November 24, 2015

When It Comes To Entertaining for the Holidays, This is What I Know...

We woke up to snow today...

Everyone else was taking down Autumn decor early and putting out all things Christmasy, but I was not ready!

I love Fall... my wish is that he would hang around until... well, you know... until almost Spring! 

But still... 

This is nice too! 
 (and now maybe I am ready... but my Christmas decorations will have to wait until after next weekend anyway!)

Even when the temperatures are falling outside, the invitation is open to go out, enjoy that crisp Fall air (or crisper Winter chill), and then retreat to some place warm and inviting!  

I think it is easiest in the Fall to create a space that is nourishing and welcoming.  All the lit candles, and yummy scents of the season - maybe it's just me, but there is something special in the atmosphere around this time of year that seems to beg for Community!

It helps that the holidays are not quite here yet, but they are approaching quickly. 

We turn our thoughts to family and tradition and we continue (or begin) to count the blessings and we find ourselves ever more thankful this time of year - even when there are so many things for which we are not giving thanks! It seems that the atmosphere itself is charged with a bit of refocusing and looking for the good. 

Maybe the idea of the holidays is still a bit dreamy (and unrealistic, possibly.) but for me,  

Hope springs eternal in the Fall!

I wouldn't say that hostessing came naturally to me... we did very little entertaining as I grew up. But I have learned and practiced and tried (and failed) and now, I can honestly say that I am happiest when I have my family and/or a few friends gathered in close... coffee and talking, games and laughter, snacks and a movie. It doesn't really matter, I just love having people in my home.  

I was challenged myself a couple of years ago (thanks to this post by Shauna Niequist) to be more spontaneous about it! Less Pinterest-worthy entertaining (Amen? I sense a collective exhale!), and more heart-to-heart, spur of the moment get-togethers!

Recently (due to the holidays, I am sure!) I have been reading posts and articles about battling Perfectionism... about the pro's and con's of the (dreaded?) Drop-In, and about the stress of having people fill your home for the holidays and I get it... I really do!  

I can come off all Hostess-y and Chilled... but I admit if my doorbell rings unexpectedly, my heart races and I scan the rooms with panic in my throat and vulnerability fogging my vision.

You see - I like things picked up... put away (-ish) but I am not a clean freak.  Oh - it's clean... but it's no where NEAR spotless.  My Little is all grown up and out of the house so for the most part things stay where I put them and if there is a mess, it's our own doing.  Our house? It's lived in ya'll!

But more than readying my Home for company, I want to prepare my heart for Christ... 

I want to prepare Him room, first in me... and then fill up with His Presence to overflowing so He pours out all over my home and guests.  

Some days I remember it's easier to do this first off, before any of the Bossy Lists come into focus again.  On other days, I take breaks in the midst of the busy and make time for a worship song or just a few quiet deep breaths to invite Him in.

My favorite is to combine all of those things... with a candle softly flickering and my Bible and One Thousands Gifts journal open, I am ready to count on before the day unfolds. With coffee in hand, a prayer on my lips, and worship poured out in the quiet... both inviting and releasing His Presence to linger through out my day!

In this world with Pinterest and the amazing Blogosphere, you can get tips and ideas on how to decorate and what to make and what little I can offer in those regards could get lost in the shuffle... but more important than decor and recipesthis is what I know:

The house can be spotless, the menu divine... 
but if you have not done the work of
creating an atmosphere of Gathering In,
-well if you, like me, have done it both ways
then you know the difference! 

One leaves you exhausted and glad that it's finally over...
The other refreshed and ready to do it again (You know, someday!)

So here are my easy tips of creating an atmosphere of Gathering In for Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or any time you plan to fill your home for any occasion...

(Don't worry.  They really are simple!)

1.  Determine what the Agenda is for the party/meeting/gathering... 

2. ...and stick to it!

Is it fun and games; an evening of laughter and relaxing? Then keep it light... Pray that your guests have fun... and prepare your heart ahead of time!   

Is it for a time of prayer and worship; a time to dig deeper in the Word? Then set the mood with dim lighting and soft music, be prayed up and in tune, and prepare your heart in advance.  

Is it a family dinner filled with family drama brewing; an attempt at peace making or simply a date to reconnect again over the table? Pray for your guests and prepare your heart in advance.

Are you seeing a pattern?
Yes... it's that easy. 

No matter the reason or the season... no matter what decorations or party favors are dug out and displayed, the most important How To that you need to remember is this:

Before the first guest arrives...
Invite Him In!

If you want to create an atmosphere of welcoming, of safety and love... of grace and laughter... if you want to create a home that feels warm and inviting... then before or during or after you do all the work of cleaning and arranging, of baking and table-setting, of stressing and fretting all the What If's and If Only's... then take a moment and breathe deep and prepare Him room...

Oh - He will always come!

He's waiting to be invited in to all of your celebrations and festivities... to all of your every days.  ...and not in a religious, every-gathering-must-contain-the-Gospel sort of way - but in a real lifeI-LOVE-you-and-want-the-BEST-for-you, and I-am-relational-and-I-LOVE-it-when-you-open-your-heart-and-your-home-and-be-relational-too sort of way! 

And that way? 

Well... that way is just 
always, always better! 

How about you?  Are you a natural hostess with the mostess or does having a house full stress you out?  

Either way... preparing Him room will help bring a bit more grace to the Gathering!

