Did you know we have some expert hostesses in our midst? After reading your responses to my last etiquette post, I can only imagine how wonderful being a guest at one of your homes would be. Your thoughts on how to be a perfect hostess are too good not to share.
Graciously opening your home to others is as much about your state of mind as it is about the food you serve and the décor you prepare. You have provided such good reminders that thoughtfulness and consideration are at the heart of hospitality. If you are comfortable and at ease your guests will feel free to relax and enjoy themselves.
We all know that having guests into our homes means that the unexpected will happen. There’s no amount of perfect planning that can eliminate the accidental spill on the table or the guest who couldn’t avoid being late. But a sound mind going into the party allows you to approach the unexpected with grace and good humor. Don’t be afraid to laugh, friends!
Here are some other handy tips as you prepare for guests this Christmas and New Year’s:
Ruth summed up the heart of good etiquette for the hostess and guest alike:
I believe for hostesses or guests it is all about the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” If everyone would follow that rule, every party would be a smashing love fest and everyone would have a wonderful time and be filled with gratitude. It’s a little like living Christmas all year.
Our friends at FrenchGardenHouse wrote about needing to be considerate and relaxed:
I think more than anything, what it takes to be a good hostess is thoughtfulness. A good hostess introduces guests to each other, pointing out something interesting about the guests or what they have in common, so that when she leaves them to join other guests, they have a starting point of conversation.
Thoughtfulness also includes being organized, cheery, and relaxed. Your guests come to see you and have a good time; a nervous wreck of a hostess does not make guests feel good!
Several of you noted the importance of greeting your guests at the door.
Dianne listed several good tips for hosting. At the top of her list: “A warm and sincere greeting.”
Sharon explained why attention to detail matters so much:
Make sure their comfort and convenience is assured. They will find coasters on all unprotected surfaces. There will not be so many throw pillows on the seating that they have to perch on the very edge. There will be extra toilet tissue visible in bathrooms as well as facial tissue available. Don’t display very fragile cherished items in places where they could easily be knocked over by children, adults in over-crowded rooms, etc.
With that, Nanci takes special care to accommodate guests’ special diets:
I try my best to find out what people enjoy eating and if there are any food allergies or problems for them with my menu selections. Many these days are gluten free, lactose intolerant, etc. Now mind you I don’t go crazy with all choices, but I label all dishes so they know.
Thanks to Lady Beatryce for reminding us that it’s okay to bring in some extra help to aid with the preparations and cleanup.
A couple years ago I started hiring a young woman to be responsible for the kitchen details during the party. I ask her to come early so that I can brief her, and then I relax and enjoy my guests. My young helper also stays to clean up, and that way I can personally say goodbye to my guests when the party is over.
And CJ added that a simple favor ensures that guests leave on a happy note.
I’ll add that I always have a gift basket placed somewhere near the door to offer guests as they leave. In it may be specially wrapped soaps, festive air deodorizers, Ornaments (at holidays), candies, or homemade gifts. No one leaves without a little something.
I hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday. Considering the thoughtful comments you’ve shared here, I’m sure your homes will be full of joy and warm memories this season.