Hospitality without Reciprocation

hospitality & reciprocation

Keeping it short here on RE today, friends, because I’m working on my blog (behind the scenes) for a new look! Here’s a sneak peek of my new logo – and tag line. Feast on Life.

New blog design.

I can’t wait to share more – soon! There will be a much easier navagation for finding recipes. Yay.

Sneak peek NEW RE Logo

Touchy hospitality subject.

Here’s a touchy subject to talk about, that I think many of us can relate to.

A person recently shared with me that they entertain quite a bit, but the love is never returned to them.

Which means, reciprocation doesn’t happen, or at least very often.

She told me:

Our problem is that nobody ever wants to return the favor!


Of course resentment kills generosity, if you end up in that place …

Heart check.

We just have to enter into hospitality with the right heart and attitude. We are doing it out of love, generosity, and to get to know people better … It’s not really about us, at all, and it’s really a check that we need to keep in balance. If my mind goes there, I stop myself. I think we’d be better off just canceling a dinner party if we have a poor attitude.

There’s something beautiful about opening your home to others. It’s a lovely, rare moment, that you may never feel or experience again.

It is a gift!

I’d love to hear your tips on keeping a right heart, when you’ve been hurt in this way?


  1. I completely agree with this message!! Same thing for gift giving. Love the new look and logo!! Xo

  2. I just let it go when people don’t reciprocate. We love to have friends over quite often. Some people have never asked us to their house even though they are here a lot. Some friends don’t have the resources one way or another or they are just intimidated about having guests. It’s ok. :)

  3. We have friends that invite us to their house much more often than we return the favor. I REALLY am a reluctant entertainer. I don’t feel comfortable w it for many reasons. One of which is they are much better cooks than me and therefore it’s intimidating. If you’re entertaining to keep track of who returns the favor…you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

  4. We have friends that invite us to their house much more often than we return the favor. I REALLY am a reluctant entertainer. I don’t feel comfortable w it for many reasons. One of which is they are much better cooks than me and therefore it’s intimidating. Yet, we have other friends who are much easier to entertain and I have gotten to the point where I can do that easily. If you’re entertaining to keep track of who returns the favor…you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

    • “If you’re entertaining to keep track of who returns the favor…you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.”

      So totally this ^^

  5. Good Morning! I don’t take it personally when friends don’t reciprocate. Some people just aren’t comfortable hosting dinner parties, even if it’s a small group of friends. My grandmother used to invite family and friends over all the time, so I grew up in a warm and generous atmosphere where big gatherings were the “norm”. Just think about how much joy and love your friends feel when they are invited into your home. Knowing that I’ve made my guests feel special is all the thanks I need:-)

    • Thanks for sharing, Debi. I love those words … warm, generous, atmosphere, big gatherings, love, joy, special. That describes so much of what life should be. Thank you!

  6. When people don’t reciprocate, be it hosting, gifts, or something else, the first thing I do is ask myself what could be going on in their lives that is blocking them from it. For example, is someone dealing with a chronic illness of their own or a family member, that I don’t know about, but takes up a lot of their time? Are they facing financial difficulties and want to reciprocate but truly cannot and are not comfortable explaining?

    Even if the reasons I come up with are completely wrong, it helps open my heart to the possibilities and lets me gracefully move on from a hurt by giving me perspective on the lives others live. Letting someone into your life and home isn’t a guarantee that others must reciprocate, and if you’re doing it because you think it entitles you to their time, you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Once I remember that, I am able to be grateful for the opportunities I have to include others and enrich my own life.

  7. Looks like I’m in the minority here … ;) I love the joy of hospitality, but as an introvert it’s an internal battle every time we host friends – whether it’s a large or small group. When friends don’t reciprocate I don’t worry about the reason, I’m just thankful for the time to retreat back into my shell!

  8. I’ve just really had to learn to not have expectations on others. That I’m inviting people over because I want to be with them and not because I want an invite in return. We are not often invited to other’s homes, and I realize that our lives are busy and many of our friends lives are busy or there is maybe another underlying reason (who knows). I just don’t worry about it and when we are invited I thoroughly enjoy myself :) Two weeks ago when we had snow, our friends who live higher up than we do and have a great sledding hill invited us up for the day. We hardly ever go to their house (the busyness thing) so we took advantage of the invite.

  9. We just got a house a little over a year ago and I’ve discovered I love having people over. I don’t actually care if they reciprocate. Actually, I probably prefer it if they don’t. I have some severe anxiety going on that makes going to someone else’s house difficult, at best. But having them to my house isn’t a problem. Comfort zone, maybe? Whatever it is, as long as I enjoy it I will continue to do it regardless of reciprocation.

