The Gift of Hospitality: The Lessons I’ve Learned From Opening My Home to Others

Person passing a bowl of food to another over a table
Photo by Dan DeAlmeida on Unsplash

After a year of living in our new apartment, my husband and I came to the unfortunate realization that we didn’t know a single person in our building. As I was reflecting on why we hadn’t even met our neighbors who live a few feet away from us, I realized that the pandemic had made everyone (including us) less social and less likely to introduce themselves to others. 

After this realization, my husband and I knew that if we wanted to foster a local community within our building, we had to build it for ourselves. Over the past year, we’ve hosted events, introduced ourselves to others, and shared the gift of hospitality to successfully foster a community of our own.

There are three main takeaways I’d like to share with you about the gift of hospitality that I hope will inspire you to practice your hospitality skills as well.

It has taught us a new way to care for people 

At least once a week, we host friends at our apartment for dinner, drinks, or board game nights. It has been a wonderful gift to share our home and our food with others. Every time we host people at our apartment, we put a lot of thought into how we can best care for our guests. From the food to the parking logistics, there are a lot of preparations that take place before the actual event.

For example, whenever someone new is coming over to our apartment, we always ask them if they have any food allergies or dislikes. From there, we’ll research new recipes, ensure that we purchase the right ingredients, and might even make a new recipe to meet someone’s needs. 

While I don’t have any food allergies myself, I’ve practiced making vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free food after hosting many people at our apartment. Not only has it been a great way for me to work on my cooking skills, but also it’s been a great way to welcome and care for people. Through the entire preparation process, we have our individual guests on our minds, thinking about how we can make them comfortable in our home.

Last St. Patrick’s Day, my husband and I hosted friends at our apartment for food, drinks, and good company. One of my vegetarian friends thanked us for the many vegetarian options we included in our spread. On a day known for its corned beef, we also served potato soup and a vegetarian shepherd’s pie. She said she always feels very taken care of when coming over to our apartment as she doesn’t have to worry about not having food options she’s able to eat. It made my heart swell to hear her appreciate the attention and care we provide to each of our guests.

It has taught us about building community

Making friends in your 20s and 30s can be hard. After my husband and I realized that we didn’t know a single neighbor, we slid a note under our neighbors’ doors inviting them over for appetizers and drinks at our apartment. Our neighbors living in the apartment across from us, a young couple around our age, took us up on the offer. 

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Despite having lived in the apartment for about a year themselves, they also had not met anyone until then. We chatted and had a wonderful time getting to know one another. Since then, we’ve also made a point to introduce ourselves to others and have made even more friends in our building.

In addition to making new friends, we’ve also fostered a stronger community by inviting friends over to our apartment. While we could easily head to a restaurant or bar to get together, we’ve enjoyed the more intimate setting of our home. We’ve realized that events at our apartment are a more inclusive gathering option for people looking to enjoy each other’s company without spending money on an expensive meal or drink.

We could’ve easily made excuses for not having people over to our home, especially noting that our apartment is fairly small and we’re by no means expert chefs. However, we’ve noticed that what matters more than creating a perfect guest experience is simply inviting people over for company and connection. Our friends have also started following our lead as they have hosted people in their homes as well with an emphasis on building a community.

It has taught us the value of experiences

While it can be nice to give someone a physical gift for a birthday or other holiday, my husband and I have realized it has been even more special to celebrate big events with a party at our home.

When two of our friends got engaged, we celebrated them by making them a “Congratulations” cake and inviting them over to eat it with us. It was fantastic to get together to celebrate them and hear all about their engagement story.

While we simply could’ve given them a cake to congratulate them, it was so much more valuable to be in one another’s company. We had the joy of sharing their excitement with them first-hand as they talked about wedding preparations. 

The pandemic has already taken away so much from everyone, so it is such a gift to share in-person experiences with people now through the gift of hospitality. My husband and I have learned that if we want to be part of a community, then we have the ability to create a community for ourselves and others. 

Whether it’s hosting a full meal or simply inviting people to bring a dish for a potluck, there is so much joy in gathering with other people for comfort and community. I hope it will make you think about how you too can share the gift of hospitality with others. 


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