P.S.  I'm linking up with these lovely writers:

The Community over at #SmallWonders and #WordswithWinter

Laura Boggess over at #ChasingTheBlueFlower
Holly Barrett for #TestimonyTuesday

Kelly Balarie for #RaRaLinkUp



If you, like me, enjoy a few special touches in your holiday decor, as a DaySpring affiliate, can I just say - they are having some amazing Pre-Black Friday Sales right now! It's the perfect time to pick up a few pieces, as well as get in some early holiday shopping!

* Updated post. Originally Published on November 21, 2013 
This has become a favorite reposting of mine because oh my goodness, we all need this reminder!

How can I be praying for you this week? I would be honored to talk to God regarding whatever is on your heart!


  1. I knew we were sisters 20 years apart but now I really know. LOVE this post with all my heart. xo

  2. I admire your hostess gift, Karrilee. It sounds like you thrive with hostessing. Your decorations look so warm and inviting, too. I get stressed out, even if it's just our kids and grandkids. I want everything to go well and everyone to get along and feel warmly welcomed. I really wish I could relax more. But even though we're different in that area, we have the same desire - to invite Him in before even the first guest arrives. :) May we together prepare Him room! Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Trudy! I have relaxed a lot over the years, but yes - I have always loved a full house... I think years and years of remembering to put Him first helps to let go of the perfectionistic tendencies! Praying for you and yours as you gather in! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. I think that coming into a home that is lived in is the most welcoming and when it is the heart of one who loves the King with such a passion it is more than welcoming, it is grace filled goodness with a purpose. I agree... I'd like to hold on to the fall a little longer, like you.

    Bless you as you bless others with your hospitality!

    1. I think our homes - much like our hearts - are most welcoming when we are willing to be authentic and vulnerable, right? (In other news, I'm happy to report sunshine and melting snow! Yay for Fall!)
      Happy Thanksgiving, Dawn!

  4. Loved this friend! We were separated at birth. When I was at seminary, they used my room to show potential students. There were times when they'd call me minutes before coming to my room. They knew it would be clean...not spotless but clean. Bread and Wine was so good, I've gifted it to some dear dear friends!

    1. LOVED Bread and Wine. I quit buying actual copies because I kept accidentally giving them away! LOL! I had to buy it on Kindle to keep it! ;) #Kindred

  5. Anonymous5:12 PM

    I am not a hostess but do my best to not let my guests know that. My parents were big on having others over as we were a Navy Officer's family. But I did not learn to do that.
    It is the grace I have been given by the Lord that invites people in and feeds them and loves them. So, in reality, the Lord is my Host as I, then, am His servant. I think that works best for me. : )
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda @ Being Woven
    visiting from Jennifer's

    1. Oh I love this Linda! Yes - He is the best Host ever, right? I am always honored that He invites me to stand by His side as we invite guests in! Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!

  6. I love this post! Your photos are so inviting. Fall is my favorite time of year, too, and I love having people over. My house needs so much work and is often in disarray, but I've learned over the years that if I waited until it was spotless I would never have anyone over. People are more interested in fellowship and having fun than in the state of my house. Thanks for a lovely post and great tips! Blessings to you! I'm visiting from Words With Winter this time.

    1. Yes Gayl - I think that is the real key... people are really more interested in spending time with US than in inspecting our homes! (But sometimes we forget, right?) Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. I'm somewhere in between the hostess with the mostess and the introverted recluse ;). But you have wonderful advice--all too often I forget to do the praying and preparing. I'm going to try to remember this on Thanksgiving day this year!

    1. Ah I tow that line as well, Anita! LOL! Mondays are my scheduled (as in penciled in and blocked out days on the calendar) for my Introverted recluse plans! ;) I doubt you forget the praying and preparing Him room part, but there is something about setting aside a few minutes to do it intentionally! I'm sure you will feel and see and know the difference this year as you do just that! Love you, friend! Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Such wonderful advise, Karrilee! Especially to invite God in before any other guests :). I struggle with the spontaneous hosting too! Life is so busy, on too many days my home looks like a tornado blew through! But I am learning that if I make my heart a welcoming place, the house doesn't matter so much. Happy Thanksgiving, Beloved. You have been a blessing to me this past year.

    1. Oh sweet friend... you're heart is most definitely a welcoming place! I would sit with you any time, anywhere! You have been a blessing to me as well and my only regret is that we didn't carve out some face to face sitting time while at JT together! Next time... (she whispers while crossing her fingers!) Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. "How about you? Are you a natural hostess with the mostess or does having a house full stress you out?" Um, yeah, that second thing. Definitely the second thing. I am the hostess with the leastess. But I love this post! And when I'm out walking tomorrow morning before my in-laws arrive, I will, God help me, invite Him in first and foremost! Thank you for glad to meet you on Cheerleaders 4 Christ on FB. Looking forward to following you from now on!

    1. LOL, Elizabeth! I have my 'that second thing' occasions as well! I will be out walking tomorrow morning as well... my little family usually takes a short hike or a walk in the morning before all the festivities kick off! Somehow, I just know I will be thinking of you as I am braving the cold! You are welcome here anytime, my new friend! Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Beautiful! Gathering is a very special word to me and for the very reason that you write today. For me it's a party with Jesus being the invited first!

    1. Don't you love how He is the first to arrive, and yet somehow - He never leaves? #swoon
      Happy Thanksgiving, Jodie! Thanks so much for stopping by!


Thanks so much for stopping by! I always love to hear your thoughts! Remember to: Speak Life - Be Love - Shine On!

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