Welcome back to another episode of the Cynthia L Simmons podcast! In today’s episode, we have a special guest, DeAnna Kane, the founder of the online magazine, The Heart of Hospitality. Join Cynthia as she dives into a conversation with DeAnna who explained unlocking the power of hospitality. They discuss the excitement of creating connections, the joy of celebrating women, and even explore the concept of “fast-food hospitality”. You won’t want to miss this inspiring and insightful conversation about creating community and meaningful relationships. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready to be inspired to extend hospitality in your life. Let’s dive in!
Cynthia: My mother was very good at hospitality, and I watched her for years. After I got married, I suddenly realized that it would be up to me to do hospitality, and I felt a little intimidated. And of course, then I felt a little insecure when I thought about how I was a newlywed and didn’t have as many pretty things and my apartment wasn’t as fancy as some people. And finally, I heard someone say this little phrase, and it stuck in my mind: hospitality before pride. And I thought, that’s what I need to think about every time somebody comes over.
And so, I try my best to make them feel special and just have people over and be a good hostess. Well, today we’re going to talk about hospitality with DeAnna Kane, and she is the one who started this magazine called The Heart of Hospitality, which is an online magazine. She apparently loves it. Her magazine is gorgeous, and gives tips on unlocking the power of hospitality. Welcome, DeAnna.
DeAnna: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Cynthia: Can you tell us why you started a magazine? Because, I mean, hospitality is one thing, but a magazine? Oh, my goodness. That’s another thing. So, what is it that you had in mind when you did that?
DeAnna: Sure. I do have a business partner. Her name is Leslie, and she started a women’s ministry. I’ve known her for about 30 years. She’s my pastor’s wife, and so we’ve been longtime friends. And she started a women’s ministry about 25 years ago called Mona Mi, which means my friend in French. It was about connecting with women in the church when you just don’t have enough time to meet somebody in the foyer.
You say, “Hi, how are you?”
She replies, “Oh, I’m fine.”
And then you find out that marriages are falling apart. Kids are losing their way. They’re losing their jobs, their homes. Leslie kept thinking, well, why don’t we know about this stuff going on? So, she started this ministry called Mona mi, which is about extending hospitality, and that’s kind of what the basis of the church was.
We all realized that in the Bible Jesus always broke bread and then gave the Word. He created a relationship before he gave the Word. It lays a foundation for creating a relationship and a connection with people.
I’ve had a lot of experience in event planning, so I’ve done very large events with conferences, women’s conferences, and just all types of events back and forth. And so, when she and her husband Mark were moving to California, we were trying to figure out ways of how we were going to extend our church. We always come back to hospitality because that’s just what we do.
So that’s just one of the things that’s kind of ingrained in both of our DNA. And we’re also hospitality experts and they kind of go hand in hand. So, one day we were just kind of shooting the breeze and I just kind of threw it out there and I said, “Hey, what do you think about putting a magazine together?”
And she said, “Oh, my gosh, that sounds like a great idea. It’s always been my dream.”
I said, “Great.”
And she said, “Well, how do we do it?”
I said, “I don’t know.”
And she goes, “Well, how do we get started?”
I said, “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out.”
That was kind of how it happened. We have this decade of information kind of welled up in our brains. It’s not necessarily just big events, but it’s really creating that connection and that community with the people around you.
So, we felt like we wanted to put it all into a readable digestible form that people could learn from. All the way up from the really high end to you’d be surprised at what we’ve done on the other scale of things. And we really do break it down very simply.
People say this all the time, “Oh, anybody can do it.”
They have their product or their business or their idea. When we say everybody can do it, we really mean you can do it. And we break it down into so many ways. Not everything is going to fit everybody’s personality to be able to do things a certain way. We’ve created lots of different ways for people to extend hospitality in ways that are comfortable and suitable for them. So that was kind of how we did it. It’s just about creating connection and community for women just across the country and around the world.
Cynthia: You are pointing out the power of hospitality. It creates connection. We women really need to have other women in our lives. And when we don’t, there’s something missing.
DeAnna: Exactly. And that’s exactly what we wanted to do, is give a foundation for people to have the ability and the tools so that they could create that connection. We’re about encouraging and supporting and celebrating women in general. We’ll use any excuse to have a party.
Cynthia: I was reading your website, and this is a quote, “Best tips and ideas on planning the best event, party or decor you could possibly imagine.”
I think that’s neat and exciting to think that you have someone that can walk along beside you. It’s exciting.
DeAnna: It is. Thank you.
Cynthia: I’m want more keys to unlocking the power of hospitality. Can you describe what you said was fast food hospitality is?
