How To Be A Good Host

How to be a good host! Entertain, lodge and feed your family and friends without losing your cool!

Being a good house guest isn't difficult. In fact, it's quite easy-or should be. Unfortunately, most guests end up overstaying their welcome.

Why is that when we know how difficult it is to have house guests. We've all been host and/or hostess to someone from time to time and we all know how the story goes. Everyone always feels rushed and inconvenienced. If you expect your guests to enjoy themselves, don't make them feel as though they have overstayed their welcome, even if they have.

It's always something along the same lines. They arrive and everyone's glad to see each other, but in the excitement the guest's suitcases are left in the doorway or in the living room, or in the hallway. Where ever they are, unless they're tucked away out of sight, they're in the way. Even if they're already in the guest room, if you can see them through the open door, your home seems to be in upheaval.

The host smiles and grits his teeth. They brought the dog. For the next three days the host doubts his sanity. Didn't he tell them NOT to bring the dog? He could swear you did, so why is there a dog running around in his house?

After the initial welcomes and smiles and tears and reminiscing, some real problems begin to skirt around in his head. They not only brought the dog, but their little darling, barely walking, is hugging the furniture as she makes her way around the living room. The guests smile encouragingly, and brag about their newest arrival. Unfortunately, all the host can see is the sucker smears she made as she traveled from the TV to the end table and now...what's that smell. Does he detect some leakage in that diaper?

Without wanting to sound urgent, he screws up his face into a tight smile and cheerfully says, "Well, it looks like she's due for a diaper change!" Your guests nod knowingly, their smiles never leaving their faces. About this time the host and hostess have exchanged a meaningful glance: What did they get themselves into?

Okay, you're the host, you'll live. It's probably not that bad. After all, you knew there would be a baby, right? So what if she smears a little bit of sticky stuff here and there, it can all be washed off, right? Well, it can, and you probably don't really mind, but after a few days of doing double duty in your own home, it can wear pretty thin. If it becomes a problem, let your guest know. Don't let a small thing like personal habits get in the way of a beautiful visit.

Buck up. Smile. You are the host. You invited them to your home, now treat them like royalty. Let them know what you expect when it comes to keeping the homestead clean and picked up, then give them the option to share or not. Most guests will want to help, but don't be upset if they don't. They may have just flown in from half-way around the continent, they may have had a horrible drive, they may not have slept the night before, the dog may have caused more trouble on the way than he was worth. You have no way of knowing. Also, not everyone's household rules are the same-let them know what yours are right off the bat. That'll ease everyone's mind.

That established, accept any oddities they may indulge in that don't make you uncomfortable or that don't impede your own family's progress throughout the day. If they attend mass on a daily basis, get a schedule to the church of their choice and have it waiting in the guest room for them when they arrive. In fact, anything you feel would make them more welcome should be included on this list and either left in the guest room, or handed to the guests as they arrive.

Your guest will want to know what kind of shopping is available nearby, what things are within walking distance, restaurants in the vicinity. If you work and your guests will be expected to entertain themselves throughout the day, they will be able to do so easily and comfortably. Make things as painless as possible.

Accept the gift they brought graciously. NEVER decline a gift, even if it's a fruitcake and you hate fruitcake. Take it, smile and put in the kitchen. If the thank you gift is a horrendous picture that you'd never hang in your home, don't mention it. Instead, smile, accept the gift and say something about it. Say it's different, say it's unique, but don't say it's horrendous. Don't let your kids say the gift is horrendous, either, and if they do, reprimand them. There is no reason to be rude.

If your guests want you to pick out a thank you gift, pick one out. Make them feel like the stay was mutually rewarding, even if it wasn't. Chances are, minus a few delicate situations, you've all had a great time. Don't be overly expensive, but don't be too inexpensive when picking, either. Pick something you really want. If it's a picture for the kitchen and it'll remind you of them and you'll actually use it, don't be afraid to choose it.

If they want to take you to dinner, let them. If you want to entertain them on a given day, let them know beforehand. Don't surprise them with tickets to the ballet. They may hate the ballet. They may have other plans. This is their vacation, you invited them over, let the decisions about where to go and what to do come from your guest. After all, you live there, you can do anything you want in your area anytime you want. They can't. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Finally, when they prepare to leave, offer a genuine welcome back. Chances are, if it was a bad visit, there were extenuating circumstances that couldn't be helped, anyway. It was probably no one's fault. No one visits with the intention of turning your home upside down, but, on occasion, it does happen. Live with it. Invite them back again next year, walk them to the door, to the taxi, or to the terminal. A parting gift from you-something to munch on during the trip-would be very thoughtful. A book for the children, a snack bag, or something fun to remember the visit by is especially rewarding for your guests' children.

They'll love you and praise you as the perfect Host for years to come.

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