  10. We entertain a lot because we enjoy it — however, there was a time when we “felt bad” that very few friends ever reciprocated. We finally came to the realization that many people just don’t care to entertain and that we should not expect a return invite – just do what we want and enjoy it! Jesus believed in the importance of hospitality and so do we, That’s our motivation!

  11. I love to entertain, but reciprocate very little. I am a darn good cook, and a fantastic baker, but we have experienced a lot of set-backs set in motion by the recession. We lost our house, our business, etc. We are slowly re-building, but are nowhere near complete. And so now we have a little house that we’re renting, and it’s shabby and our furniture is shabby and I just feel so inadequate. I know that our friends love us for us, but it’s really, really hard to put all that stuff aside and humble myself. We do have a few people over regularly, but I am extremely hesitant to widen that circle.

    • Understandable, Cathie. We all go through seasons of life. My husband and I lost 3 parents in a few-year period and it was really hard to widen the circle during that time. We were both in pain. Thank you for your honesty and I’m sure your friends understand, too! This season will pass! :)

  12. Sandy, I’m SO excited and anxious to see your new design! Love the sneak peek. VERY true post…. I’ve learned that some folks just aren’t able to host…. it’s not personal, it’s just not their gifting. Or they are in a season of life that’s laced with reasons why they can’t host. Keeping our hearts clean and focused on love is key.

  13. My husband is a minister and we entertain church members a lot. People rarely reciprocate. It is the joy of coming up with a menu, setting the table, and then seeing people happy with the atmosphere and community we have put together that makes it worth while. Sometimes I wish we got more invitations, just so I could see how other people entertain. That is actually one of the reasons I started following your blog…party creeper that I am :-)

    • I think it’s natural to want to be invited, so I’m so glad you were honest about that Colleen. But I love your attitude … joy, menu, setting the table, seeing people happy, community. That is why I love to entertain!

  14. We entertain, or should, because we are opening our hearts and homes to others out of love. I just want my friends to be able to put their feet on my couch- a glass of wine in their hands- and food to nourish their body and soul. That is what we should do without the want of having it returned.

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  16. Guess I may be the only one to sympathize! I entertain bc I love my friends and the invigoration of having new people over. And I have no expectation that those friends having real financial or personal difficulties will be reciprocating any time soon. And I don’t consider entertaining to be a transactional, one for one, tit for tat obligation. HOWEvER, being a good guest also means being a thankful host and there are actually very few reasons not to give back on occasion. Heck, I entertained when I was a cash strapped university student scraping $20 together to have friends over (pasta al I olio, salad and a couple bottles of white, anyone?). Or a few chunks of cheese and crackers? Nachos and beer? I still have lots of friends who entertain like this bc it’s fun and about getting together, not copping out bc you are worried you won’t impress. So yeah, I consider the failure to host – in any way, shape or form – to be abit of a character flaw. But I love ya, and it’s not gonna stop me from having you over. Don’t expect me to not roll my eyes now and again though :)

    • Ha! Thanks, Lisa. You shared many truths in your comment. I think the base fear for people reciprocating is not being good enough, or their house, or cooking. I’m talking generally, not to the people who are in a tough season of life. Fears hold so many back … You’re like me … it’s not going to hold me back from hosting! Thanks for sharing!

  17. My parents always did the “we had them over, now it’s their turn” – their friend base is very small because of it, and it made them kind of bitter. I hate that. I love having people over, so I have people over – I don’t care if they invite us or not. So long as we get to spend time together, it makes me happy. We all have busy lives, so I try my best to have people over every month or so.

    • Patricia, I’m writing a post about this subject, soon. Your comment fits right in. I like what you said, ‘their friend base is very small.’ We’ve seen that, too! Thanks for sharing!

  18. I agree with the posts that say it’s fun to have people over. People who don’t reciprocate the invitation to eat at their place are usually generous with a special bottle of wine or a dessert and flowers. One couple we know is very uncomfortable having people, even family over since she has anxiety issues. We understand that, enjoy their company, so they are always welcome here.

    • I agree, it’s all about understanding and not keeping score. We, too, have many guests who always bring something with them! So nice!

  19. Since moving to a much smaller place, I don’t do as much entertaining. There’s just not much room for too many people. But when I do, I always try to invite the people I love and have no expectations.

    I just want to say Sandy, that I’m loving your new look. :)

    Blessings and love,

  20. I am one of those people that haven’t reciprocated when it comes to entertaining. I love to cook, bake, and I used to love to entertain. We moved to a place that needs work, and I am uncomfortable with inviting people here. We have invited friends to restaurants, but that’s not the same. My husband’s hours have been cut, and I don’t know when we will be able to afford to have people. Sometimes there are other reasons for not reciprocating. I do always feel bad about it though..