DeAnna: Yes. So, I was talking about all the different types of ways that we try to introduce for people to be able to be hospitable and create a connection. I love the concept of fast-food hospitality. It was created by Leslie’s daughter Shay, who lives down in Texas. She’s a millennial, and so she kind of brings in that whole generation that it’s very fast paced. We live in a very digital world nowadays. We don’t have conversations on the phone anymore. We don’t sit down and slow down, and it’s something that we’ve always done anyway.
She just kind of put it into a nice package for us. Our way of fast-food hospitality is a very quick and easy drive through sort of mentality where you can go pick up a coffee and drop it off at a friend’s house or drop it off at their work. Schedule a quick three-minute phone call with your best friend, and you say, “There are three things that we’re going to ask every single time we get on the phone.”
And then that way, you know, you’ve got your beginning, your middle, and your end, and you can catch up and you still feel connected, but then you can move on to the next thing that you have to do. So, it’s sort of that mentality of still staying connected in a way that suits your schedule, your friend’s schedule, your budget.
Leslie’s other daughter Isabella created this concept called happy Mondays. And it was created out of the talk about the Monday blues. And she just didn’t really like Mondays and she wanted to figure out a way to really enjoy Mondays. And she found that giving back to other people really made her happy.
On Happy Mondays, we kind of promote this fast-food hospitality where we will go to our favorite coffee barista and we’ll grab three or four coffees. We will drop them off with a little bag and a little note to a friend with an encouragement on there. We’ll just literally drop it on their doorstep, take a picture, ring the bell and run away.
And then we’ll send the picture to them, and then they come out and they see this cup of coffee and a little treat and a little note of encouragement. So that’s kind of our fast-food hospitality where we just kind of drive through. We’re still staying connected, but letting other people know that they’re still special, somebody’s still thinking about them, still praying about them and encouraging them for their day. It’s our way of just kind of going on through and keeping it all connected.
Cynthia: I think you just revealed another key to unlocking the power of hospitality. You said you had three questions that you always ask your friend, and I thought they were great questions. Can you share those?
DeAnna: Well, they’re always different. Usually, you’ve got your first question of, what was your week like, depending on what time of week that you’re calling. So that’s always in reference to where you are during the week.
If it’s at the beginning of the week, what have you got coming up? What can I pray for you? If it’s in the middle of the week, how are you doing? Whatever happened in the beginning of the week or what’s coming up at the end of the week. It’s always in a time relevance area, so we always ask what’s going on during their week.
We always ask what is coming up for them that we can pray for them for. So, we want to always make sure that we encourage, and we celebrate. And be there to lend an ear if they’ve got something that they need prayer for. We always want to make sure that we include prayer.
And then the third question is kind of a wild question. It’s just whatever it is that they do. Do they have an activity? How’s relationships going in their family? So, the third question is just sort of an impromptu. But we always want to make sure to really focus on what’s going on with them presently and what we can pray for them for their future.
Cynthia: You just mentioned another key to unlocking the power of hospitality. You made the statement that relationships fade if you don’t nurture them. And I thought that was so good because that’s true. I have good friends that I’ve kind of let drop, and that’s not what you really want to do. So that sounds like a great way to just stay in touch. Just a quick phone call. How are you doing? Give me an update. What can I pray for you about? Because you’re going to find out what’s really on their heart when you ask that question.
DeAnna: Absolutely. And one of the things that we really like to stress, especially when you’re creating new relationships, is confidence and confidentiality. So being confident in the fact that you can be there and support that person but being confidential in knowing that when you’re sharing and when you’re opening to somebody, that you make sure that all of that information is kept in confidence.
It doesn’t matter how well you know that person and a third person. You don’t go and talk to that third person about what’s going on in somebody’s life now. It’s different. If you want to say, “Hey, I’ve got a friend that needs prayer.” That’s one thing. But you don’t divulge details. So, when you create that trust and that relationship, you’ll find out how much easier it is to sustain relationships throughout the years.
Cynthia: Okay, so let’s just say that you’ve got someone who was like me, who was sort of new at hospitality, and they want to do something to get to know someone. How would they go about it? How would they start?
DeAnna: Sure. With Mona mi, we call it equipping and sending out. We will call people from the church that are not really connected. They come and they listen, and then they leave right away. They may not stay afterward for coffee. So, we kind of will talk to those people, and Wesley will call or the staff administrator will call from the church and say, “Hey, do you have 45 minutes? Because if you do, we’re bringing the party to you.”
