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Three Ways to be Intentional about Hospitality

Each year around this time, when the afternoon sun is still warm, and the leaves are determined to stay attached to the branches I unfurl my clenched fisted hold on summer. Without any prompting, my taste buds instinctively yearn for pumpkin bread, squash bisque, crisp apples, and gingersnap cookies. Though I love the ease and spontaneity of summer (and of course the tan) I am easily seduced by the gentle transition of summer’s fade into fall. Her crackling leaves, gilded sunlight, and last bit of warmth endear herself to me, and in the words of Paula Abdule, I am forever her girl.

If you have not yet felt the urge to create a seasonally decorated front door, Décor to Door is here to offer inspiration. Look around the homes in your neighborhood; do you see any doors festooned for fall? When you do, make a note of the way they make you feel. Even a simple wreath is a kind gesture of intentional hospitality. Our American culture and fast pace lifestyle rarely hold space for intentional hospitality. Intentional, meaning on purpose, premeditated, in hopes of fulfillment. The word hospitality comes from the Latin word, hoses which comes from the word hostis meaning to have power. Host, hospital, hospitality, hostel, hospice, and hotel are all words that derive from the Latin root hospes/hostis. Don’t you find it interesting that a host(ess) possesses power when he/she extends an open hand (seemingly a sign of submission) of welcome to the guest or stranger? Being intentional about creating a space, especially your front door, honors your guests and sets a precedent about what they will experience beyond the threshold. Be it a conversation over a cup of tea, a shared meal, or a simple exchange of children, we play the part of the host for whatever duration our guests are on our porch or inside our home. Being hospitable has nothing to do with fancy décor and everything to do with intention.

Though family may live in your home, they are the primary benefactors of your hospitality. And don’t rule out yourself… we need to be intentionally hospitable to ourselves also! So here are three simple ways to nurture intentional hospitality to those who spend time in your home:

  • A simple way to express hospitality is by lighting a candle. The flickering glint of a dancing flame feels mesmerizing. One burning candle can make even a large room feel more intimate and cozy.

  • Another way to create hospitality is through smells. Diffusing an essential oil in you kitchen or home’s entrance greets guests with a wave of nostalgia. Smells we naturally associate with autumn include cloves, orange, anise, cinnamon, apples, and ginger. If you don’t have a diffuser, you can achieve a similar olfactory experience by milling spices on your stove. I have included my favorite recipe for a mulled cider with an ingredient that may surprise you.

  • Hospitality by its very nature is the personification of warmth. Since the days are shorter and the evenings are colder, adding blankets of different textures, sizes and colors create an environment that invites personal connection, relaxation, and easy conversation.

One’s home need not be fancy or require copious amounts of time to implement intentional hospitality. Often it is the simplest of gestures that have the power to make your guests feel known and received with grace.

My Favorite Milled Cider-makes about 20 servings.

6 Cups apple cider

6 Cups tart cherry juice

3 star anise pods

4 cinnamon sticks

4 whole allspice berries

6 cloves

1 orange cut into wheels (seeds removed)

In a large crock, combine all liquid ingredients

In a 6x6 square of cheesecloth, add spices, then pull corners in towards the middle, securing the bundle with cooking twine. Plop the spice sachet into the cider and let mull while barely simmering for 30 minutes.