Hospitality for a Crowd

I am firmly convinced that hospitality is essential for creating community.  Whether it’s inviting another mom from church over to your (not-perfectly-clean) house for lunch or having another family over for dinner or hosting a weekly Bible study, hospitality is how we build those deeper relationships with each other.  If we haven’t done it much, even having another family for dinner can be nerve wracking.  I’ll never forget my greatest newlywed hosting failure, when we had our friends Jonathan and Jackie over to our tiny apartment and the stinking pork loin I’d selected with pride took an hour longer to cook than I’d expected (because I hadn’t totally defrosted it ahead of time).  Or the time we brought lasagna over to friends with a new baby and it had to go back in the oven at their house for another half hour because it was still frozen in the middle.  Or the time I got ambitious and tried to make homemade tortillas AND homemade refried beans for a bunch of my college girlfriends and the tortillas were totally messed up and we basically sat around our card table eating pieces of dry cracker-like substance with beans.  I could go on.  The point is, I’ve made lots of mistakes, but all the people to whom I’ve fed sub-par food are actually still my friends.  They know I’m not the perfect hostess, and thankfully, they don’t care.  All of this is to the young housewife to keep trying her hand at hosting.  And if you’ve mastered one family, how about inviting over a whole group?

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Since my husband is a professor, we’ve become pros at groups, but I think we had our largest gathering to date this summer, when about 30 lawyers from the same Christian organization gathered in our home.  Fortunately, my friend Janelle and her husband are part of the group, and she volunteered to co-host with me.  Since she works part-time, she was in charge of the shopping, and since I’m home full-time, I did the cooking.  We did Mexican food, with two tortilla options, two meat options, and beans, rice, chips, and toppings.  I bought a second crock pot for this event (and because we’re going to be hosting a weekly small group in our home this fall), and it really was pretty easy!  Paper products made clean up a breeze.  With Janelle and her husband to help with last minute prep and hosting during the evening, I wasn’t even frazzled.  We were crowded, but everyone felt welcome.  We’re looking forward to doing it again next year.

Sometimes it’s hard to actually visualize how it all might work, but we are here to help you with that!  At our E2S Founder’s Reunion this summer, each family was responsible for feeding the 25 of us for dinner one night.  Since we’ve all hosted large groups in the past, each of us did a tried-and-true crowd pleasing meal, and they were all so good that we promised each other we’d share our recipes.  And if we’re sharing them with each other, we might as well share them with you!  Stay tuned for those yummy recipes in the days to come!

In the meantime, what’s the biggest crowd you’ve fed?  Any group meal themes or crowd recipes you can share with the rest of us?  I’ll be taking notes!

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