Mother's Day can be a joyful day for some women and for others a time when personal loss is felt more acutely. I encourage you to take time on Mother's Day to honor and celebrate some of the special women in your life.Read More
It is so easy to grow spring grass and is great to use as a table decoration. You can celebrate Spring or for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, you can have your last Summer fling with a fun grassy table. This also works perfectly for an Easter table setting as you can place eggs or lambs on the grassRead More
An attractive table makes a big difference to any occasion and does not need to cost a lot or take much time to set. I am sharing some basic tips in this blog that I hope will encourage you to have fun setting the table more often.
1. Remember that the goal is to create a “prepared place” into which your family and guests are invited. At your table they will be able to relax, share their hearts and enjoy being together.
2. Bless your family first. Don’t just use your tablecloth and add flowers when you have guests coming. Honor your family with a well-set table on a regular basis and involve your children in the preparation too. Your example will help equip them for when they can host around their own tables.
3. Start with a simple table set up and then once you feel confident setting that, you can add more details to the table. See the Simple. Special, Spectacular blog.
4. One of my Heartistry Mottos is, “Always set the table first”. Even if you have not finished preparing the meal by the time your guests arrive, they will feel your welcome if they see the table ready and waiting for them.
5. Initially plan around one color scheme so that it is easy to coordinate your supplies. White is obviously a great choice and then you can accent with different colors.
6. When I am hosting a large group, or preparing a more complex and time consuming meal such as Thanksgiving, I set the table the day before so that I have one less thing to do on the actual day.
7. Choose the right size table for the size of your group. You want to make sure that people can see and hear each other. If you have a long table, and are serving a meal for a small group, set the table at one end and put flowers and food on the other end so that it still feels cozy.
8. There are different types of tables that can be used. I have used an old door, table tennis (ping pong) table, card table, fold out banquet table, and even had people sit on the floor around a low table for a Middle Eastern meal.
9. Lighting makes a big difference to the atmosphere. Add candles, little tea lights, small LED lights (my favorites), or bring a lamp from somewhere in your home and include that in your table décor.
10. Adding height adds interest to the table. Make sure that people can easily see over anything that you place in the middle of the table. This seems obvious, but I have been to events where a large flower arrangement blocked the view completely. Put a book or little box under your flower arrangement or candles to add height.
Please share your thoughts and tips on setting a simple table in the comments section below. Click on Share below and your can share this to your Facebook Page. Thanks!
Many people are so busy nowadays and are struggling to keep up with their crazy schedule that family meal times are rushed and infrequent, if they happen at all. Gathering at the table is one of the most powerful things you can ever do with your family. Your own experience may have been good, or troubled, but you now have the opportunity to start this impactful practice with your own family. Here are 18 reasons why!Read More
I think I’ve begun to learn over the past several years that when I am the guest, when I put my feet under someone else’s table, ceding power to them, and graciously and gratefully receiving what they serve to me - this is also a huge part of hospitality;Read More
Do you want to grow in sharing your heart and home with others? Need inspiration and instruction? Last week I shared my TOP TEN TIPS "live" on my Heartistry-Art of Welcome Facebook page. I have posted these ten 10 minute long sessions here, so that you can also watch these mini-sessions. Obviously it is hard to condense all the teachings into such short videos, but I am sure you will learn something!
Tip One- Learn by Doing
I encourage us to begin the journey. We activate the heart by action! In this video I set the stage for what we will be learning in the next ten sessions. I encourage you to sign up for our Heartistry Newsletters so that you can get more information from me from time to time.
Tip Two- Start Small
I share a true story that has motivated and touched me deeply as I have learned how to live more generously. Hospitality has a big impact on our families and the lives of other people too. It doesn't take much to be able to help someone know that they are loved and have value.
Tip Three- Bless not Impress™
What is the heart of true hospitality? I share one of our Heartistry mottos which is, "Bless not Impress™. In this video I speak about the difference between ENTERTAINING and HOSPITALITY and how we can overcome the obstacles to offering heartfelt hospitality.
