For many people, hospitality is part of their work… if they do it well. I’ve come to realize that creating hospitality through business is an art, and I love seeing it happen…there’s something beautiful about seeing others use their gifting well, and share that with joy. I’ve also realized that there are some ideas The Happy Mixer bakery is using that I can incorporate into my own home!
Recently, I had the opportunity to photograph and write about a Pennsylvania business for Gluten Free Living Magazine. Tim and Lisa welcomed my daughter and me (and I watched them welcome a stream of customers) into their bakery like it was their home. They had cold bottled water waiting after our long drive, and they couldn’t wait to show us around their pretty little bakery.
I think the first thing I noticed about Tim and Lisa is their evident love for each other, which seems to flow over into their baking and onto their customers. They speak to each other with grace while they’re working (Lisa has a full-time job in education, but works alongside Tim as well). They speak kindly to their staff. It sets up a warm atmosphere that’s tangible when you visit. I noticed a few other things during our time with them, as well, that might encourage us all to create real-life-welcome in our home and our workplace.
It seems the simplest thing, but they smile when their guests come in.
Sometimes when you arrive at a business, it feels like it’s “just business,” and you need to get in, buy what you came for, and get moving. But at The Happy Mixer, you really do feel like your “hosts” are happy to have you, and you know what? It makes you want to buy more. 🙂 In the same way,
As we get brave and welcome others into our homes and our lives with joy, we have the opportunity to bless them and maybe even improve their lives… just by making them feel loved.
You feel like you’ve been awaited, and you’re welcomed.
The store is clean and it’s warmly appointed. That may sound strange, but I’m amazed how often we step into a restaurant and the baseboards are dirty, or there’s dust on the light fixtures. (Mom, your making me learn to clean the baseboards didn’t go unnoticed.) It makes you feel like the owners value what they have, and what they offer you as a customer.
In our homes, we don’t have to spend tons of time and money creating magazine-worthy spaces (although, hey, if you have the means, go for it). Instead, a little effort toward a clean space and thoughtful seating, or a warm puddle of light spilling from an inexpensive but well-placed lamp, can tell someone they’re valued as a person.
They’re proud of what they’ve made, for the simple reason that it gives others pleasure.
When we arrived, Lisa showed us the array of baked goods on display in the brightly lit cases, and she bragged on her husband’s hard work and creativity. He in turn told us how she’s so skilled and attentive to customers and to expanding social media reach. I could feel their pride, but it wasn’t saying “oh, I DID THIS; look at me.” It was pride in creating things that give simple pleasure to those who might not otherwise have experienced it. (The Happy Mixer is a gluten-free bakery, and its customers have often not had classic baked goods that were “safe” for them.)
I remember reading years ago for the first time how Edith Schaeffer distinguished “hostessing” from “hospitality”. Hostessing says in essence, “Look at ME! I’m gifted and talented and I’ve created something amazing and worthy of acclaim!” Hospitality invites a guest to come in and become part of a family, a story, a home… to be part of the imperfect, but that which is done in love.
They’re kind to each other, which goes a long way toward creating a haven in an increasingly unkind world.
It’s all too easy to short-change the people I live with everyday (anyone know what I mean here?), in the rush of trying to make a perfect welcome for others. But if I can slow my heart and be gentle with those around me, I set a tone of welcome, whether there will be guests or otherwise. In this way, I can create a bright spot, a “warm place to land,” for anyone who lives in or visits my home.
When we left, our arms were full of decadent (gluten free!) baked goods, and I had the feeling I’d just been to grandma’s house, and she’d loaded me up with sweet treats for the road. And that’s exactly how I hope people will feel when they leave my house. I dare you – open your door, your table, your heart – in its perfectly-imperfect state, and see if you can encourage someone today. Do you own a business? How do you use your work to brighten someone’s life?
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