Special Touches – Use All 5 Senses

a couple of years ago

cherries as special touches five sensesThe Bible commands that Christians be “given to hospitality.”  When you prepare your home for guests, add special touches, incorporating all five senses. Take a moment to put forth this little bit of effort, and make your home inviting to visitors. Don’t just attempt to “pick up the house” or shove stuff in a closet.

Why is such a command in the Bible? Being welcoming and hospitable shows others the difference Jesus has made in our hearts. It shows that our love for people is genuine.

“By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).


Give Your Best, Give Your All

Opening your home, heart, and life shows others that they are more important than yourself. Do you realize most of the early New Testament churches met in houses? Most preaching was done around a dinner table, rather than in an auditorium. Today, your testimony speaks to both saved and lost alike. It talks louder in intimate, everyday settings rather than once-a-week encounters in a place where good behavior is expected. I’m not saying that church isn’t important or that visitors shouldn’t feel welcome there too. You cannot underestimate the importance of opening your home in order to touch another heart. Shouldn’t we give it our greatest effort for the sake of the Gospel? It’s bigger than just having a nice smelling home. Paying attention to the special touches is really all about the Gospel; whether for Christian fellowship or to win someone to Christ!

Hospitality 101: It’s Those Special Touches

The summer before I went to college, I worked at a local photography studio — for six whole days. Before the question of “why the short-term tenure?” arises in your mind, be at ease my friends. The lady I was hired to replace decided not to retire after all, leaving me jobless. However, my time there was not in vain. I was taught how to bubble wrap portraits, trim edges on wallet-sized prints, and stick thousands of address labels onto senior session flyers. Okay, it was boring grunt work. I never got to actually do any photography like I had imagined. Albeit, I did get to see the inner workings of how to run a successful business when I sat in on team meetings.

One particular morning meeting, the owner went over some information she had picked up at a photography seminar. She wanted us to start implementing this method in the studio to make a more pleasant experience for the clients. I was intrigued by the concept and tucked it away for future reference, not as a business owner, but as a future homemaker.

The basic concept is this: greet your guest with all five senses. The more senses you involve during first impressions, the greater the impact. Using the five senses to your advantage will ensure their happiness, quality of stay, and possible return. If a secular business goes to such great lengths to offer comfort to a customer, shouldn’t Christians make such an effort with all who enter our homes, churches, and lives?


Sense of Sight

The most obvious of the five senses we give attention to is the sense of sight. No one wants to come over to a house that looks like a tornado just blew through! Here are some easy tips to engage the sense of sight:cherry bowl as a special touch

  • Tidy up! Even though the phrase, “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” isn’t found in the Bible, it’s still good to be clean. A nasty house is an uninviting house.
  • Clean the little areas: toothpaste spit in the sink, crumbs under the table, little hand prints on the door.
  • Add a touch of color with a vase of fresh flowers.
  • Create a warm welcome by lamplight or candlelight.
  • Put nice family photos in your frames. Don’t leave them empty, or even worse, leave the fake Walmart family photo that came in the frame.
  • Try not to have the TV on or running when guests arrive. It makes them feel secondary and it’s distracting. Of course, this does not apply if you invited them over to watch the game or for movie night.

Sense of Smell

The sense of smell make or break the deal. Guests can be welcomed or turned off just by a smell. You know when you smell furniture polish and cookies, it takes your mind back to memories of Grandma’s house. She knew how to create those special touches, with the aroma of chocolate chip cookies. What will you be remembered for?

  • Have a candle or a plug-in close to the front door so it becomes their initial smell.
  • Take all the trash bags out before they arrive.
  • Have some coffee brewing, or be finishing the last few touches of cooking as they come in.
  • Garlic is nice but don’t get crazy. The same goes for onions and grease. No one wants to leave your house with clothes that smell like their dinner.

Sense of Sound

I’ve come to realize that your tolerance to sound (or noise) has a lot to do with your upbringing. I grew up as an only child in a quiet household. When I got married, I realized my husband and his three brothers wrestling in the living room created quite a bit of sound. There is an appropriate time for both quiet and loud, happy noises. 

  • Avoid both extremes when your guests come over: yelling over the loud music, or listening to crickets in the silence.
  • Turn on a relaxing instrumental CD or playlist to help your guests feel relaxed and at home.
  • Instrumental music is not as distracting as music with lyrics. It doesn’t impede on your dinner conversation.
  • Don’t have your dryer or dishwasher running when dinner guests arrive.
  • Provide a fan for white noise in the guest bedroom if they need it to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings.

Sense of Touch

The sense of touch might be harder to consider, but definitely worth it. Special touches can be comforting and soothing, which is why they play a big part in hospitality.

  • Pay attention to anything your guest might touch (the counter-tops, the couch, etc.). Does it feel grimy, sticky, dirty, or hairy? These are the nasty “special touches” you want to be concerned about
  • Greet with a hug or handshake. This breaks the ice during their initial impression and immediately establishes a welcoming presence.
  • Throw a soft pillow or blanket on the couch or across the bed in the guest room.
  • Always give them freshly laundered towels or towelettes to wipe their face in the guest bathroom.

Sense of Taste

food as a special touchThe sense of taste is everybody’s favorite of the five senses. Right? This is likely what your guest will remember the most vividly. As the founder of Chick-Fil-A says, “Food is necessary for life; therefore, make it good.” I’ll Amen that!

  • Add special touches by placing your guest’s favorite snacks or some bottled water in their room.
  • See if anyone has special food allergies or dislikes and try to accommodate the best you can.
  • Play it safe and stick with a tried and true recipe when guests are over. It may not be wise to try something you’ve never had yourself.
  • Let them add salt or spice to their liking. Preferences are different and you don’t want them suffering through an overly-spiced meal.
  • Always make enough food. It is better to have leftovers , rather than have them leave hungry.


Unexpected Guests? Read our tips on Cleaning in a Hurry.


What are some of the special things you do for you guests?  Comment below and share your ideas with us and others.

Hannah Schmutzler

About the Author

Hannah Schmutzler

Hannah and her husband Cameron are currently on deputation, raising support so they can begin full-time missionary work in Mongolia. She juggles the demands of traveling with those of a toddler and keeps a sweet spirit through it all. Hannah has authored two books in addition to her writing for the Submissive Spirit. She also blesses us with her beautiful voice.

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