Tip Four- Set a Tray Today
Set a Tray Today! I share a personal story of how I set a tray and the impact that it has on my friend. I demonstrate how to set a tray to show how quickly it can be done! I encourage everyone to set a tray and to send a photo to us, so that we can all the inspired. Why don't you do the same? Send it to Lyn@Heartistry.info.
Tip 5- The More before, the less the Stress™
In Tip Five, I share about preparing our hearts and our homes for hospitality as we learn the motto, The More before, the Less the Stress™. We discuss what prevents us from offering hospitality and what the real purpose of hospitality is. I show some of my special hospitality items.
Tip Six-Set the Table First
I love this tip. Set the Table First! There is great power in the Prepared Place. Inviting people into your home when the table is set will help them feel truly welcomed. I shared my tips and also about my new e-booklet that is coming soon! Exciting! It will be free for those who sign up for our Heartistry newsletters!
Tip Seven- Take Short-cuts
If we are going to continue to offer hospitality without getting burned out, we need to make it as easy as possible. I share some of my best tips for saving time as we prepare the table and the meal. I set a Valentine's Day tray to show how quickly one can make something pretty to share with a friend. I encourage everyone to sign up for our newsletters so that they can receive my 10 Simple Tips for Setting the Table e-booklet! It will be free for those who sign up for our Heartistry newsletters!
Tip Eight-Ask for help
In Tip Eight I encourage everyone to ask for help when offering hospitality. It can be easier at times to do everything ourselves, but if we want to be able to continue offering hospitality, we need to not try and do it all. We also train others (especially our children) but encouraging them to work alongside us.
Tip Nine- Be a Hub person
Offering hospitality can be sacrificial. It costs, money, time, effort and more. And yet the rewards are great. I encourage us to be the ones who reach out to others. "Hub" people gather and convene friends, family or even communities of people. I also share my favorite hospitality item, a cake stand! (More accurately, I share a number of cake stands with you!)
Tip Ten-Just Start- Open your Heart
In our final mini-session, I review what we have learned and encourage us all to start offering hospitality. I share from my passion and remind us all of the power and purpose of true hospitality. I would love to hear from you if you have finished watching all ten videos, so please email me at Lyn@Heartistry.info and share what you learned. I would also love you the comment here on the blog. Thanks so much!
Are you living in a cold, snowy area? Or is it so hot at your home that you would love to imagine yourself on a winter's vacation? Follow the instructions in the video and set a fun winter wonderland table. Prepare a simple meal of soup or baked potatoes, dim the lights and have a memorable evening around the table!
Use a white table cloth or sheet as your base and then add white plates. If you don't own white plates, I recommend that you buy a set of inexpensive, plain white plates as they provide so much versatility for so many table settings and seasonal meals. Add silverware, glasses and white napkins/serviettes. If you have small tea light candles, add some of those to the table setting as well.
Add table salt to a plate or cake stand (did I mention how much I LOVE cake stands?) You can also use a glass bowl or fish bowl (take the fish out first!) Add a small decorative item from around your home and some greenery. If you have a glass vase large enough, turn it upside down and cover your "scene". I added a string of little while lights and hid the batteries under the salt (I wrapped the mechanism in paper first.) These little white lights are one of my favorite items to use and I travel with them in my suitcase (crazy I know!) Their delicate beauty can turn even an ordinary meal into a celebration! You can purchase the lights at hardware stores and online. Look for battery operated LED lights with wire (not plastic).
Keep the food simple. When you have a special table setting, people barely notice the food (this is my saving grace!) Bake potatoes and serve them with sour cream, cheese, green onions and broccoli (think of this as the touch of greenery in your winter scene). Or make a big pot of soup and serve it with crusty bread. If you are having fun setting the table, just use store bought soup. No-one will even notice!
Dim the lights, play some music, gather around the table and enjoy a memorable meal!
In the midst of the busyness of the everyday, we need to be intentional about creating memories and adding celebration to our lives. An excellent way to do this is to plan for a special "Memorable Meal" each month. Then gather with family and friends. You can reach out by inviting neighbors or even strangers to join you.
