Hospitality Journal

“Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved.  It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment. Part of that, then, is honoring the way God made our bodies, and feeding them in ways they need to be fed.” – Shauna Niequest in Bread and Wine

“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.”  Shauna Niequest in Bittersweet

One of my biggest desires for our house is that it will be used to bless others. I’m not sure what that will look like over the years, but I long for it to be a place for people to gather, a safe haven to meet needs and bring comfort and community. One of my favorite books (and reinforcer of this desire) is Shauna Niequest’s Bread and Wine (quoted above). She paints a gorgeous picture of what life looks like when you open your messy home and invite people in.

As I’ve mentioned before, hosting doesn’t come naturally to me. The reason is easy, really: I’m afraid people won’t have a good time or things won’t be perfect or people won’t like me. Again, why I think that is silly, but there it is.

Most of that, I just need to get over. But some of these fears can be eliminated by preparing and planning head.

The first thing I do when I start to plan a party is think about what worked and didn’t work from previous events. But a lot of times the details are a little foggy. That birthday dinner — did that pasta dish have shrimp or chicken in it? Where was that recipe from? Do people respond better via email or Evite? Who did I originally invite and how many people came? 

I decided to create a hospitality journal, to help remember these events and make notes for future reference on what worked and what didn’t.

Here’s a little preview into what this journal looks like:

Hospitality journal - to keep a record of all events, parties and people staying over to reference later

First, find a journal that you can devote to record any time that you had people over, hosted a party, or had overnight guests over. Some examples of what to record, include:

Parties / Dinners:

  • Date of party
  • Invitation format – ex: word of mouth, evite, mailed invitation)
  • Menu – what the host cooked/prepared, what guests brought
  • Music – what playlist or station?
  • Who is invited and how many came
  • Decorations
  • Summary of party, highlights
  • What would you do differently?

Overnight guests:

  • Date
  • Who stayed over
  • Occasion / reason
  • Meals at home (ex: what did you keep in your fridge for snacks, breakfast, etc.)
  • Summary of overnight stay, etc.
  • What would you do differently?

Here’s an example from a dinner party I had the other day:

Excerpt from hospitality journal

Maybe it’s a little silly to have record of only parties and hosting, but I think having a guide to reference later should be VERY helpful for future events. (Also, it’s not any stranger than having a journal full of dinners.:)

Do you host a lot of events at your house? Do you have any tips for preparing for parties? 



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  • Janelle B.

    First comment on your blog (I just found it) and find this idea delightful. DH and I do not do a lot of entertaining, but we typically host guests (runner friends) for a week or two at the same time each year and have a larger, blow-out type dinner event. I’ve learned a lot in the last two years of doing this, including vegetarian and vegan cooking and what to ask about food allergies, etc. It would be good if I somehow documented this knowledge instead of reinventing the wheel and asking the same questions each year.

  • http://www.anniewiltse.com/ anniewiltse

    This is such a good idea, Ginna! I love it!

  • http://italiagal.blogspot.com/ Michelle

    I love to entertain, usually I host a meal/cocktail and appetizer/snack for a guest or two. A strict budget tends to hold me back a bit, both in size and frequency of event. I have overcooked chicken before and I think I apologized but really laughed it off, not making a huge deal out of it. Despite that faux pas, that particular dinner party of four total went well; everyone had fun. Have you read “Lessons from Madame Chic” by Jennifer L. Scott? The entertaining chapter emphasizes confidence. Fake it until you make it. I also think one should simply jump in and try to entertain as much as desired. Confidence and practice are both key. Oh, and my mom finds it important to know when to start cooking each dish so everything goes to the table at the correct temperature. That probably comes from practice too.

    In the attempt of improving anything, I really like the idea of writing it all down and then reviewing it. You can say you remember it, but a written record truly makes you see the little things and face facts. Furthermore, it shows progress. Perhaps when I can afford to host larger events, I may start one myself…

  • Dorothy Clement

    Both of your grandmothers did something similar to this: Gigi had index cards with the menu and the people who she invited and Memo had a spiral-bound book with the menu and the list of people she invited. I think summarizing what went wrong and right helps for “next” time! I do this especially for big events like Thanksgiving ( did I tell you we will miss you this year!).

  • http://myprettypennies.com ginna

    Oh my gosh I didn’t know they did this! Do you have copies of these books? Who knew I was channeling Gigi and Memo with this. :)

    PS – YES I’M SO SAD TOO! :(:(:(

  • Michelle’s Finance Journal

    I do write things down since I like to plan things ahead, but I don’t keep any of it. Maybe it is a good idea to keep them together to fine tune things and find what works. I wish I don’t live in a small apartment so I can actually invite more than 4 people. But I have to work with what I have now. http://michellesfinancejournal.wordpress.com/

  • http://myprettypennies.com ginna

    That is awesome you are able to host your friends for a week or two! I have yet to have house guests stay that long. :) Thanks for your comment, and reading!

  • http://myprettypennies.com ginna

    I am with you on the budget thing. It can get really expensive to host! I haven’t read that book, but definitely resonate on the fake it until you make it. Reminds me of Gretchen Rubin’s “act the way you want to feel” mantra. Thanks for your comment! :)

  • http://myprettypennies.com ginna

    Yep, totally understand the limited space. I try to think of it from the guest’s perspective, and I NEVER think any of the critical things that go through my head about other’s parties. I’m just glad I was invited!

  • Dorothy Clement

    I don’t know if Betsey might have Memo’s notebooks and not sure about Gigi’s. But I will hang onto mine for future perusing.

  • Susan Moore Thomas

    These are great ideas, Ginna. It’s so encouraging that you do this. It helps me to remember that I am not ‘entertaining’ but providing a respite and hospitality to a fellow traveler.