How to Be the Best Host, Hostess or Guest this Holiday Season

Make people feel comfortable from the minute they walk through the door

How to be the best host or hostess

To some degree, the rules for hosting depends on the guest and the situation. Perhaps you are hosting an overnight guest, or maybe you’re having a dinner party. If it’s a very close friend or family member, you can be a bit more relaxed. However, if your family member is bringing a stranger to your home, you may need to step up your host game. No matter the guest or the situation, there are a few guidelines that you can follow to help your guests feel at home.

Never let ’em see you sweat. Guests feel guilty if they think you’ve worked too hard to make dinner for them – which of course you have!

Ina Garten, American author, host of the Food Network program Barefoot Contessa

It is important to know when to expect your guests. Make sure to give them plenty of advance notice of at least a week, and even more if the occasion is very important. Telling your guests in advance is just a matter of courtesy. If they know what to expect, it will be much easier for them to plan their schedules around it. Assume that they will also need to work around their own schedules. Don’t tell them to come “sometime” if you really want them to show up. Tell them specifically when to come so that it feels more like an invitation. A range of times is also okay, but it should be no longer than a few hours.

If your guests show up late, try to make them feel welcome. Do not sulk for the rest of the evening, or you may compound the problem. Just continue laughing and ignore the fact they were late.

Take guest preferences and food allergies into account. When you decide on the food you will be serving, consider your guests’ food concerns. Always contact them beforehand and ask if they have any allergies or food specifications. Inviting a vegetarian over for dinner and preparing a roast would be embarrassing for both of you. Be sure to cook something that you’re comfortable cooking.

So the pie isn’t perfect? Cut it into wedges. Stay in control, and never panic.

Martha Stewart, Businesswoman and television personality

Don’t just say, “Do you have any preference for the meal?” Instead, ask your guests to name specifics. Say, “I’m planning the meal for Friday night. Do you have any allergies or food restrictions that I need to be aware of?”

Don’t go out of your way to prepare the main course which takes days to make. A good guest will appreciate any decent meal that tastes good.

Checklist summary

1. Create the atmosphere: music, lighting and good smells go along way.
2. Ask for help
3. Give yourself 25% more time than you think (so 4 hours becomes 5 hours)
4. Invite VOPs: Always invite one or two friends over a little earlier before the rest of the guests arrive
5. Take the lead by hanging coats, be clear where socializing is happening and offer refreshments

Also, remember to make your guests feel appreciated. If they want to leave, ask them to stay a bit longer since you have enjoyed their company. Tell them it has been a lovely time, and you are keen to see them again. If you noticed that they enjoyed part of the meal, in particular, consider giving a portion of it to them. Tell them you won’t need it; say that it’s a pleasure to see someone enjoy your food.

At the end of the evening, pre-plan to have a friend or family member stay, play some tunes, load up the dishwasher, and then get some rest.

How to be the best guest

When visiting someone’s home, whether they’re a close family member, a friend, or a colleague, it is important to be a gracious guest. Your manners could make all the difference between a pleasant stay or a disastrous one. Be polite in order to ensure that your stay is enjoyable both for yourself and your hosts.

1. Bring a gift for your host or hostess
2. Offer to help
3. Be timely
4. Wait for directions. A good hostess will take the lead, do not wander off limits, ask to use the bathroom, and do not ask for a tour.
5. Fill the void with good conversation that’s not all about you.
6. Say thank you, offer to help with clean up (twice, and if you get rejected both times honor your host/hostess) and know when to leave either by the end time or when the party is winding down.

Avoid overstaying your visit. Even though you have been graciously invited into their home, your hosts may have rearranged their normal routines on your behalf. Their hospitality also requires their investment of time, energy, and money.

Visit the Gasper Garden Center for plenty of great gift ideas. Gasper has gifts for gardeners, for the zen enthusiast, for the bird watcher and animal lover, and gifts for someone special.

The gift idea possibilities are endless at Gasper!

If you can’t decide, let them decide!