And so, in every magazine, we feature a seasonal basket. We have beautiful wicker wooden baskets that we bring, and we put all our best in there. We put our best China, we put our best linens and tea services, and we put a little snack to nibble on. We do either coffee, tea, lemonade, whatever is the preference of the day. And then we always bring a little thank you note with a gift that says, thank you for letting me share this time with you.
And then we go to the person’s home, and you don’t need to have your home looking perfect. This is not what this is about. It’s about us getting to know you. So, we will set it up on a table or a kitchen table or a coffee table. We bring everything, and we set it all out. We sit down, and we always go in twos. Leslie and I would go together, and we will say, “Tell us about you. Tell us what’s going on with you.”
And we’ll just sit there and listen and let them talk. And so, if you’re interested in doing something like that, get in touch with somebody and say, “Hey, this isn’t really the right environment for us to really get to know each other. Why don’t you come over to my house? Or maybe I can come over to your house or maybe we can meet somewhere.” It doesn’t have to be you taking a basket.
You are creating the time to say, “Let’s grab a coffee together. I’d love to get to know you a little bit more.” That phrase will go miles and miles and miles and that’s all it takes.
Cynthia: I love that idea of taking a basket. I saw the baskets on your website, and I’m going to remember this for someone who has a baby or something like that. But doing that to take a gift over to someone’s house and say, “Let’s just sit down and chat. Have a scone with me.” I think that is a wonderful idea.
DeAnna: It is. And it’s a great way to connect with people and to grow your community. And then now you have two people who have created a relationship with this person. So, the next time you want to go and visit bring a new person.
So now you’ve created three relationships with that person. So that’s just one of the ways that we do it. Like in the church, that’s really beneficial because we really want to encourage and lift people and let them know how special they are and that they’re not in life alone. We weren’t meant to be alone. So, the basket idea is fun.
Cynthia: I think that is a wonderful thing because, you know, as women, you don’t know what the other person is like. And you can’t really love them unless you know where they are.
DeAnna: And our actual church concept is called Church Around the Table. We provide a meal for all of our congregants. We sit down and we break bread and then we listen to the sermon. We’re able to talk. We just really found that in hospitality that’s really where relationships happen. It’s usually at the table.
Cynthia: Yes. I love the fact too that your magazine has fun little ideas. I was noticing that you had a note about how to store your silver trays. You had yours displayed in a basket. That is a wonderful idea.
DeAnna: It’s literally sitting right in front of me here in my kitchen. I put one of those buffers filled with air between them. You can’t see that but it protects them, so they don’t scratch.
It’s a great way to store all of your trays without taking up any shelf space. It takes up barely any floor space and it’s a beautiful display. People walk in and say, “Oh, that’s so beautiful.” It’s very uncommon that you see so much silver nowadays.
Cynthia: Yeah, I do too. I love my silver. I noticed you also had fun ideas like an outdoor picnic, ideas where you buy stuff specifically that can handle the outdoors. To have an outdoor picnic, it doesn’t have to be something fancy. Can you share a little bit about that?
DeAnna: We’re here in Southern California so there’s a lot of outdoor picnics at the lake or at the beach. The sand is going to come and it’s going to blow in your food, there’s not much you can do. It doesn’t matter what you have.
We like to go the method of just being able to grab and go sort of thing. So, we’ll make a lot of finger sandwiches, and we’ll do things like sushi because that’s fun. We like to keep it simple. We’re obviously not going to prepare a huge pasta dinner with salad and bread, but it’s just keeping it light and easy and remembering that of course we want great-tasting food.
But again, when you’re going out it’s really about creating that relationship. If it’s cold outside, we get these travel cups for soup. We did that a lot during COVID. One of the ways that we kept in connection with people is we started a soup ministry.
I have to pat myself on the back a little bit on this one. I make an awesome homemade chicken noodle soup. I make all the noodles homemade, and I started to put all of those into little to-go containers. We would drop them off at our friends’ porches. Just kind of like a happy Monday thing, but we’d do it all throughout the week if they weren’t feeling well. Cucumber sandwiches are big during that time, so we kind of did that kind of drop and go ministry of soup. So that’s always a good one to take with you on a picnic.
Cynthia: I love that. I was reading some history recently. I’m part of a history group, and we’re about to have our 125th anniversary, and we were reading about one of the founders of the group. She loved to pack a picnic basket with fried chicken and homemade pickles. And I was thinking it’s eternal.
DeAnna: That is fantastic. Well, I love the homemade pickle idea because I just started getting into gardening and agriculture. I literally just planted my first three bushes or first three plants of cucumbers. And they’re starting to come in, and I’ve got, eight big fat ones. Those are going to be so good. I could pickle those.