    • I’ve written about this subject for 7 years on RE, Marcia, and for sure there are seasons in life! No need to feel bad about it. I have been there several times, too, as most people have. I hope things look up for you, really soon! Thank you for sharing!

  21. My husband and I have been married for 31 years. We have always loved having people in our home, even when we lived in a mobile home in our early married years. We rarely are invited to other people’s homes. It used to bother me, not because I thought the others were being tacky by not reciprocating, but because I wondered if I had said something or done something to offend or hurt their feelings, yet generally things are fine with these people at work, school, church, wherever the connection is. So I set aside my paranoid feelings and said “Oh, well, never mind.” I know that many people feel intimidated about hosting get-togethers at their homes, whether it be just one other couple or an entire party, because they feel inadequate. Maybe their house isn’t nice enough or their furniture is shabby, or this or that. We have purposely signed up to have get-togethers at our house because no one else would. I have opened my home up to 30+ people for Sunday School class get-togethers, thinking if everyone could see how ratty looking my carpet is and yet I still have people over, then maybe just maybe someone will be encouraged. Maybe they’ll realize that their house in comparison is not as bad, or at least no worse, so now that it’s not a competition, then they’ll take that step and open their home up, too. But if they don’t, we’re fine with it. We feel blessed when we have guests, and hope the guests feel blessed to have been here!

    • You have a great attitude toward hospitality, Pam. I hope lots of people will read your comment here, and be inspired! Thank you for sharing!

  22. The heart check that I often have to make is if I’m trying to impress or trying to care and love on those entering my home. My desire is to love on folks who sit at our table, get to know them and feed them well but often times I get caught up in the details. Sometimes the best meals are ones that are simple so I can focus more on the guests or ones that we all make together. Thanks for the thought and inspiration. Blessings to you :)

    • So true about the simple meals, Becky. I have found that to be so true, also. Thanks for sharing, friend! So geat to meet you last weekend.

  23. Sandy, you inspired me years ago when Like Merchant Ships was my go-to blog for encouragement…since then I have become more transparent and hospitable, at one point developing friendship with a couple who later divorced. With openness and love often comes pain. But the old saying that it’s better to have loved than not to have loved at all rings in my head, reminding me that my little world will always remain small unless I’m willing to open up to others.

    My biggest hang-up is that the people I become friends with are opposite to my personality. Although we have a few things in common that keep us bonded, our housekeeping and entertaining styles differ. I feel intimidated by a perfect house…although my friends’ houses really are not perfect, I tend to see my home through theirs and feel so inadequate.

    I am not OCD…unless company is coming. So then the pressure is on, I become grouchy because I didn’t notice the details I should have before, and my family feels the tension. I resent having all the clean-up because I also handled the shopping, planning, meal prep, cooking, cleaning beforehand. Although I enjoy the fellowship with my friends, the kids need attention from time to time…and it all seems like such a hassle. Ironically, some of our best times of entertaining have been on the fly…

    I’ve resorted to having coffee with a friend at a local bistro once a month to get away from the house. Because I homeschool five kids, one graduating this year, I often feel boxed in. Most of my friends homeschool and have their hands full as well…it seems we are entertaining less than ever now. Reciprocation is hoped for but not necessarily expected ;) There’s an understanding that when we are able and it works out for our schedules, we will try to make it happen.

    Your quest to encourage us to entertain is not in vain. I personally need that encouragement because I truly feel it is necessary for our families…we just need some help making it happen. Thank you. Your new format is impressive and easy to navigate. I appreciate your efforts to encourage moms like me :)

    • Angela, there for sure can be pain involved in loving others. It’s happened to me, too. The most important thing for me to learn is to not close my heart toward letting new friends in! Maybe you can get your family involved in helping out so it doesn’t all rest on your shoulders? I think kids should be expected to pitch in … you can make it a family affair! I’m so glad you shared here today!

  24. The saying that comes to mind here is for those who say they are too intimidated or embarrassed to reciprocate hospitality.

    Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

    Thanks to the downturn we live in the shabbiest house with the tightest income we have ever had. Who cares? Yes, it embarrasses me. We may be able to cook a nice dinner, or if time/health don’t permit we order takeout. But even if it’s chips and beer, the point is fellowship. We invite people over and they always say, “next time, it’s our turn!” and then never follow through. I wouldn’t care otherwise, or even worry about reciprocation, but the half-invite that never comes to pass just feels bad.

    Maybe the second part of the spiritual lesson and the right heart is that it’s an opportunity for those who let worry and embarrassment hold them back remember that, and that anyone who seems to be good at hospitality has probably had more practice.

    If you don’t return hospitality because you are embarrassed or intimidated, your friend doesn’t know that and only feels the cold shoulder. Isn’t this worth considering?

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