I don't know about you, but I love having people over to my place for dinner.

For one thing, having company on a regular basis is the best way I know to make sure my home stays really clean. (Sadly, I must confess that my standards have a tendency to slip when the cats and I are the only ones with a view of the mess.) Beyond that, there's a sense of satisfaction in bringing people together for good food and conversation. But there's another reason to host social gatherings ...

We have a biblical mandate to show hospitality. Paul tells us straight up in Romans 12:13, "Practice hospitality." Peter expands on that idea in 1 Peter 4:9, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." Without grumbling, eh? I'm thinking there's a story behind that one. Peter seems to have been prone to inviting people over without much forethought—remember when he brought Jesus and the boys home for dinner the day his mother-in-law was sick in bed? I can imagine Mrs. Peter had a few choice words to say about that! However, since Jesus promptly healed her mom (clearly HE understood the stress Mrs. P was under, even if her husband was clueless), it all worked out in the end. But it does make me wonder if the "without grumbling" part was directed to anyone in particular.

Should you host a dinner party? Why not? It's good practice for your social skills. It's a great way to get on the invite list for other people's parties. If you're like me, it will prompt you to clean house just a little more carefully than usual. It's also a good way to introduce separate sets of friends to each other, celebrate a milestone, or get to know people better.

Beyond that, having people over is a way to show the people who matter to you that they matter to you. It's a tangible form of appreciation. Yes, it's more trouble than eating takeout alone in front of the TV or meeting your friends at the local coffee shop. That's the point. Going out of your way for someone shows you care. It says, "You are worth the trouble." Who among us—especially those of us who are single—doesn't long to be worthy of at least a little extra effort on someone's part? (And how many of us secretly believe we're not?)

If you're a naturally gregarious sort, you don't really need encouragement to throw a little party. But if you have a more retiring nature, or you just don't know where to begin, don't worry. I'm here to help—and despite that earlier talk about "trouble" and "effort" it can be a whole lot easier than you think.

You can plan a party around any excuse or no excuse at all. I once threw a "Poverty Party" for those of us who couldn't afford our church's singles' retreat. The rule was you had to wear old clothes and bring food you had already paid for, which made for quite the eclectic menu. For years I held an annual birthday party for Sherlock Holmes. (He never showed, but he was in his 150's and it's a long flight from London to Texas.) Choose a random holiday like World Food Day (October 16) or National Chocolates Day (October 28) or celebrate that the sun rose that morning. You don't even need a reason—just do it!

Here's an easy, budget-friendly party idea:  host a soup supper. It is officially fall now, so soup is in season. It's a relatively inexpensive entrée, doesn't require fancy presentation, and leftovers freeze beautifully for lunches later. Besides, it's fairly difficult to really mess up soup, so even if your culinary skills are not of Iron Chef caliber you can pull this off. I've included a couple of favorite recipes at the end of this article to get you started. On the other hand, if you want to pick up soup from the grocery store (many carry excellent varieties in the deli section) there is no shame in that. Hospitality has much more to do with attitude than it does with food.