Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Practical Hostess

Over the past month we've had several guests stay with us so I thought I'd put in a few things I've learned about being a practical hostess.

First off, cook way more than you ever think they'll eat. And I don't mean there's 5 people for dinner so cook for 6, I mean if there's 5 people for dinner cook for 10. Nothing is worse than watching the food being passed around and realizing 3 people in that you don't have enough food. You can ALWAYS freeze leftovers but you don't have the time to make additional food once people have started to eat. You simply never know how much a guest likes to eat and I've definitely been in the situation where my plate has held 2 carrots, a 1/2 piece of meat and 4 pieces of pasta because I've run out of food and need to play the gracious hostess who really isn't hungry.

I also find it very helpful to actually write out how many meals the guests will be here for and then preplan what we'll eat for each to make sure I don't have to make any last minute trips to the grocery store, or simply not be able to make a planned meal because I'm missing a key ingredient. Those types of situations will make you feel flustered and you'll have to scramble to think up a new dish to serve, stress that's totally not needed when you have guests over.

If the guests are staying for a long period of time (say 5 days), take a look at the local events calendar and pick out a few things that might interest them. You don't have to plan every minute of their stay but you do need to be prepared for suggestions because they're looking to you for guidance on what to see and do in your city. If they know the city fairly well it's still nice to have 1 or 2 suggestions of special events/festivals, etc that are taking place so they can see something new.

I'm also a big believer in trying to go about your daily routine. Just because you have guests doesn't mean you need to give up doing the things you would normally do if they weren't there. Guests understand prior commitments and as long as you're not leaving them alone every day and night, feel free to go to that soccer game, or yoga class - it's only for a few hours and likely your guests will appreciate having some time to themselves to read, watch tv, go for a walk, etc - stuff they would normally do if they were at home.

This may sound odd but stock the guest bathroom like a hotel. It can be so embarrassing for a guest to have to ask for extra toilet paper, toothpaste, towels, shampoo, etc. so the best bet is to try to anticipate their needs and put together all the items they might need during their stay. I keep a basket of things that include a small sewing kit, shampoo/conditioner, feminine hygiene items, new tubes of toothpaste, new toothbrushes (keep them in the wrapping!), razors, bubble bath, etc,. That way every time I'm expecting guests I pull it out and put it where they can see it, when guests leave I replenish it and put it away until the next guest arrives.

Finally, your guests will want to use your tv and computer - almost everyone has their favourite shows they watch or they want to check their e-mail. So, give your guests a tour of the house and include a demonstration on how to use the remotes (everyone seems to have different ones), and set up a 'guest' account on your computer so they can freely check their e-mail without both of you feeling uneasy about sensitive documents on your computer (quick, hide all the porn! JUST KIDDING!)

Anyway, there's a few things I've learned that have helped make my experience with guests easier, hope they help you too!


  1. These are some great tips Jody,and much appreciated as you are the host that always seems to have it all together (even though I know you don't feel this way). I know I have always taken advantage of your bathroom basket of goodies. I makes a guest feel special to know that your host is thinking of you.

  2. This is a great section, Jody. Bravo!