Teaching Kids Hospitality

Salad and drinks, prepared, styled and arranged by my son. Two years after posting this article, he continues to amaze us with the way he welcomes people into our home. 

One of my mothers many gifts is making people feel special. She never just throws a party, she welcomes each person in expectation. She never just leads someone to their room for the summer, she puts their name on the door, has the light on in anticipation, with fresh flowers on the nightstand. When you step foot in my childhood home there is no doubt my mom is excited for your visit. You can’t help but feel welcomed.
There were always people in our home. It felt strange when it was just my parents and siblings around our dining room table. I remember helping my mother set up the dining room table. Folding the napkins just so, sprinkling m&m’s on the table for birthday celebrations, writing out names on place cards and filling water pitchers. I was involved in many aspects of hosting our friends, family and guests. I didn’t always enjoy it; I’m sure in my teenage years I would have rather been doing something else. But now as an adult I find myself setting up for parties and guests just as my mother would, as well as bringing my own ideas.
One of my most embarrassing moments as a parent was also the moment I realized my son was learning how to be a proper host. At just three years old, my sweet boy looked up to his great grandmother and asked, “Can I get you some wine? Maybe a beer?” I wouldn’t normally be embarrassed by such a gesture except for the fact that my son’s great grandparents do not drink. In the midst of my embarrassment I couldn’t help but also be proud. It has been a joy watching him help set up, but he is already adding his own ideas. At only seven we have seen him chalk out parking lines on the driveway, add pictures to the guest room, create a treasure hunt for kids, post a sign directing guests where to go and so much more.

If you want to teach your child hospitality, lead by example. Try not to stifle their creativity. It takes a lot of restraint on my part as a perfectionist not to tell him his ideas don’t match the theme or style I am going for. Trust me, it was not easy when he buried that treasure right in the middle of the flowerbed. But to see the joy on his face when he led those kids on his own treasure hunt was priceless. We have also taught him to ask guests “Can I get you anything to drink?” And leave the choice up the guest.  

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