Hi Sarah! I'm helping with a ladies' event at church about simple, heartfelt hospitality. We're trying to put together a list of ideas to get people thinking. So do you have any ideas that have worked well for you--could be anything from meal ideas to activities you have for the kids or whatever. I'm sure you have people in often so thought I'd ask you.
Yes, I do - biggest tip is DO NOT STRESS! Stress makes disasters of our best efforts.
Focus on people, not the stuff you serve them. Focussing on the food, temp of the tea, amount of sugar/milk in the tea makes guests wonder what all the fuss is about. You're there to open your heart to people - more than serving them. Talk talk talk, until they follow you into your messy kitchen. If you're at ease, they might be too.
I remember someone hosting us on short notice for lunch. She threw together a salad and a pasta with no topping - just garlic salt, olive oil and parsely. Most people have those ingredients on hand! Doesn't take much time! It's a skill you can grow in. I even dare to invite people over now when I have no clue what we have available or what I'm planning to serve. I dig through cupboards and usually come up with something. Or, KFC is just around the corner! Keep $20 handy for any surprises and run out and pick up stuff on your way home from Church or whatever.
I've had plenty of hospitality blunders. But no-one except me cared really. Planning does help, but don't let that be the big obstacle! I'm so scatterbrained but usually things just come together. Always have onions and bacon on hand and you can make just about anything. A dozen eggs? Make an omelette! Tomato soup in the cupboard? Add a can of diced tomatoes, a can of evap milk, saute onions in olive oil and add garlic and mix it all and call it some fancy name like tomato bisque. Throw a bag of croutons on the table and if you have salad greens you're good to go!
Stews are easily stretchable! I can feed a crowd so cheaply you'd be amazed. At our local thrift store they often have free bread. I stock my freezer with it and along with a soup or pasta dish I always have what I need for company. Just thaw briefly in the microwave, set the oven to broil and voila - bread with your soup. I also make killer garlic bread by melting the butter on the stovetop, throwing in the minced garlic and any herbs I'm in the mood for, add a tsp of lemon juice (turns the garlic green but tastes oh so good), and dip pieces of french bread or sourdough into it and lay on a baking tray. Stick under the broiler 3-4 mins and you're done - much quicker than buttering each piece!