I’m going to start off by saying that we live a fairly quiet life. My sweet Husband is Autistic and home is his ‘Safe place’ (especially the Garden!) which can make having guests over feel like he’s being invaded and I’m on some pretty heavy painkillers/knock-out-drops (just in-case you haven’t already noticed by my eccentric writing!!) that help me cope with my condition, so we can’t have guests always popping by. However, when we do have the opportunity to have guests or be a guest, we like to show our appreciation! Here’s some Good Cheap ways to do that:
- Clean House! – I’m not talking freshly mopped floors (but that’s great if you can/have time!) but a fresh, uncluttered, bright home is inviting! If you’re expecting someone on short notice, do a speed clean of key areas your guests will see. At the very least, open some windows!
- Bring the Outside In – This is good for being a guest or when receiving. If you have a garden, bring in some seasonal flowers or foliage (we do this very often with our beautiful rose bush) and put it in a small vase or on a surface that your guest will see. When we visit, we take a cutting with Blooms and it’s always received warmly (although, only if we de-thorn them first! OUCH!).
- Use your Gifts – If it’s been a while since we last met, we like to bring our guests something with us from home that we’ve made for our hosts. It’s much cheaper than buying a gift to bring and it ensures that we bring something that will be used! We typically bring Cakes, Homemade Bread, Jam, A surplus of Herbs, Fruits or Vegetables (from the Garden), A Handmade Card, etc.
- Say “Thank You” – We often stay with friends and family around the country for free and although we like to contribute how we can whilst we’re with them, we are often spoilt by their generosity <3. This love is something we can never repay but is something we can be Thankful for, so we often travel with or send after, a little homemade ‘Thank You’ Card.
- Give it Away – Our friends are on a similar journey to us (mostly!) so we often exchange clothes, homewares, cleaning supplies, food, etc. This is so much fun and you both get something new-to-you!
- Look Ahead – I look at the Calendar in the weeks before we’re due to visit, specifically to see if there’s any Birthdays or Anniversaries coming up. I start making cards or gifts in advance so we can hand things over, rather than pay for the cost of posting (postage, wrapping/boxing, etc). This really helps to save money and let’s our Dearest Ones know that we think of them often!
- Lay on a Spread – If we’re expecting guests, I tend to bake the day before – something I know will be a crowd-pleaser or we buy in a nice packet of biscuits (if we’re especially time poor). This doesn’t have to cost the earth, but it’s just a little something sweet for all of us to enjoy (and if there’s any leftovers, my Husband to devour the minute he’s left alone with them)!
- Use the Time Well – Learn from your guests/hosts in the time that you have. Phone calls are expensive (we are on a very basic plan) and many of our friends and family do not live nearby, so when we do meet I often bring an A.O.B (Any Other Business) list, just to make sure I remember to ask about something I want to know more about!
- Guests staying Overnight? – I have read a ton of articles on ‘Making your Guest feel Welcome’ which typically advertise buying an assortment of magazines for their room, mini shower gels and shampoos, redecorating the spare bedroom, buying a new mattress or (at the VERY Least) buying all new guest linens and towels! This is extreme in another way and the only thing we’re interested in is Extreme Frugality! We clean the room the guest is staying in thoroughly, we put freshly laundered linens and towels out and we make sure that they know where to find spares in the bathroom if the shampoo/toilet roll/soap runs out! Oh and we provide a Wi-fi code because we’re nice like that!
- Take the Time to Ask – Is there anything I can pray about for you? Is there something you’d like me to keep my eyes open for? Is there something you need? Can I do anything for you? – I’m not the most physically able nowadays but I’ve found a new way to help by Praying for/with people, helping in small ways by mending clothes, teaching (if you can call it that!) the skills I know like Canning, Budgeting, Extreme Frugality, Knitting, Sewing, Dressmaking, Website Building, etc.
- Meet Digitally – If time/Distance/Budget doesn’t allow for you to meet often, consider meeting online through a free Messenger app like Facebook Messenger or even face-to-face via Google Hangouts. I know this information may not be new to you but it is a good reminder that we can connect for free through our internet connection (and what a revolutionary thing this is!). You can also text, call one-another (if the budget allows) or e-mail. My sweet Grandparents used to e-mail me when I was a teenager in code (really, it was just backwards typing) but it was a lovely way to keep in contact and a good mental exercise!
