Thursday, February 16, 2017

How to Host Sunday "Dinner" After a Morning at Church

Did you grow up with a big Sunday dinner?

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I did. Mom got up at 5:30 on Sundays to get the potatoes ready to cook. If they were scalloped she put it all together and baked it before church until it was about three-quarters done. She baked it the rest of the way when she got home. From the time I can remember, we had an oven with a timer so mom would get a roast ready and set the oven to come on at the proper time. She had made the dessert on Saturday and did the vegetables when we got home.

Our guests were people at church. We always connected with them during the break to confirm that they were coming. Many times our guests were a visiting missionary family or a speaker from out of town, so I often rode home with them to show the way. 

My dad would sit in the living room visiting with the guests while I helped my mom get the meal finished. Then mom would call dad to come cut the meat and I would go out to visit with the guests. 

My mom always set a beautiful table with lace tablecloths and china and had a delicious meal. I knew that when I grew up I wanted to follow her example of hospitality, even if I didn't do it as elegantly. Throughout much of our 34 years of marriage we have had Sunday company.

I've never had an automatic oven and I don't relish the idea of getting up at 5:30 on Sunday, so I have always done most of my preparation on Saturday. My slow-cooker is my best Sunday friend! It's so great to walk into the house after church and smell the food cooking. When we lived in South America, sometimes there was no delicious aroma because the power had gone off. Then my pressure cooker would come out and I would use it on my gas stove lit with a match!

Our Sunday mornings are busy times for us. Over the years we have often been at church from 8:30 until 12:30, so it's a trick to get a big meal on at 1 or 1:30. Here are ten helps to getting that Sunday "dinner" for your family and guests to enjoy!

  1. Invite Someone to Lunch -- If you have some people coming over for lunch then you have the motivation to do something about it!
  2. Don't overthink it -- People enjoy being invited and getting to know you; they aren't as concerned with the food or the condition of your house as you are. Really! My mom used to say, "I would like to be invited over even if they just opened a can of beans and served it on a paper plate."
  3. Clean up -- Okay, so you house should be relatively clean. Maybe free of clutter is a better way to put it. You want your guests to be able to walk in without tripping. Enlist the family Saturday night after supper to put away all their things from the public areas of your house. 
  4. Plan ahead -- Before you do your weekly grocery shopping, plan what you will have when your guests come. Check the recipes and your cupboard to make sure you have everything you need so there's no last minute rush to the store or simply none of the essential ingredient you need. Talk about stress--Ain't no one gonna be happy if the cook is banging pans!
  5. Cook what you know -- Having company is not the time to start trying new recipes. You never know how long they are going to take, what they will turn out like, or how they will taste. Save the taste thrills for your family. Sub sandwiches, grilled cheese, meatloaf are all better than underdone "what-is-this". One year every Sunday guest got "Beef Daube Bourguignon" because chuck roasts were so cheap. Only my family knew. 
  6. Start early -- maybe not as early as my mom, but do ahead all that you can. I make the dessert on Saturday (if I have one, usually I just serve ice cream). I put the stew (or whatever is going in the slow-cooker) all together and in the fridge overnight, peel the potatoes and leave them soaking in cold water, peel the carrots--all the day before. 
  7. Set the table -- now that it is just my husband and I at home most of the time we can have breakfast at the breakfast bar and I can set the table beforehand, too. My mom had a dining room table so she set it Saturday night. I usually do it Sunday morning, if I get to it. Our Sunday guests now are both sets of parents, our son and his wife and daughter, and our daughter, so the "girls" usually help with setting the table when I didn't get that done.
  8. Use your slow-cooker -- This is a lifesaver. Most of a meal can be made in this with just a salad and vegetable or bread on the side. The food is ready when we get home, so there's not a long wait.
  9. If they offer, say yes! -- If your guests offer to bring something, accept the offer. It's often easy for them to bring dessert, a salad, or bread. And that's one less thing you have to think about. Now that Sunday guests are family, we often share parts of the meal.
  10. Enjoy -- Working ahead takes the stress off you, even so there's always some feeling of rush, some nervous energy. But try to enjoy your guests. Ask them questions about themselves. Get to know them. After all, that's why you have them over.

I love having guests on Sunday. Now that it's mostly family, it's a different stage of life. But this is our season and we are glad that we can honor our parents and enjoy our kids (including the daughter-in-law!) and granddaughter often. We have been so blessed by the people who come into our home that serving them is our joy! I hope it will be your joy, too.

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  1. I love this list! We home church and every Sunday after church we have a fellowship meal! It is a wonderful time with church family! You talking about your mom made me stop and think about mine! After church it was not uncommon to have people over. Thanks for sharing this, it not only helped me with my planning but brought back a lot of wonderful memories!

  2. What a wonderful post! This is a hard thing to do, but with planning as you suggest , it can be done. My mother always hosted a lot of dinners on Sunday after church.



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