Five ways to involve your young children in hospitality:
1. Have them help clean and prepare for guests. Set the table, run a handheld vacuum, decorate place cards.
2. Let them help in deciding the menu and preparing the food. Is there a simple desert or side that you can work with them the day before on?
3. Have them greet guests at the door. Coach them ahead of time on what to say. Tell them they can offer guests a "hug, handshake or highfive!" Allow them show guest where they can put their boots or coat.
4. During and after the meal, help them to "see needs and meet them." This usually means mom or dad "sees" the need and helps the child in meeting it - getting new napkins, handing someone a drink, finding an age appropriate toy for the youngest of guests.
5. Teach them to walk their guests to the door, thank them for coming and help them find their shoes/coats.
My children are two and four (next month), and both of them are capable of most of these things - admittedly - with lots of help from mom and dad. (But isn't that like everything in parenting?) We find the main key is in communication. Prepare your child beforehand for what you expect and how they can love the guests that come to your doorstep. Gently remind them of their responsibilities as the evening goes on. Talk about the why to point them to the gospel: We want to bless people through the blessings God has given us (skills, abilities, material things). Everything was given to us by God. We serve because Jesus first served us, etc. (Lots more "reasons" on this week's show!) Most children that are really young still find this exciting and fun – not dutiful – so it's a great chance to capitalize on their willing attitudes.
Hospitality in the little years does take extra work, but if we're thoughtful and plan ahead, we can use it as a wonderful teaching tool for our children to learn to love others more than themselves and show people the light of Christ.