- Be Present – When you have guests, it’s so easy to be swept up in making the experience a great one for your guests so we always go over-the-top! We just want to show our loved ones how much we appreciate them, but rather than pushing ourselves (which we would then have to ‘out-do’ the next time around!) shouldn’t we just focus on being present? Put down your phone and pick up your ears! Turn to face your guests, actively listen. Make notes if there’s something you’re working on together that you need to remember or action. I always strive to be like Mary (from the Bible Story ‘At the Home of Martha and Mary’ in Luke 10:38-42) who sits and listens to their guest, rather than “being distracted by all the preparations that had to be made”.
- If you have a plan, have a Back-up! – When guests with small Children come for the day, we sometimes plan to go-out somewhere (usually a play-park or for a nature walk). Sometimes, a member of the party is unwell or the weather changes its mind about your plans, so it’s always good to have a back-up plan. Pull out the board-games, watch DVD’s, Bake together, draw pictures, make popcorn – anything you can do together that means you can still enjoy everyone’s company.
- Realise that it’s about Each-Other – At the end of the day, you’re a person visiting with another person. This doesn’t have to cost anything at all, you don’t have to bring anything but yourself and you don’t have to do anything but be present with one-another. Visits don’t have to be all day, they can just be Coffee and a Catch-up for an hour so don’t pile on the pressure. The greatest gift you can give is gift of yourself so don’t worry about arriving empty-handed.
And now a little word on being a good host to tiny, little unexpected guests! Part of living alongside nature is caring for it, not just in cultivating crops or caring for the soil but also in how we care for birds, wildlife and insects. This week, we had a little unexpected guest drop in on us during a terrible Summer Storm.
A Honey Bee (who we quickly named ‘Winston’) had crawled into our Kitchen through a tiny crack in our Window (which was on the latch) and had collapsed on our windowsill. When we found him, he was sprawled out and dying. Thanks to Lee’s quick thinking and affinity with all living things, he delicately picked him up and started to warm him in his hands. We found a wonderful guide to helping Bees at https://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-an-Injured-Honeybee, so whilst Lee was welcoming our guest, I mixed a Sugar/Water solution on a plate and we watched Winston shakily crawl over to it and start drinking.
After a while, he regained some strength and started crawling all over Lee and I. His light little body was all fuzzy and soft and it tickled when he walked! He was still very shaky and kept falling over but he rested periodically and got stronger. It was starting to get dark when we tried to put him out the first time. Lee walked him into the Garden during a dry-spell but Winston cowered back and wouldn’t fly away. We had read that sometimes Bees will fly indoors to find a quiet place to pass away so we were worried that we might lose him. As soon as Lee brought him back in, the heavens opened and it was chucking it down – Winston could sense that it wasn’t safe to fly!
This time the rain stayed with us so we decided it would be best for Winston to stay for a Sleepover and we’d try again in the morning. We read about making him a little temporary accommodation, so we used some tupperware that Lee has his Dinners in for work, we filled a jar lid with more of the sugar/water solution, Lee fetched some flowers from the garden and I swept some soil from around the houseplants for him. When we popped him in, he fell straight into the sugar/water pool and started buzzing angrily! He wasn’t walking up to drink anything from the pool so we dipped the flowers into the solution which he loved! Before bed, we had a quick Pray over him and hoped he would be there to greet us in the morning.
Lee got up first thing to check on him and Thank God, Winston had thrived overnight. The storm was still hanging around but after breakfast, the sun came out and we decided to let Winston try again. We noticed that there were other Bees out, buzzing around some of the late Summer flowers we have at the top of the garden, so Lee took him up to be with them.
Winston took his time but soon realised it was safe to go. He shakily took flight and hovered next to Lee. Other Bees came to say Hello and they flew circles around him! We watched them flying together and eventually he took off with his friends and flew away into the sunset (not really, but you get the picture!).
Here’s the Moral to the story – give of yourself what you can and when you can. Your home, garden, talents, skills, abilities are all extensions of you. It costs little to nothing to show Hospitality but the impact it can have on someone (big or small) can be life-changing.
We hope that you’re all having a Good and “Good Cheap” week! As we approach the end of the month, we’ll be doing a round up of our Successes and Failures because a little of both is what life’s about! Keep a look out for the article or ‘Like’, Follow or Subscribe to the Blog to be kept updated (as non-invasively as possible)!