One of the most basic indicators of elegance is one’s ability to gracefully host guests at home. Whether they are visitors from out of town or a large group attending a house party, it is important that you learn how to be a good host and create a positive impression.
The way a person feels while being hosted by you is determined by many factors. This series will cover the ins and outs of every kind of event, and will provide advice, tips, stories, and insight regarding the best way to make your guests’ visits a testament to your skills as a host.
This first post will review the basics of hosting, and will provide a guide for the rest of the series. Read on, my friends, and find out how to make your house a home – to anyone who happens to stop by!
Element One: Developing A Good Host Ritual.
You are likely familiar with the chaotic rush that often seizes us as the date of an event approaches. Suddenly there seem to be a hundred forgotten tasks, and stress ensues.
This is almost always due to a lack of effective life-planning. There is no need to panic before opening your home to others. In fact, it ought to be a pleasant occasion for everyone – including you!
To avoid the mad rush and scrambled to-do list, make sure you have a hosting ritual.
This is simply a procedure you follow each time you host. It can be a task list with time frames included, like this one:
- 1 Week Out – Purchase all necessary groceries that will last until the guest’s arrival and have a menu planned. If catering, call the company and confirm the order.
- 5 Days Out – Look over the RSVP list if hosting a party. Check in with guests to make sure you’re both on the same page logistically.
- 3 Days Out – Meal prep what you can for the event, erring on the side of abundance. Launder guest linens and sanitize the bathrooms they will be using.
- 2 Days Out – Clean as much as possible. Take it one task at a time, focusing on the most visible areas of the home!
- 1 Day Out – Go over lists relating to the event and make an effort to de-stress. Finish cleaning and set out any special decor.
- Day Of – Spot clean and make sure that your home appeals to the senses! Think like a guest and go through the event in your head, step-by-step.
Your ritual may vary considerably depending on the event, but these are the basics. A ritual keeps you organized and provides a time-cushion for you as a host.
Element Two: Developing An Eye For The Details.
The main things a guest will remember about visiting your home are the little details that make their stay special. Not all of us are detail-oriented by nature, but you can learn to think of the little things naturally in time.
There are manuals that can help you with this, some new and some old. My main method is to take myself through the typical “guest experience” in my head.
This exercise has taught me that there are a wealth of thoughtful things a person can do to make a visitor feel truly at home. For example, you can leave a new toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste for overnight guests. Try to leave a stack of clean towels and an extra blanket or two for them, too. Arranging them neatly on the bed makes your guest feel like they are truly a VIP, and that’s your goal.
If you are hosting a large gathering, arranging small gift bags with homemade items such as a DIY bath scrub, small scented candle, or other affordable item communicates class and poise. Simply thinking of things like providing tissue boxes throughout the hosting space and having a small coffee station really ups the ante, since many hosts never have such items cross their minds.
The heart of any event is the thought that goes into crafting it. Every visitor should feel like they are important, no matter how familiar they are. Small, thoughtful details are almost certain to create that feeling.
Cushion Your Time.
A big issue many people have with hosting (especially the younger ones like myself) is planning and time management.
It’s not enough to just have a vague concept of when people are going to arrive at your home. And you’ll need to do more than set out a few bags of chips and some soda to be a truly memorable host, which, if you’ve embraced the philosophy of this blog, should be your goal.
I am sure you’ve attended many average, thrown-together parties before. While they may “get the job done” when it comes to socializing, they don’t really add much value to your time.
Similarly, when you go to stay with someone and they put you in a sparse, unimpressive guest room, you’re not going to find the experience particularly pleasant.
Even when hosting feels like a chore to you, planning is key.
Plan everything: meals, bedding, linens, music, games, movies, crafts, drinks, layout, cleaning…. Truly, when I say everything, I mean everything. The planning you do for any one event can be used for others as well, so it’s not as if you have to do it all over again each time you host.
Keep An EHS Box.
Having “emergency hosting supplies” or EHS as I call them is also a good way to prevent a mad scramble when you have guests coming. This set of supplies usually includes snacks, wine, other drinks, and takeout/food delivery menus. You will keep your EHS somewhere convenient in case people are coming by on short notice.
Being prepared means knowing in advance that, as a host, it is your responsibility to make sure your home is a comfortable place for visitors to be. Make sure you give this fact the due diligence it deserves.
An EHS will not only save you from stress, but it will also give you more confidence as a host because you’ll know you have backup when something unexpected happens.
I divide my EHS into various boxes. I have one for food and drink (with extra liquor and drink mixes), one for toiletries, one for guest linens (including PJs), and one for general comfort (small scented candles, magazines/books, etc).
A well planned EHS setup can elevate your hosting reputation into the stratosphere, making you a host or hostess no one will forget. This has always been one of the cornerstones of a good reputation – and it can give you many unexpected opportunities, if you learn to make them happen.
In Conclusion – Learn To Be A Good Host Once, And It’ll Get Easier Over Time.
The essence of good hosting is really just the ability to anticipate others’ needs. And in my opinion, it’s always better to go overboard with this rather than miss the mark.
Hosting is not easy for many people. Social anxiety, difficult guests, and numerous other factors can make the experience less enjoyable for plenty of us. Nevertheless, being a good host is a social grace that needs to be kept strong. It gets easier with practice.
Eventually hosting will come fairly naturally for you, and you will have developed a knack for planning events that keeps you from feeling overwhelmed. You will also build up enough hosting supplies to make emergencies less likely. Hosting is a job worth doing well.
Stay tuned for more on the elements of hosting with Bougie on a Budget, and leave your own thoughts and advice in the comments!