Practice ‘Scruffy Hospitality’: Your Home Doesn’t Need To Be Picture-Perfect To Invite People Over

You have surely heard many complain that times have changed, and we no longer have the spirit of friendship as in the past.

I remember being raised in a home full of relatives and friends. In the evenings, we watched cartoons with the children of our neighbors or played around the house, while “the adults” spent their time listening to music, playing cards, singing, or just enjoying their long conversations.

Often, I would hear the doorbell, and see a friend that has found just enough time to say hi.

Life was much spontaneous then, that’s for sure.

Nowadays, when I expect my friends to come by, I spend a few hours cleaning the house, preparing fancy meals, decorating the table, as I want everything to be just perfect when they arrive.

Likewise, when we go to a friend’s house, the table is set, the floors shine, and the menu is rich in dishes and desserts. But let’s face it, our homes are not always polished as they look when we have invited guests to visit us.

The difference is that we are now seeing mess as something terrible. Experts say that mess can be associated with various things.

It might be a sign of depression, as Kimberley Hershenson, a therapist, explains:

“Sometimes when life feels out of control or stressful other areas of your life get affected, one being your working or living space.

If you’re depressed or overwhelmed with life, you may feel you don’t have time to clean/organize, you may feel you don’t deserve a clean space, or you may be so preoccupied with other things you don’t even notice how messy your room has become.”

Weena Cullins, a marriage and family therapist, adds that some people find messiness perfectly ok:

 “Some people simply don’t value cleanliness and they prioritize other things over keeping a room clean.

When you think about it, there’s a mundaneness and a monotony with keeping up with tasks like this that need to be completed routinely without much more benefit to them than returning to a clean room, so sometimes a refusal to keep a room clean is more about that than anything else.” 

Yet, what is a mess for you can be a methodically organized formation for others. Psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs, from the University of Minnesota, reminds us that many creative minds throughout history had messy rooms and desks, including Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and Steve Jobs.

Yet, the point is to relax and be at peace with the occasional mess in your home.

All of us often have a little mess at home from time to time, so you should not feel ashamed to invite someone over even if everything in your house is not spotless.

Rev. Jack King speaks of “scruffy hospitality,” a term he coined, referring to the importance of focusing on the company.

On his blog, he defines it as follows:

“Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have.

Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together. 

Don’t allow a to-do list disqualify you from an evening with people you’re called to love in friendship. Scheduling is hard enough in our world.

If it’s eating with kind, welcoming people in a less than perfect house versus eating alone, what do you think someone would choose? We tell our guests ‘come as you are,’ perhaps we should tell ourselves ‘host as you are.’”

This sounds like a great idea!

Your friends come to your house to see you, spend time with you, and enjoy your company, and they won’t probably notice the dirty dishes in the kitchen, your child’s toys on the floor, or that your room needs a paint job.

Rev. Jack King adds, hospitality “is not a house inspection, it’s friendship.”

Inviting someone into your home is a high form of trust- it is not about leaving an impression. Hospitality should be about listening and connecting and encouraging, enjoying the fun, peace, and rest.

Therefore, start inviting your friends over more often and try to make them feel comfortable and welcome- that’s all that counts!