Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Hospitality - Keeping It Simple

By Maggie Bartlett

There’s a lot of commentary about communing around the table—it’s hard to keep up. I’m all for this, though, because gathering around a table and breaking bread together is biblical. I love hosting people for dinner and board games or a cookout in the backyard. It energizes and refreshes me. But I like to keep it simple and try not to overwhelm myself with farm-to-table meals enjoyed around centerpieces made by local artists while sipping water from glasses cut out of wine bottles that we saved from every momentous occasion. There are a lot of Instagram feeds, books and blogs telling me how to make my table beautiful in five easy steps or photos upstaging my thrown together charcuterie board. It’s easy to feel, well, less than when we compare ourselves to others.

One of my dearest and oldest friend lives in Denver now. She and her husband regularly invite us over for dinner at the last minute. We arrive in shorts and t-shirts, still sweaty from a hike, and bring the one tomato and sad bag of spinach we had in the fridge. “Fishes and loaves,” she says.

We convene in the kitchen, barefooted, where I rummage through her fridge and cabinets to find something that will make the spinach less sad. 

We shimmy to music while we invent fancy beachy drinks with leftover pineapple juice. There aren’t appetizers, unless you count the apples her husband is cutting up for a salad. The house isn’t spotless. They didn’t deep clean it and—gasp—they don’t even tidy up. There’s probably a basket of laundry in the hallway, papers on the counter and muddy paw prints on the floor. But it doesn’t matter, because we’re comfortable, we’re laughing and we’re together.

I love this. This is how gathering and communing should be. All about the company, not about the accessories. It’s so refreshing.

Sure, maybe it just sounds like we’re in our (late) twenties to you. Maybe this is what twenty-somethings do. That could be true. But I certainly don’t want to forget the way she gathers her people when I’m 42. No fuss, just fun. We feel safe in their home because they aren’t trying to impress or entertain us, they just want to welcome us. Her heart of hospitality inspires and encourages me.

Don’t let your sofa from college and table from Craigslist hold you back from gathering people in the warmth of your home. Every moment of our lives can’t be Instagram-worthy and we’d probably waste of a lot of time trying. Your paper towel napkins and sweatpants are just fine with me. 

Our homes are messy and full of love and when we welcome others into our space, just as it is, it gives them room to breathe. 

It’s not complicated to be hospitable—entertain less and welcome more. Phew, what a relief.


  1. Love this Maggie! It's def an area I struggle in, but getting better! Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Mary Beth! Keep welcoming your people in!

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