Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hostess with the Mostest

I've been doing my fair share of traveling over the last year and half, and I've also done my fair share of serving as hostess for either out of town guests or party and dinner guests over the last decade. I'm by NO means an expert, but I've learned many a thing from our good friends over at Pinterest, and much of what I've learned, came from watching the amazing hosts around me from as far back as I can remember.

My grandmothers were both great hosts, along with my mom, but my grandma M. truly takes the cake when it comes to welcoming people into her home. The flowers are always on the table. The snacks and appetizers start the minute you walk in the door. You're gracefully force fed wonderful, home cooked meals, and desert is a staple. She's amazing. As a high school home-ed teacher her whole career, she can master any gathering and begins preparing her menus weeks in advance. She's my get-together super hero.

Thanks to a decade and a half in the south, I've also learned a thing or too about graciousness and going above and beyond for your company. I've also learned to never rush anyone out of my home.  Sit a spell or as long as you'd like. Want to make this luncheon a dinner and then a sleepover, well of course. I'll have clean sheets on the guest bed just in case.

With all of that being said, I've begun compiling a modest list on the tips that I have learned, both from the wonderfully warm hosts that I've encountered to the more prickly ones as well. Hopefully I'll be able to keep my grandma's hospitality alive, and one day pass this humble list onto my children.
  1. Again, never rush anyone out the door. If you've invited someone to your home or party, clear your schedule for a few hours after the event. They've done that for you so be willing to do the same for them.
  2. Less is, less. Always be prepared and never run out of food and drink. More is a must.
    1. Activate a "family hold back" plan if you find yourself in a pinch. You can always feed your family once everyone leaves if needed.
  3. If you do not want anyone in your home "making a mess", do not invite them. No one knows how you keep your home but you. I cannot expect everyone to know how I like my dishwasher loaded or that there is a "coaster with every drink" policy in place (which there isn't for us). People will respect your space as much as they know how to, but they don't know everything. Please cut them some slack and give them the space to relax and enjoy themselves. It's a party for a reason.
  4. Everyone loves a little pretty. Whether it's fresh flowers, fancy napkins, or seasonal trinkets on the table, everyone appreciates a little something special. I always want my guests to know that friends and family are important to our home and making our space pretty for them is worth my time.
  5. Have overnight guests? Make their stay as comfortable and stress free as possible. I love that when I stay at my BFF's house, my towels are always on the bed for me so that I don't have to ask or hunt. When I've had a guest come for a longer stay, I put together a snack basket in their room. I know that it can be awkward as a guest when you're hungry and no one else seems to be, and you don't really want to go hunting and gathering through their pantry. A small basket with snack size treats can be a small thing that says "I'm so glad you're here".
  6. Your home is the one place that you completely own in this big ole world. How you treat people inside of that "world" makes a lasting impression. If your guests leave feeling unwelcome, that may be an impression that they take with them for years to come. Would you want to go back to a prickly party again?
  7. Swim like a duck. You may be paddling like the dickens under the service, but above the water, you must appear graceful and calm. This is something that I have to work on, and most likely will forever. I'm a perfectionist at times, so I can sometimes become flustered and forget that people are there to celebrate and relax, not walk around with a party score card. I know that my energy can sometimes set the tone for others, so I'm thinking about hanging a small sign in my kitchen that reminds me to "just keep swimming".
  8. Have fun! Your guests chose to spend their time in your home. Feel honored and remind yourself that "Wow, you chose to spend your time with lil ole me and all of my pretty and delicious?! Well, bless your little heart!" Who doesn't love feeling fancy and special?
    I do. I do!

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