HOLIDAY HOSTING HACKS THAT FREE YOU TO SERVE

HOLIDAY HOSTING HACKS THAT FREE YOU TO SERVE

Entertaining during Thanksgiving and Christmas can be stressful but a lot of pressure can be eliminated with a little planning and by keeping our daily focus Jesus’ command to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39). Here are a few tips to get organized and prepared so we’ll have room to do what Jesus calls us to do.

Plan Ahead

After your guest list has been decided, settle on your menu. Once your menu is set, make a list of all the ingredients you need at the grocery store or farmer’s market, as well as which stores you’ll need to visit. Pro tip: the holidays are not the time to try out a new grocery store. Stick to what you know or you’ll be wandering the aisles frustrated that you can’t find the vanilla extract or chopped pecans. This will put you in a very bad mood, and you can’t be in a bad mood when you’re about to possibly encounter sometimes-challenging relatives you haven’t seen in a year (we’ll get to relatives in a moment). While you’re shopping, cooking, and cleaning, pray as you go. Thanking the Lord for His many blessings and praying specifically for those you’ll be encountering is a great way to prepare your heart.

Do As Much As You Can Ahead Of Time

After you’ve bought your ingredients, whatever you can make ahead of time, make it. If you’re serving a salad, have your vegetables chopped, nuts toasted, dressing made and stored appropriately. If you have casseroles that can be chilled in the fridge, make them a day or two before. Appetizers like a charcuterie board can be put together ahead of time as well. Have your bread sliced, asparagus trimmed, lemons squeezed beforehand—you get the idea. Also, clean as you go. There’s nothing like waking up to a spotless kitchen on the day you’re hosting a large meal or party. Instead of running from room to room with your hair on fire, you’ll be able to enjoy your guests. You’ll have the capacity to ask good questions, listen, and watch for opportunities the Holy Spirit gives you to encourage or pray for someone who needs it.

Delegate

Every year I have this ideal that I want my guests to be able to simply show up and not have to do a thing. But the older I get and the more people I host, the more unrealistic this becomes. Friends and relatives really are happy to bring their specialty dessert, or pick up that artisan loaf of bread, or come with an overflowing bowl of salad. I find that for every dish or drink that someone else handles, a surprising amount of pressure is taken off on the big day. When others pitch in not only are you, as the host, more at ease but also more people get to share in having a part in the celebration.

It’s Not Your Responsibility To Fix Your Relatives

If your guest list happens to include difficult or awkward relatives, it’s freeing to remember that it’s not your responsibility to fix them. I know what you’re thinking… but I know exactly what’s wrong with them and have so many good ideas! Let Jesus decide what He wants to do with those great ideas and then ask Him to help you walk out the gifts of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness… (Galatians 5:22-23). Think of how less stressed you’ll be if you don’t task yourself with having to change all your loved ones over Christmas. This is very freeing news. The day may come when you have to gently confront a loved one, or deal with a perpetually difficult problem. But the holiday season typically isn’t the time to try to solve decades-old issues. Throw off the responsibility of having to fix everyone, pray, and pick up a piece of pumpkin pie. You’ll thank me for this one.

Focus on What’s Right This Year

Every holiday season has a cultural ideal that none of our holiday experiences can live up to. Our Thanksgivings and Christmases will never totally measure up to the standard we read about in books or see in the movies. Someone or something will always be missing. Disappointments will happen. But make a decision to focus on what is right this year. Be intentional to thank God for who is present with you, for who He is, and for all the blessings He’s given you. A thankful heart will be a salve for whatever disappointments linger. With a little planning ahead, a few people to help, some delicious recipes, your loved ones around you, and most importantly, the presence of Christ Himself, this holiday season is sure to be the most wonderful time of the year.

 

Check out Kelly’s New Cookbook, A Place at the Table.

The post Holiday Hosting Hacks That Free You to Serve appeared first on LifeWay Voices.

Episode #7: Love People and Pass It Around

Episode #7: Love People and Pass It Around

by Kelly Minter and Regina Pinto | A Place at the Table Podcast

Episode #7

Food stylist and photographer Teresa Blackburn joins Kelly and Regina again to talk about the significance of finding what you are passionate about and using that as a tool to serve those around you.