Do you need some help, tips and encouragement to do this? This is what Heartistry is all about! We are excited to share ideas with you in our newsletters.
It is almost New Year's Eve and you don't have any plans. Why not invite a few friends, neighbors or even strangers over for a potluck dinner. Set a quick celebratory table and you are all set! This simple table setting works for New Year's Eve or any other special occasion using supplies you can find around your home! Easy and festive! Check out Lyn's video and be inspired to open your home. Happy New Year!Read More
Fall is a great time of year to gather family and friends around your table. I would like to encourage you to host a supper in October. Do you want your event to be Simple, Special or Spectacular? This will depend on your experience, the time you have allotted to prep for the meal and what the occasion is. Read on for instructions on how to prepare a delicious meal and a fall themed table that fits your needs perfectly!Read More
American Independence Day is a great time to gather with family and friends for a celebration. July 4 is a perfect time to offer hospitality to your family, friends, neighbors and even those people you don't yet know.Read More
When you hear the word hospitality, what do you think of? The hotel industry? A fancy meal requiring a lot of work? Women folding napkins? Hospitality is so much more than this. We need a new word to capture the power and potency of this impactful practice. Or we need to have an understanding that hospitality goes way beyond just a meal. True hospitality is Generous Living.Read More
Last October my father passed away after two weeks in the hospital. For my 86-year old mom, my sister and I, those were the longest two weeks of our lives. We slept in our clothes, drove a distance to the hospital each day and made countless excruciatingly hard decisions as we waited to see if my dad would regain consciousness after his stroke.
Each person copes with stress and grief differently, but the ways that family and friends supported us during this very tough season helped us tremendously. I have learned a lot through being the recipient of so much kindness which I hope to implement when friends are going through similar trials. Maybe what helped us, will give some guidance as you care for others.Read More
Sometimes doing something small and loving is just what we need.
These days I dread looking at my Facebook feed. I am trying to cope with my own life and the personal and family issues at hand that can weigh me down. I hardly know how to deal with all the sorrow, tension, distress and division that fill my social media streams.
I don’t want to withdraw and close my heart to the needs all around me. What can I do to make a difference? How can I use what I have in my hand?
I practice and teach on hospitality. How could generous living and hospitality make a difference?
Many people are voicing the problems around us. I do believe that building awareness of needs is important and as we do small and loving actions, we make an even greater impact.
Some of my thoughts:
- Plan small intentional acts of love~ they're more likely to happen than if they're random!
- Everyone carries a load~ come alongside others and help carry the burden, even for a short while.
- Words have power~ say or write something kind to someone today. (Read 10 Tips to Write a Meaningful Affirmation)
- Build committed long term friendships~ pass the “string” of regular loving interactions back and forth until you build a strong cord. You may need it one day to cross a deep ravine. (Read The Fabric of Friendship)
- Don’t try and cope alone~ we all need community to strengthen us so we can each do our own part. Especially during times of difficulty. Gather don't hide.
- Think of communities as wheels. Every wheel needs a hub. Be the person that puts in the effort to bring others together. It is not always fun to be the one calling, inviting, planning, cooking, paying etc., but it is a key role.
- Don’t pass on “problems that need to be solved” in a broad and generic way. Share personal causes and invite support; pass on other relevant information in a targeted way. Give specific action steps.
- Understand the way you engage~ if a “sprinter” then focus on an immediate task requiring intense effort in the short term; if a “marathon runner” then chose a big societal challenge and plan to be involved in a steady way for years to come.
Many people are scared and confused right now. When alone, these fears are worse. Spend time with others. Invite people over and practice hospitality. Sign up to receive the Heartistry newsletters to get inspiration and instructions on how to open your heart and home.
Light always dispels darkness. Share truth. Hold onto hope. Love well. Pray often.
Read 17 Ways to Live Generously in 2017 for more inspiration.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Please pass on this blog to friends by clicking the SHARE button. (Another way to do a small and loving act!)
