13 Ways to Practice Christian Hospitality as a Teen

You know how everyone knows that one person- whether that's a family friend, a grandparent, a cousin- that makes you feel loved and special? The one who always gives you extra candy whenever you see them? The one who always gives you a place to stay, and would sacrifice anything for you? The one who always goes out of their way for others?
Hospitality can mean so many different things.

Now, when most people think of hospitality, they think of having someone over. While inviting someone into your home is definitely a form of hospitality, that's not really what it is.

My mom and I were talking just last night about how hospitality really is different for everyone, because everyone shows love in different ways.

There are so many different ways to be hospitable, but there are also lots of misconceptions about hospitality and what it actually means.
The Hospitality of Abraham Icon
The dictionary defines hospitality as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

That doesn't have to mean the reception into our homes; maybe it can mean the reception into our circle. Into our conversation. To our lunch table.

Maybe the reception into our hearts.

Look at the word hospitality. Hospitality. Notice that word 'hospital' in there? And why do people go to a hospital?

Okay, yes, because they're sick or something's wrong.

But ultimately, to be taken care of.

To be nurtured.

To be healed.

"People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

So what does hospitality mean for teenagers like us?

Hospitality is the art of making someone feel like family. 

Of making people feel wanted. Of giving up your own wants and needs for the sake of others to the point where you would do anything for them.
white egg shell on white ceramic plate

The best examples of hospitality are those who give up their own comfort for the comfort of others. Those are the people who, through their actions, demonstrate the meaning of hospitality.

They reveal the sacrificial love of God. 

Not everyone who sacrifices their comfort, home, or money is happy to do so at first. But they are soon rewarded. Not with money, not with a 'shout-out', but with the gratefulness of the people they sacrificed for.

“It does people good to have to do things they don't like...in moderation.” - L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Hospitality is important because it allows us to grow closer to God through selfless acts. 

The art of hospitality isn't easy, so it doesn't hurt to start now.

But we, as teenagers, don't often get the opportunity to host people. So how can we practice hospitality?

I've come up with several ways to show hospitality and love to your friends and neighbors.

13 Ways to practice hospitality as a teenager

Ask questions

This is probably the easiest way to let someone know you care. People love talking about themselves, so when you ask questions about other people, they feel like you care enough to learn more about them. One of the biggest pieces of advice from my dad: be interested, not interesting. (Check out Hannah's post for good tips on meeting new people and asking questions!
cookies on white paper towel

Bake treats for your neighbors

Baking for someone is such a fun, sweet way to show love to your friends and neighbors. You'll not only have fun making them, but also seeing people's reactions when you show up with a plate of cookies!

Offer to go to the store for your neighbors

This is a really moving way to be hospitable, especially during this time. If you're heading to the store, check in with your neighbors to see if they need anything. 

Offer to babysit/walk dogs/water plants for free

Especially right now, everyone could use some extra help. Offering your services for free, whether it be cleaning, babysitting, dog sitting, etc., is a very kind way to show people we're in this together, and that you care.
woman standing in front of kitchen sink

Send someone a letter (out of nowhere!)

Not a lot of people today get to experience the joy and thrill of opening the mailbox to see a letter addressed to them! A letter is a great way let someone know you're thinking of them, and they'll be touched by the extra effort you took to write and send one! For some extra fun, throw in some stickers, a recipe, a playlist, some hand-lettered bible verses, or even some confetti- get creative! 

Cook a meal for someone

Who doesn't love a home cooked meal? Cooking someone a meal can make someones life so much easier, especially if they've just had a baby, lost a close relative/friend, or just moved. They'll feel truly loved and cared for.

Bring treats to class

This isn't really applicable now, haha, but something to keep in mind for next semester. ;) Everyone doing school could always use an extra pick-me-up, so bring a plate of cookies or muffins, and it'll be sure to lift their spirits! Of course, check with your school to make sure it's okay to bring treats, and make sure there's enough for everyone (you won't want to learn that the hard way...).
pink flower bouquets on bucket

Send someone a birthday gift

It always means so much to me when someone remembers my birthday, let alone sends me a gift! Going out of your way to send someone a birthday gift is such a great way to tell them you love and care about them.