This episode, she shares with Kelly and Regina about the highs and lows of being a photographer and working in the food styling business, along with some tips on what it takes to get started in that line of work. The trio also discuss the therapeutic nature of cooking and how, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, cooking can bring you joy if you look at it as a way to love and serve others.

The key highlights of this episode:

  • Whether it’s photography or cooking, both arts are about serving the people that you are working or cooking for. Learn their needs and see how you can have a role in serving them.
  • Cooking does not have to be seen as a chore. When you start to see cooking as a means of serving others and spend time learning how to cook, it makes it joyful for both those you are cooking for and for yourself.
  • Fostering traditions in the kitchen is extremely important in teaching the younger generation the art and beauty of cooking.

Quotes from Kelly, Regina + Teresa:

“Nobody’s an expert necessarily when they walk into the kitchen. It’s really just about saying, ‘I’m going to do this, and I’m going to learn.’” – Kelly

“Try not to be perfect in this world because you’ll be so disappointed all the time. Embrace what you have and what you can do with it and find a passion.” – Teresa

“Put love on it and pass it around.” – Teresa

Click here to listen on iTunes!

Episode #6: Beautifully Imperfect Food

Episode #6: Beautifully Imperfect Food

by Kelly Minter and Regina Pinto | A Place at the Table Podcast

Episode #6

Kelly and Regina are joined today by food and photography stylist Teresa Blackburn, who was the stylist of the photographs found inside of A Place at the Table. As an artist herself, Teresa has an eye for beauty, detail, and uniqueness, especially when it comes to imperfection.

In this episode, Teresa highlights how imperfection around your table, in your home, and even in the food you make can provide a sense of comfort and ease to those you invite into your home. Teresa also shares how she likes to prepare for guests, particularly in how she uses meaningful items from around her house to set the table when she has guests over. Teresa’s hosting tips and tricks are key to a dinner party of any occasion!

 

The key highlights of this episode:

  • Imperfection is what makes life interesting. Your home, table, and meal does not need to look perfect when you have people over. It can actually be the imperfections that make your guests feel more comfortable.
  • Every item you have around your house holds a story, so whether you have a souvenir from your travels or a special family heirloom, it can be fun to use those items while setting your table or preparing your home for guests.
  • Have fun with arranging your house for guests! Everything doesn’t have to match, so go with what looks and feels right to you when arranging your home and your table.

 

Quotes from Kelly + Regina:

“Life is not perfect. Life is beautifully imperfect.” – Teresa

“It’s about creating a space of belonging.” – Kelly

“Each person has their own aesthetic.” – Teresa

 

Click here to listen on iTunes!

WHAT THE FAMILY DINNER TABLE GAVE ME

WHAT THE FAMILY DINNER TABLE GAVE ME

Filmmaker and journalist Miriam Weinstein once asked in The Surprising Power of Family Meals:

What if I told you that there was a magic bullet—something that would improve the quality of your daily life, your children’s chances of success in the world, your family’s health, our values as a society? Something that is inexpensive, simple to produce and within the reach of pretty much anyone?

You may have guessed her answer: the family dinner table.

Now some of you may be wondering why I’m writing an enthusiastic post about the importance of the family dinner table as someone who has never been married and doesn’t have children. For one thing, I grew up in a family where my mom made dinners for us most nights and I’m still reaping the benefits. But “family” also has a much wider significance than our mere flesh and blood relatives. Jesus shared many significant meals with those who were part of His spiritual family and those who might one day be. When we offer our tables to Jesus and those we’re serving, we create a place where relationships flourish and bodies are nourished. Plus, even without a family of my own, I sit down for dinner in some form or fashion most every night with friends or in-town family.

Our Table Gives Others a Place to Belong

Growing up I could always count on sitting down as a family for dinner. It was grounding to look forward to my mom’s meals and the time together as a stabilizing force in my day, even if my siblings and I fought and complained about the minced onions in the meatloaf. My mom once pointed out that kids are buffeted all day long by things and people; they feel insecure and rejected because their friend has gone after another friend, for example. Dinnertime is a sacred time to draw your kids in, look them in the eye and let them know they belong.

