An Introvert’s Guide to Hospitality

by Penelope Carlevato

INTROVERT: a shy, reticent person; one who gains energy from being alone.

EXTROVERT: an outgoing, overtly expressive person; one who gains energy from being around other people.

There you have it—day and night—black and white. Many captions swirl around in our minds when we hear the word “hospitality.” If you are an introvert, you can want to run and hide rather than invite anyone into your home. However, the Bible teaches all of us to practice hospitality (Titus 1:8, Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:9).

Some of the Scripture verses use the word “entertain.” Our purpose as believers is not to entertain but to be a blessing. Entertaining wants to impress by what we have and our gourmet cooking and always expects a return engagement. Hospitality is being a servant to those God brings across our path. The Bible doesn’t instruct how to decorate or set the table. But both introverts and extroverts can use all the resources God has given us. We can learn from one another. I am a flaming extrovert with a spiritual gift of hospitality. I can pull together a meal quickly, sometimes with little planning, and go with what is in the pantry or freezer. It’s easy for me. I realize this is not how an introvert sees life. So, how does an introvert open the front door and invite people in, plus have the blessing of serving others?

As a young girl, I had the privilege of being the daughter of the Queen of Hospitality. My mum had an open-door policy, and we had visitors around our table probably three to four times a week. It never seemed to be a big deal. Adding a few things to make mealtime special is just as easy as serving a picnic! She taught me that little things make a difference and can make any meal special. Fresh flowers, napkin rings, tablecloths or placemats, and even little place cards can turn a simple meatloaf into a celebration.

In today’s cultural that often seems conflict-focused, it is more important than ever to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading of hospitality. As added pressures and trials invade our lives, our home can be the light on a hill that shares God’s love, grace, and peace with those He brings into our lives. God never expects the introvert to act like an extrovert. I teach everyone from young to mature men and women the Art of Afternoon Tea in all settings, church events, cooking, and college classrooms. I see that familiar deer-in-theheadlights look when we begin the course and start talking about table settings and recipes. The extroverts are excited and plunge ahead, while my quiet friends, the introverts, want to slide under the desk. I have learned that hospitality can challenge the core of who we are and how much we are willing to do for God. Hospitality doesn’t have to be opening the front door of our home. If it’s terrifying for you, invite someone to meet you at a coffee shop or restaurant. Stay calm with not having to fit in with the glossy pictures in Martha Stewart Living magazine.

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

None of us have “arrived” in the hospitality area, and we are encouraged to “practice hospitality,” which means to do it over and over! I have lost count of how many afternoon tea parties I have given. With prayer, we can allow God to use us and our homes in creative ways as a place of refreshment for others.

“He [the Lord] blesses the home of the righteous” (Proverbs 3:33).

My favorite way of sharing hospitality is preparing a traditional English Afternoon Tea. There is a lot of planning and preparation, but many years ago, I thought it would be a wonderful way to share the Christmas spirit in my neighborhood. We lived in a tiny bungalow with lace curtains and a little L-shaped dining area. I walked to each neighbor’s home and gave them a written invitation. Twenty-five invitations! Statistics show that only 10-15% would accept an invitation from someone they didn’t know. Twenty-three

arrived at my front door for our neighborhood’s 1st annual Christmas Tea. Somehow, with God’s smiling grace, we had an amazing time with the gospel shared with all 23 women. Amazing things happened after that tea and the next 12.

This Christmas, I had two different teas so my little house would accommodate everyone.

After that event, I practiced hospitality with the following eight guidelines—they work well for introverts and extroverts.

1. Pray. Ask Jesus for all the details and write them down. Who, What, When, and Where.

2. Pick a theme. A holiday or event is coming up, and you can get some great ideas for your menu and decor.

3. Start small with your guest list and your menu (you can even Invite just two people you know). Make familiar dishes; cook what you love. It could be as simple as a cup of tea and cookies.

4. Keep it simple but add some unique things—maybe fresh flowers. Also, don’t hesitate to use premade food from the grocery store to add to your menu.

5. Prepare in advance. Start with the menu, shopping, cooking, and setting the table. When your guests arrive, you can focus on them, not the fixings.

6. Ask your family for help. Children exposed to hospitality in their homes will most likely practice it later. They might be the perfect co-host.

7. Forget perfection—tidy, but not flawless.

8. Relax, enjoy visiting with your guests, and reward yourself for extending hospitality afterward! A bubble bath or a movie?

You may be a gifted extrovert with many dinner parties or a timid introvert who lacks the confidence to invite a friend to lunch. Still, when we take Scripture’s challenge to practice hospitality, we are showing brotherly love to those God brings our way.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

When cranberries are available in the produce section, I buy several extra bags and put them in the freezer. This dessert is wonderful to serve when the weather is still chilly and great when served with coffee or tea. You can use a cake mix for a quick dessert for your dinner party instead of the cake recipe here, but don’t forget to add the spices.


Preheat oven to 350º F.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan (sides should be at least 2” high or springform pan) or a 9 “square cake pan.


¾ cup packed brown sugar 4 tbsp butter

12-oz. package of fresh cranberries (can be frozen) ½ cup chopped pecans


1 ¾ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon pinch ground cloves

1 stick of butter

1 ½ cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 tbsp orange zest ½ cup Greek yogurt ¼ cup whole milk

In a small pan, place the butter and brown sugar on med heat and stir until butter melted. Mix well until melted then let simmer for 15 seconds. Stir the cranberries into the butter/ sugar mixture, mix well, then pour into prepared cake pan. Whisk together all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl.

In a separate large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the stick of butter until smooth, then add the sugar and beat the sugar and butter until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, then stir in the orange zest

Add the dry ingredients into butter mixture, alternating a third of mixture with the yogurt. Then continue until all dry ingredients are added, and stir in the milk until all is mixed well. Do no over mix.

Pour the batter over the cranberries in the cake pan and smooth out the top of the surface.

Place in preheated oven at 350ºF, then lower to 325ºF for about 55 minutes. The top of the cake should bounce back when pressed down.

Cool the cake just for 10 minutes—no more or the topping will adhere to the pan. Run a knife around the edges of the cake pan then invert the cake onto a cake plate.

Beat 1 cup whipping cream with 2 tbsp powdered sugar and one teaspoon vanilla. Or you can use vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

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