Send cards to a nursing home

Tons of residents living in nursing homes haven't seen their family in weeks, even months (if they have any family), so a card is sometimes just what they need to brighten their day. Check with your local nursing home/assisted living center to get their mailing address, and they will likely distribute them to the residents who could use some encouragement.

Bring flowers or chocolate to a friend in distress

This one is really only doable if you drive, or if your parents don't mind driving you around (my parents mind, so...). If your sibling or friend is having a tough day, get them some flowers and their favorite candy and drop it by their house. A great way to lift someone's spirits!
white and yellow flower on brown knit textile

If they offer, let them 

If someone offers to clean your house or pay for your food, let them. You might be thinking, 'Isn't it the other way around? Shouldn't you pay for their food? Isn't it polite to refuse to let them clean up in your own house?'

But if someone offers to pay or clean up, or even if someone offers to do something hospitable for you, let them. It makes them happy, just as it makes you happy. They wouldn't offer if they didn't want to, trust me.

Be present

This past year, a friend and I hosted a New Years Eve party for a few of our friends. I remember spending a lot of time making sure the food was all ready and accessible, making sure we didn't run out of things, making sure everything was running smoothly.

But I was just entertaining. I wasn't being hospitable.

The art of hospitality is making sure the guests feel welcome and wanted. But I didn't spend a lot of time actually making sure my friends felt welcome.
potted plant on window with curtain
A good, hospitable host is there. People want to see the host, not the food displays (most of the time, anyway). That doesn't mean you should neglect making sure everything's running smoothly, but if you're hosting a party, a book club, or just having some friends over, take a break from working behind-the-scenes and spend time with your guests. Find the balance between serving others physically as well as with the joy of your company.

Be yourself

It's hard to make people feel like family when you're just putting on a show. Be open, be warm. People who aren't 'real' or pretend like they have everything together aren't as relatable or enjoyable to be around. If you embrace your imperfection and your struggles without hesitation or shame, people will feel more comfortable around you knowing that you're not perfect, either.
closeup photography of white petaled flowers
Today, I urge you to be that one person. The person that others can always count on to welcome them. The person that always makes people feel at home, even if it's only in your arms. The person who makes everyone feel wanted and included and loved.

The person who shines with the Light of God.

Be that person.

Whew, that was a long post, but one I enjoyed writing.

What are your opinions about hospitality? Do you have any other ways to show hospitality besides the ones I mentioned? I'm eager to hear what you think in the comments!

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Thanks for reading, my friend. xoxo

8 comments

  1. This is a great post! I love the first one. I have a pen pal at a retirement community. I ask a lot of questions about her life and tell her about mine. Asking questions really does show that you are interested!
    -Lrose5

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    1. Thank you, my friend! Oh, I love that!! Yes, asking questions is a wonderful way to show someone you care, and you'll likely receive the same interest in return; people love to hear about your life just as much as you love to hear about theirs. There's another post idea- the art of conversation. XD Thanks for commenting!! ❤️

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  2. Love this! One of your points reminded me of the story of Martha and Mary, and our "doing" vs "being" traps. Thanks for sharing your beautiful words of wisdom and encouragement to us all! - Uncle Mike

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    1. Yes, that's very true- I'm trying to be more like Mary, myself. ;)

      Thank you, Uncle Mike!! <3

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  3. What a great article Olivia! I pray other teenagers read and take to heart some of these awesome suggestions. Your heart is beautiful and shows the grace you have been raised with. Can't wait to
    read more by you. GOOD JOB!

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    1. That means a lot to me. <3 Thank you so much!!

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  4. Beautiful post!! The ultimate goal of giving hospitality is the ability to give a person ‘worth’. You do that, sweet one, every time you smile!��. I love your heart��

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    1. I absolutely agree. Thank you so much, Mimi!! That mean a lot. 😘

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