This truth translates into almost any setting, whether you’re single, married, a parent, aunt or uncle, child, or friend. I try to cook and have people at my table as often as I can for the health benefits, yes, but mostly for the deepening of relationships. As we grow older our problems and trials only become more difficult and complex, making the safe harbor of the dinner table an even more meaningful place of respite and restoration. What a delightful gift God has given us in being able to gather around good food and fortify one another in the process.

The Table Cultivates Conversation and Storytelling

It’s no secret we live in a society that’s recently undergone a vast change in its communication habits. What used to be conversations that happened in person or on the phone now take place over texting. Texting may be expedient but it doesn’t help build relationships. The beauty of sitting down with other people around a meal is that face-to-face conversation becomes necessary. The dinner table is a place where we get to learn how to ask good questions, brush up on our listening skills, and refine our storytelling abilities.

Dinnertime is a sacred time to draw your kids in, look them in the eye and let them know they belong.Click To Tweet

Growing up I loved hearing stories like how my parents met, or why they chose my name, or what it was like when my mom finally gave birth to a boy after having three girls. My parents often asked us to share about our day and encouraged us to ask questions of one another. Even when we went through phases where we didn’t feel like talking, or we siblings rolled our eyes at one another, or we were plain grumpy from the school day, we learned how to dialogue and enter into dialogue, even when we didn’t feel like it. I’m thankful for those life skills I’m still drawing on today.

The Dinner Table Gives Us a Reason to Cook and Serve

Cooking and serving others isn’t for the domestic or epicurean elite. We’re all capable of making a simple meal and having people around our table to share it with. Over the years I’ve grown in my cooking and entertaining abilities, which incidentally has been an empowering journey. The empowerment finds its roots in Genesis 1-2 where God gave man and woman dominion over the earth—to cultivate it and be nourished from it. When I prepare a meal I’m actively taking part in the gift God has given us to create, and feed others and ourselves. This feels good!

But cooking has also helped me become a better servant. Shopping for ingredients, chopping vegetables, setting a table, and inviting people into my home is a natural way to serve others. Whether a friend is going through a hard time or a family member has a reason to celebrate, putting on a meal is a tangible way to feed both body and soul.

I know we’re all short on time and have countless reasons why cooking and sitting down together isn’t realistic or feasible. But let me encourage you to start with a simple meal and a 30-minute time frame with your family. If you don’t have a family like myself, invite some friends over. You may then want to graduate to having some neighbors over who you’d like to get to know better. Who knows where the journey will lead? And what matters more than the destination is all the community, good food, and meaningful conversations you’ll have along the way. Ingredients that fast food and texting can never give you.

STUDY THE BIBLE FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS

STUDY THE BIBLE FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS

I grew up in a church environment where a “Plan of Salvation” was regularly presented. If you prayed the sinner’s prayer, it was generally understood that no matter what happened from there on out, you were saved and good to go. Bibles were sometimes passed out with...

Episode #5: Bread

Episode #5: Bread

by Kelly Minter and Regina Pinto | A Place at the Table Podcast

Episode #5

In this episode, Kelly and Regina are joined by Kelly’s brother, David Minter, who talks with them about all things bread. Several years ago, David bought a book on how to make bread, tried his hand at making it, and realized how much he enjoyed the craft!

Now deemed by his family as the maker of the best pizza dough ever, David shares some of his tips on how to make bread, what types of bread are healthiest, and how bread-making ultimately points back to how God created us to be.

 

The key highlights of this episode:

  • Time and temperature are the two top components to making a good loaf of bread.
  • Just because a recipe or creation doesn’t turn out exactly how you wanted it doesn’t mean that you should quit. It’s all a part of the process and refining your craft.
  • If you are new to bread-making, it’s best to start with a “no-knead” recipe that uses instant yeast. Even if you haven’t made bread before, it’s best to just jump in and try it!
  • God designed us to be producers and creators, so whatever your hobby may be, using your hands to create is part of how God has designed you.

 

Quotes from Kelly + Regina:

“We are meant to be producers and creators.” – David

“Bread in and of itself is not a bad thing… you’ve just got to make sure you’re working with the right ingredients.” – David

“Let’s get baking, so we can not only enjoy the pleasure of having control over something and creating something but also so that we can nourish our loved ones.” – Kelly

 

Click here to listen on iTunes!

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