My twin sister and I hosted a garden party for our mom's 85th birthday. My mom and her friends just loved it and we had so much fun preparing for it. I am sharing this so you can use it as a template to host a garden party yourself! We split the tasks according to what we do best. I planned, shopped and set the table and my sister baked and did the flower arrangements. (Which jobs would you prefer?!) Now to share my best tips!Read More
I grew up near the sea and now after 30 years have returned to South Africa for a season and am once more going to sleep at night to the sound of waves. A nautical theme is one that I plan to use often as I set a table with the beach in the background. I have collected some nautical napkins to be prepared!
Recently I visited my parents at their lake cottage in Connecticut, USA. I quietly unpacked my nautical napkins and scarf from my carry-on luggage and set a surprise tray for them (crazy to carry items like this I know, but it was fun!)
Later I picked some wild flowers from the garden and added an old navigation lamp that my dad had used on one of his sailing boats for a simple lunch table. I treasure every moment that I can spend with my parents and am so thankful that I can visit them on a regular basis even though I live far away from them. I took this photo of us holding hands as my mom said grace before our meal and prayed for the family spread around the world.
P.S. The exquisite wooden sculling canoe was built by my dad. Isn't it so beautiful?
I love using a theme to set a table. It makes it so much quicker and simpler. Read my blog on How to Use a Theme to Set a Table and 10 Tips on Choosing a Theme for Setting a Table for more helpful tips.
One of our Heartistry readers and a dear friend, Diana Candee, sent me a couple of photos. A friend of Diana's was visiting her from out of town and they were planning to have a tea together with local friends. As they shopped for items for the table, they spontaneously decided to match what the guest of honor was wearing and went for a blue and white theme. And they ended up with a pretty nautical table setting! Just in time for me to add them to my blog! Thanks Diana!
I would love to see photos of your table settings, so please share them with me!
If you haven't signed up to receive my newsletters, please do so and then you won't miss any future blogposts. And please SHARE our Heartistry site with your friends. You can click the SHARE button below to forward this blog with others. Easy sailing!
After 30 years of living in California, my husband and I moved back to Cape Town for a more extended visit than our usual two to three week stays. Packing up our apartment, saying our goodbyes and traveling half way across the globe was both physically and emotionally tiring.
What a difference it made to receive such a warm welcome when we arrived in Cape Town!
If you have guests coming to stay at your home, check out our blog, 10 Simple Ways to Make Staying Guests Feel at Home.
When you are welcoming someone who is making a big move such as coming to study in your town, or relocating from another country, there are simple ways in which you can help make this large transition easier for your friend (or a stranger that you wish to help).
Here are some of my thoughts. Please add yours in the comments below. I would love to hear how you have received welcome from others or what you have done to make others feel at home when they have been visiting you.
Anticipate their arrival and ask if there is anything you can do in advance of their arrival such as arranging a crib/cot for a baby.
If they are initially staying at your home, place a small card and welcome gift on their bed. Even a chocolate on the pillow will say, "You were expected" and preparation was made for your arrival.
If possible, meet people at the airport even if they are renting a car. It is very comforting to see familiar faces in the crowd when you arrive at a new place. This is especially helpful when coming to a new country for the first time.
Stock some basic groceries in their fridge if you have the ability to get into their home, or bring some in a cooler to give to them. Heading to the grocery store after a long journey is not that easy and can be very confusing if you are a foreigner. I remember having a splitting headache after my first grocery shopping trip in the USA. How could there be so many different types of peanut butter?!
Draw a small amount of cash and give it to them in an envelope if they are coming from another country. This can help if they need to get a quick cup of coffee or pay for parking.
Bring a cooked meal that they can warm quickly. Only stay and eat with them if they press you to do so. They may need some peace and quiet and an early night. (My friend Kerry brought a home cooked chicken pie and salad for supper when we arrived in Cape Town. It was delicious and later other friends stopped by with meals for us.
Share some basic information on the immediate neighborhood with advice on good places to shop and eat.
Flowers brighten a room and make a house feel like home. Add a card or note with a personal and affirming message to make the gift even more meaningful.
