more intentional than just enjoying time together, have a time where each mother reflects on what she appreciates about her daughter and then likewise each daughter can honor her mother. Make the occasion fun by having everyone bring a favorite poem to share or from a favorite work of classical literature.
Prepare small tea-related gift bags ahead of time to send home with your guests, perhaps with these homemade teabags and with a blessing written on each tag.
And of course, these are ideas just meant to get you started! Does this spark any ideas for YOU? If they do, please share them in the comments!
Now it's your turn: What are your favorite summertime memories with other people?