How To Practice Hospitality As A Single Person

Though it may be a gift more abstract that some, we all recognize hospitality when we feel it. An extra-warm welcome at an event. A guest room stocked with all the random things (shampoo, toothpaste) that you constantly forget to pack while traveling. A table where there is always more of what you are eating. No, please, take seconds. The more I settle into my full-fledged "adulthood" the more I value hospitality. I've also grown to realize that it isn't always as easy as I want it to be.
The good news is, practicing hospitality as a single person is fundamentally identical as practicing hospitality in any stage of life. The details, however, do vary. Some of us don't have a space of our own to have people over whenever we want. Thus, many single people view hospitality complacently as a thing we'll do someday when life slows down a bit, or we get married, or we're done with college, or we move into our own apartment. However, I am trying to make strides in my personal life toward putting myself out to make others feel known and loved, even while I'm still without a place that is strictly my own. Here are four simple practices I've found that foster and grow a spirit of hospitality in my life!

  1. Put away your phone - though the nostalgic among us gripe that this should go without saying, our phones have become such a part of us that we have to make conscious efforts to not have them close to hand. If you are anything like I am, you are significantly worse at multitasking than you like to admit. When we're spending time with family, friends, coworkers, or strangers, let's try to devote our full attention to them. Those virtual connections can wait for a later time (barring an emergency). Focus your energy, mind, and heart on the people in front of you and open yourself up to the possibility of total absorption. I know, it feels really weird. But after a few hours, doesn't it feel freeing too?
  2. Practice being a mobile host/hostess - who says you can only be hospitable in your own home? My mother taught me that a person can't wait to be invited to life, rather you should pretend that you're the host/hostess of every situation and make the plan yourself. As a girl in her mid-twenties who lives (at home) a solid forty-five minutes farther from "central territory" than most of her friend group, having people come over to my house isn't always ideal for my poor guests. I get around this by scheduling events out and about and inviting people into the plan. Maybe it's a girls' movie night or a beach sandcastle contest. I'm still the "hostess" and I still get to make the first move in hospitality, but without having to ask friends to make a two-hour round-trip drive on a weeknight.
  3. Plan free and low-cost outings - my friends and I love to try new restaurants in the area and the majority of my "for fun" budget goes here. I'm working on reigning in the expenses a little bit because of career-shift reasons (upside: I get to try my hand at doing what I love for a profession; downside: I get to not make much money for a while). A lot of people, especially single people struggling to set up in their careers and personal lives, don't have a massive category for spending out. This means that your "guests" might be more hesitant to come out of hiding if it requires spending money. Instead of dismissing yourself with budget excuses, why not construct your outings so that they cost very little or nothing? Find a free museum, pack a picnic, and invite some new coworkers or neighbors or friends to spend a Saturday morning with you. Many cities have "Free" guides with whole lists of cost effective or free ways to spend your time in the area. Check these out and plan accordingly - you'd be surprised how much you can get away with without having to spend more than a couple dollars in gas.
  4. Be consistent - maybe you're a goal-setter. Think about setting up a biweekly challenge for yourself to open up what home you have to friends or new acquaintances. Consistency is key in forming any habit, much less hospitality. You could sign up at your church to host a small group in your space, you could start a book club, you could institute a certain night of the week when your friends, new and old, can all come together to grab dinner. I'm still working out what sort of consistency works best for me now that summer's over and my new work schedule is shifting into play (plus almost my entire friend group works in the school system and they've all gone back to school) but I'm hoping to be able to put this fourth point into play as soon as it all settles back into some like predictability.

What about you? Do you find hospitality an easy or difficult practice? Are you single or married? If so, has being married changed your habits of hospitality? Do you have any tips/hacks to share with the rest of us? Leave a comment and let's chat about it! One of the most powerful acts of love is to welcome someone new on no pretenses whatsoever, just meeting them where they are. And it seems that hospitality is a really handy way to get started.

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