Author Topic: What makes a good/bad hostess?  (Read 3380 times)

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weegem

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What makes a good/bad hostess?
« on: March 08, 2007, 10:26:37 AM »
(Mods, if this is oin the wrong place, I apologise! Please move it as needed)

Hi all!

My cousin, his wife, and their 5 month old baby will be visiting me in Scotland for a couple of weeks from the US. I haven't seen my cousin for close to 15 years (we were close as teenagers) and have never met his wife. This cousin is the only one from that side of the family that has kept up some sort of contact with me through the years, so I really want to make a good impression. They'll be staying with us in a guest bedroom downstairs, and I want them to feel comfortable and as 'at home' as possible.

When you visit someone, what kinds of things do you really appreciate? As a host/ess, what are your favourite things to do to make your guests feel special? Also, share any good/bad experiences you've had with guests or when you were a guest and what you would've done to make it better :)

Thanks!

Lisbeth

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 10:35:08 AM »
Well, when I visit I like to know that I have enough space to put my things, that my sleeping area will be sufficiently comfortable, that I'm not "in anyone's way" or displacing any permanent residents of the house, and that we'll have enough time together to make the visit worthwhile.  I'd rather not visit and find that due to work concerns, etc., the hosts don't have any time for me or very little time for me.  It makes me feel like I'm in their way.

As a hostess, I like to show my guests areas of the locality, landmarks, tourist attractions, fun things to do, etc., that will appeal to both me and them, treat them to dinner (things they'll like), and spend time with them.  What I don't want is for the guests to be totally on their own schedule and use my home as an unpaid hotel and restaurant or fail to clean up after themselves.

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weegem

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2007, 10:46:12 AM »

Completely agree with everthing you've said, Keen! Especially the using my house as an unpaid hotel. When I was little we lived about 1/2 hour from the border in SoCal, and we always got relatives coming over to stay. We'd never see them though, because they'd be off to Disneyland or Mexico or Seaworld or wherever and just use our place to sleep.

Xanthia, Maker of fine Tin-foil hats since 2007

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2007, 10:53:46 AM »
Some good general basics are to let them know where certain things are, like towels, where to put wet towels, what is OK for them to eat in the fridge (some people have special foods they use for allergies or medicines).  I always have some extra shampoo, conditioners and cheapie tooth brushes just in case. 

Get some brochures for them to let them pick what they may be interested in seeing.  If you have to work while they are here, some maps of the area or access to MapQuest or something like that so they can go sight seeing on their own.  Let them know how to work your washer and dryer incase they want to do laundry, and basically treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were visiting them.

Also, if they offer to prepare a meal for you or take you out for a meal, I would graciously accept instead of arguing that they are your guest, they want to do something nice for you so let them!

All of the advice I am giving is from someone who lives in Central Florida and has had my fair share of guests visiting to go to Disney, LOL.

kingsrings

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2007, 12:55:33 PM »
One thing I really, really appreciate as a guest is having my own, private bathroom. I know it's not always possible based on what kind of house it is, but I still prefer it if it's at all possible. I don't like bathing and cleaning up in bathrooms that others have used, plus I don't like coordinating bathroom-use schedules amongst multipe users.

Harriet Jones

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2007, 01:42:06 PM »
If there are certain routines in your household that need to be followed, let your guests know.  Like if someone needs to be in the bathroom at X time so that they aren't late to work.    I remember once when my BF and I were staying at his mom's house -- we got chewed out for taking showers in the morning and using up the hot water.  I would have appreciated a heads up that they would have preferred us taking showers in the evening.


aline

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2007, 01:48:11 PM »
I like to have a small basket of travel sized toiletries (extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, lotion, etc) for my guests in case they've forgotten anything, or don't want to have to bring everything along.

Having brochures in their room of some of the local shopping ,attractions and maps is also nice.


Venus193

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2007, 02:05:05 PM »
Since TV sets and DVD players are so cheap at the moment, I'd try to put one in my (hypothetical) guest room.  Also a shelf of books I've already read.

Brochures, a subway map, and a list of good places to eat are a must.

I'd also find out in advance what their favorite foods are and try to have some on hand.

ginlyn32

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2007, 07:53:06 PM »
(Mods, if this is oin the wrong place, I apologise! Please move it as needed)

Hi all!

My cousin, his wife, and their 5 month old baby will be visiting me in Scotland for a couple of weeks from the US. I haven't seen my cousin for close to 15 years (we were close as teenagers) and have never met his wife. This cousin is the only one from that side of the family that has kept up some sort of contact with me through the years, so I really want to make a good impression. They'll be staying with us in a guest bedroom downstairs, and I want them to feel comfortable and as 'at home' as possible.

When you visit someone, what kinds of things do you really appreciate? As a host/ess, what are your favourite things to do to make your guests feel special? Also, share any good/bad experiences you've had with guests or when you were a guest and what you would've done to make it better :)

Thanks!


If your cousin has email, write to her. Ask her her likes and dislikes.

Fav food, beverage.
Fav. TV show
Is she allergic to certain foods/animals/pollan?
Was there someplace specific she wanted to visit?

Make certain the bed has clean linens. If you have animals (cats especially), keep them out of the guest room so that they don't get hair all over everything. Have extra blankets avalible incase they get cold at night.

Since they will have a baby with them, make an effort to baby-proof the house. You might want to consider getting a baby gate. You can get one at most Walmarts for about $15.