Cynthia: I think it’s so neat that you’ve got all these ideas. Another thing I noticed. You had a whole section on moms and manners and how you can teach your kids manners. I love it.
DeAnna: Absolutely. Throughout the years, we’ve seen a little bit of a decline in etiquette, and Leslie and I are huge on etiquette. We wrote a book called Just the Basics, Manners Made Easy. And it’s very small. It’s got all the basics of etiquette.
And we’re big on teaching that to our smallest kids all the way up through to our most seasoned professionals as well. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t know where the silverware goes.
This is a constant battle with my children because they know how to set a table, but they will purposely do it wrong just to tease me. But I’m very adamant about sitting down with my kids for dinner every night. If we’re all home, we are all sitting down to dinner. And it’s always a teachable moment.
They’re all two years apart, and there’s four of them. So, there’s constant back and forth. There are always teachable moments and doing it in a way that is fun and loving. And they may not always practice it now in front of me, but I’m confident that when they get older, and they start meeting significant others that they’re going to behave.
So, it’s important to bring up our young children in a way that shows proper respect for other people. Etiquette is not for us, really. It’s for other people and showing that we have respect.
Cynthia: I love it. You even mentioned that you can teach your kids how to start a conversation, how to close a conversation. And sometimes kids need to learn that.
DeAnna: When we first started doing this concept, long before Leslie and I had the magazine, I was doing this with my children when they were very young. And we’d sit down at the table, and I would say, “Okay, everybody has to go around the table, and you need to tell me two things.”
We called it talking about our day. So, they had to tell me one thing that they learned in school and one fun fact, and they got used to sharing at the table. Eventually, as time went on, it would lead into conversation. When we sit down to dinner, I don’t even have to say anything. They just start talking about what’s going on. “Hey, what did you do today?”
“What did you play today?”
“How’d you do on that game?”
And so it’s nice to see that coming to naturally, and they don’t even realize it. I do a lot of entertaining at my house, and so when people come over, I’m very confident they’re going to come up, “Hi, my name is,” and they’ll give their name, they’ll shake their hands, they make eye contact. It’s just those little things that we practiced throughout the years that they don’t even realize it. And that’s the beautiful thing about etiquette, is a lot of times your kids aren’t even going to realize that they’re getting a lesson out of you.
Cynthia: Yeah, I love that. I had a friend that would ask their kids “What was the best part of your day?” and “What was a sad moment in your day? When you do that, then you start getting their emotions on the table and they continue to talk to you. So those things are important.
DeAnna: Absolutely. And one of the pieces of advice that I always give parents when they ask, when your kids have something to tell you, you need to listen to everything that they say. Even if you don’t listen to the small stuff, they’re not going to want to tell you the big stuff. There are times that my kids come in, and I have to say “Give me a minute, I’ll come back to you.”
But always make sure that you remind them that we’re going to come back to this and let them know that what they have to say is important. When you cultivate that relationship with your child, there’s really nothing that they won’t share with you. Take that time when they’re younger.
Cynthia: Yeah, I love that. Well, is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?
DeAnna: I’m so passionate about this because we have so much fun. I am a 100% true introvert, so I do not find it very easy to go out and meet people and have conversations with them. And my business partner, Leslie, is the beautiful thing about it. We’re kind of the opposite of each other, which is good.
So, if I can teach you how to do hospitality and I can do it, you can do it, too. Because as a true introvert, I can do things. They’re not very easy on me. But the way we do it and the way we describe it, literally anybody can do it.
You start off with doing fast-food hospitality or drive-through hospitality or doing a happy Monday where you don’t even have contact with anybody. You literally just put something on the doorstep, ring the bell, and walk away. That’s extending hospitality in a way that could be in your comfort zone. So, I really would encourage people, especially if you are feeling lonely, isolated, depressed, you have anxiety or you’re going through stuff.
Reach out to people, because not everybody will reach out to you. Sometimes you need to take that first step, and don’t be afraid to ask. But if you are a person who wants to extend the hospitality, give it a try. And you’d be surprised at how many amazing relationships and connections that you will make. Because as women, there’s a lot of competition. And what we’re trying to do is break that preconceived notion that we’re in competition with each other, because we’re not.
We lift each other up when we support each other and when we encourage each other. It helps women. Women help economies. Women help the core family values. So, you get your tribe in there, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. So, I would encourage people to give it a try. And if you have questions, reach out. We’re always available. We have our contact information on everything. And we don’t pass emails off on an assistant. We handle all of those ourselves. So, everyone’s always welcome to ask questions.
Cynthia: I encourage people to visit your site: heartofhospitalitymagazine.com.
For a few hospitality suggestions from Cynthia, click here.