Check in with them a few days after they have arrived to say if they need anything else. It can take a few days for people to catch their breath and then start to feel a little homesick or disoriented.
A little something extra:
My husband rented a condo in Cape Town for us to stay in for 6 months, sight unseen. He found it on the internet and after a friend checked it out, we made a plan to rent it. I didn't even know what was going to be in the cupboards etc. When we arrived in Cape Town, it was quite an adventure to walk in to the condo in person!
The first thing that struck us was the amazing view from our window!
And then I noticed that the only chintz plate (a type of china that I collect) on the wall matched the only piece of chintz I own that is in South Africa- a teapot I bought at an antique store! The painting on the wall done by the landlady matched a table cloth that I painted to use while in South Africa and the beaded flowers matched two that I own! The cushions matched my little protea themed bowls. It makes me think that this is exactly the place that we are meant to be living in during this season! What do you think? (Check out the photos!)
Many people around the world are traveling and moving to new places. Some are making these journeys by choice and others are being forced to move due to dire circumstances. As we all learn to practice generous living and true hospitality (the goal of Heartistry is to encourage this!), let us look out for opportunities to provide a warm welcome to those that need it most.
And you never know when you will be a recipient, just the way that I currently am!
Please sign up to receive our newsletters so that you will be kept in the loop and receive notifications when I post a new blog. Thanks.
You can SHARE this post by clicking the Share button below. I would love to hear how you have either experienced welcome yourself or been able to welcome others in the COMMENTS below.
Do you want to learn how to set a beautiful table? Want it to be quick and easy to do?
Using a theme for your table setting can both simplify it and make it look more attractive and coordinated. Check out this video on using a theme to set a table and this blogpost for more information.
You can use these helpful tips to get going:
1. Walk around your home and look for items that match e.g. Do you have a vase with roses painted on it and a small painting of roses? These could be grouped together for a pretty setting. I love cherries and have had fun setting a table using fresh (or artificial cherries) and beautiful cherry napkins/serviettes and more related items.
2. Do you have a hobby or special interest? Use some of these items to decorate your table. My husband Brett Johnson has written a book called Lemon Leadership. Consequently we have lots of lemon items!
3. Is there one color that you love and use a lot in your home? A friend has a home at the beach and decorates a lot with blue and white, so this would be a good place to start.
4. Are you about to celebrate a holiday? Begin by choosing a few items for Thanksgiving, Christmas, July 4th or Valentine's Day.
5. Begin with a seasonable table and add some items for fall or spring. Fall items work well for Thanksgiving too (if you live in the USA).
6. Do you have a special or heirloom tablecloth? Use that as your base and add a few items that would tie in well. The protea is the national flower of South Africa. I painted this cloth to use for the first Heartistry Experience in South Africa.
7. Beautiful napkins and serviettes can serve as inspiration. Build your theme from there. Check out the blog on 10 Uses for Napkins.
8. Is there a theme for your party? Build your table around the theme such as travel items for a Bon Voyage party. We celebrated my mom's 85th birthday with a Garden Party which my twin sister and I hosted in her garden. We used a flower theme and had adorable mini hat cakes as one of the desserts.
9. Is there a "message" you are trying to share? I used globes and napkins with a world map on them when we had a dinner focussed on the impact guests could have on the world through their lives and businesses.
10. If all of the above suggestions seem too much, just start with a few white items. They can be used for any occasion and will be a great base for your table setting adventures!
There are many other articles and videos that will give you further inspiration and instruction, so check out our blog and Youtube channel.
Please SHARE this blogpost with your friends. I love to hear your comments, so please share what themes you use for your table settings in the comments section below.
Don't want to miss out on future posts like these? Sign up for our newsletters and receive notifications when there is a new blogpost. You won't be spammed, I promise you!
Decorating a table can be such fun and yet many people feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start. Using a theme is a great way to make setting a beautiful table simpler and more affordable. By having some special items on hand that all match and work well together, it takes away the guesswork and saves time.