I would also have some baby food on hand. Does not have to be expensive, just simple finger foods that baby can nibble on. You may also need to get a high-chair or something for the baby to sit in while he/she is eating.

Does your family or her family watch alot of TV? find out what her favorite programs are and agree on what to watch when.

Respect your cousins privacy. Knock before you enter her room.

You can also put some candles and nice bath products in her room for her to use while she is visiting you.

Have fun!

Ginger

ETA: I would also have some OTC meds on hand in case someone has upset tummies, headaches and bandaids. You could even put them in the Medicine cabnent in the bathroom. Also some "lady things" for the wife. Just in case. I just know how embarressed I would be if I had "my time of the month" and no supplies and didn't know the host/ess very well.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2007, 07:59:34 PM by ginlyn32 »
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blarg314

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2007, 09:16:31 AM »


Some empty hangers in a closet and an empty drawer or two are nice for stays of more than a day or two.  Towels, washcloth, soap and shampoo in the bathroom.  A box of tissues and an alarm clock in the bedroom. A coaster for the bedside table.  If they've got a baby, point them to the location of extra cleaning supplies and cleaning cloths so they can tidy up messes without bugging you.   Let them know where to dispose of dirty diapers.

If they're visiting from the US their electric stuff won't be compatible with the sockets or the voltage/current.  A plug adaptor on hand for items with a AC/DC converter (laptop, digital camera) would be handy to have on hand, and if you have a spare hair dryer or similar things lying around letting them know they can borrow it would be nice.

Letting them know what they can help themselves to - juice and pop in the fridge, snacks in the cupboard, where the iron and laundry facilities are and how to use them if it's not obvious.

A quick babyproofing of the guest bedroom if the kid is crawling would be appreciated, I'm sure. 

Maps and brochures for local sights.

For the not necessary but nice to have things which you can do if easy, but don't have to - a pitcher of water and some glasses, a couple of books or a radio in the bedroom, extra toiletries or OTC medications.


Finally, I would say don't be too over the top.  If they sense that you're uncomfortable, or desperately running around trying to force more comforts on them, it may make them feel awkward.  Set up the room comfortable, and be sure they know they can ask you if they need anything.

EvilAlice

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2007, 11:04:27 AM »
Quote
an alarm clock in the bedroom.

Yes!

Some people don't think of this- they have a comfortable well appointed guest room, but no clock.  I hate this because I tend to wake up a bunch of times during the night.  If there's no clock I have to fumble around for a light,dig around for my cell phone, find my glasses, and squint to see if I am supposed to go back to sleep or get up.

Emmy

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2007, 12:29:48 PM »
There are many obvious things like clean linens, having the bathroom stocked, ect.

Plan ahead as much as you can.  It will be more fun and easier to plan for their stay if you know how much they'd be interested in touring, what kind of foods they like, or any special needs they have.

You can also get an idea of food they like to make sure you have their favorite snacks, softdrinks, and cereals on hand.  Cooking a favorite dinner is also a nice touch.  Somebody suggested having books and movies which is a nice touch.

If they will be doing much traveling and site seeing without you, make sure they have maps and some highlights of your area.  If you will be going with them, set up some day trips that will take them to see the highlights of your area.

Unlike people in the stories on this site, good guests will want to show their gratefulness for your hospitality.  Accept graciously if they give you a gift or want to take you out to dinner.

Make sure you let them know that your home is their home for their stay.  That way your guests will feel comfortable helping themselves to a snack or drink if you aren't around.

Shoo

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2007, 01:37:50 PM »
Do you know someone who can loan you some baby things to use while they are there?  Check in with the mom to see if they would make use of a high chair, swing, changing table, etc.

When we traveled with my infant daughter, our hosts secured a few of these things and it made our stay so much easier.

lovinAZ

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2007, 12:18:56 AM »
We keep extra travel-size toiletries in the bathroom (shampoo, toothpaste, hand lotion, soap, floss, tampons) for guests. 

We make sure there are enough places to hang wet towels so that they'll dry.  (Sometimes this requires some improvisation, depending on how many people are staying.)

Also, we put post-it notes on cabinets where everyday things are -- glasses, dishes, bowls, silverware, maybe pots.  I know that when I'm in someone else's kitchen, I hate to go digging through everything to find a glass or a spoon.

Hope that helps.

Sibby

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Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2007, 09:59:01 AM »
Great suggestions so far, so I'll only add or reiterate a few -

Notes on how to use your washer/dryer, or dishwasher if you have one, are handy.  Sure it might seem obvious, but it's not always, and guests - especially ones with a small child - will appriciate being able to do a load of wash.

If your coffee pot is not idiot-proof (note most American's use drip machines), a note on how to use it and where the supplies are is a very good idea.  I know I often get mild insomnia in other people's homes and will wake up early - I'm always happy to able to brew a cup of coffee, for me and my hosts.

The alarm clock in the room is a very thoughtful and handy!

Local sites & fun stuff, written up and a basic itnerary.  You don't need to get specific but if you list out say 10 cool things to do & see in the area, indicate which excursions you would be happy to accompany your guests on and what date & time you are available to do so.  This lets them plan out their time both to site see and to socialise.  If you can email them this in advance, even better.

Oh and one last important thing re: your subject line "Re: What makes a good/bad hostess?" the most key part to being a good hostess is doing exactly what you are doing right now - putting thought & consideration into your guest's comfort.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2007, 10:01:02 AM by Sibby »