I love to use different themes and have quite a few (some would say many!) collections that I use for my table settings. In the video I share how to use a bird theme to set a beautiful tray or table.
How to Begin:
- Start with basic white crockery and a white table cloth.
- Over time add a few items that fit your theme.
- Theses items can be clustered on the middle of the table, displayed on a buffet table or added to a tray to make a very special treat for someone.
- Having a theme takes the guesswork out of setting a table and saves time.
- The items on the table coordinate with each other and make a fun and creative setting.
For more ideas and inspiration, check out the blogpost:
Please SHARE this blogpost with your friends and encourage them to sign up to receive our newsletters.
The world needs people who will step out in radical generosity. This is not easy and challenges us to the core of who we are.
What prevents us from reaching out?
- Are our lives too busy for authentic, relational involvement and loving care?
- Does the sorrow of the broken world in which we live loom so large that it paralyses us, preventing us from even doing something small?
- Are we trying to protect our families and ourselves and thus have no time, energy or compassion for those outside the walls?
Many of us do want to help but may not know how. In this re-post from last year, I address the sensitive issue of our penchant towards being self-focused. I also have suggestions in the blog on ways in which we can offer hospitality as a positive and practical way to help such as Why Set a Table When the World is Hurting
Here are 10 ways in which we can tame or at least tie up the self-centered parts of ourselves as we seek to grow in generosity!
- Deny ourselves something we want for a day or week or even for a month so that we can feel some of the loss others face daily
- Stretch ourselves to try something new and uncomfortable that will grow our capacity to serve others
- Feel the sorrow of the suffering and not rush to switch the channel or change the subject. Spend time in prayer for those in need
- Reduce the time and money we spend on entertainment to give margin to care for someone else
- Give away something new and attractive not just the old and worn out items we own
- Exercise our “generosity muscle” by intentionally giving beyond what we would normally give
- Document how we would want to be treated and helped if we were in someone else's position. Take one action step towards making that a reality
- Support someone who is able to do more than we can do because they are in the right geographical proximity or have the required skills
- Read about people who are radically generous as this will inspire us to step out and do the same
- Start small rather than waiting until we can work out the big plan we have in mind
Please sign up to receive notifications of future blogposts. We will be providing encouraging and inspiring information to help us grow in generosity and hospitality.
I ask myself how I can post photos of pretty table settings when there is so much tragedy, sadness and conflict in the world today.
Am I being trivial and insensitive to blog about people gathering around the table during such a dark time?
The USA is struggling with deep racial tension and the tragic deaths that have resulted from it. South Africans are approaching local elections and are disturbed by the lack of honest and ethical leadership in the country. Other nations reel with terrorist attacks and more.
And I encourage people to practice hospitality.
I have a passion to help us all live generous, hospitable, welcoming lives
I believe that truly getting to know people builds bridges of understanding and trust
I know that gathering around the table is one of the best ways to connect deeply with others
I understand that we are all naturally self-focussed and it is hard to move out of our safe places
I have experienced that motivation can come through the carrot or stick; through desire or guilt
I hope to use beauty and creativity to cast a vision and inspire us to invite others into our lives
I want to equip us with the skills to host others, so we can open our hearts and homes
I believe that we each need to use what we have in our hands to make a difference in the world.
When we are overwhelmed by big problems, we can begin by seeing what ONE thing we can do.
Each one of us can reach out and invite a "stranger" or "foreigner" or someone who is different to our "table". That may mean asking a work colleague we don't know well to have coffee with us in the cafeteria, a neighbor to join us for a simple supper or inviting a foreigner in our community to share a meal with our family.
We have to reach out and take the risk of connecting with those outside our friend circle. Major issues like racial inequality and hatred are not solved by policies. There needs to be a change in all our hearts. We need to learn to love. And the table is one of the best places to start.
Set a table today. Invite someone to join you. Start the conversation. Listen well. Share your heart. Repeat.
Thank you for reading my thoughts and hearing my heart. Lyn
Please share your comments below. I would love to know what you have experienced around the table as you have opened your life to others.