I grew up in a home where I don’t remember EVER eating a meal without having someone extra at our table. My parents are great hosts and I know that being a good host/hostess is a challenge. I have seen countless articles and books dealing with the complexities of this role. Who doesn’t already know this since we are bombarded with Martha Stewart lessons in hors d’oeuvres, napkin folding tips, table settings and beautiful flower arrangements? Hyper-hosting has turned the simple act of having parties and getting together with friends into three course events that usually include a theme and a party planner.
The other side to this hosting equation receives much less publicity, the forgotten link that can make or break your role as a host:
You want your hostess with the mostess to see you as a guestess with the bestess? Here’s my breakdown of the good and bad guests. Plain and simple:
The Bad Guest:
- The Shmoozer– It is totally irrelevant whether anyone is listening or not. They are totally oblivious as to whether people are interested in what they have to say and they can stay for countless hours after all others have left to continue their “fascinating “ conversation with whoever is not yet nodding off to sleep.
- The Cruiser– this is the guest who just stopped by long enough to eat the last danish, make a promise about that they will be back again real soon, to use the bathroom and to make a grand exit.
- The Loser– they never seem to have plans and for a good reason. Whether it’s their lack of social etiquette or their inability to make eye contact. They are the ones who bring their leftover bread slices and pineapple juice to “share” so that it doesn’t go bad and they generally aren’t able to connect with anyone inparticular despite repeated attempts on everyone’s part to make conversation.
- The User– These are guests of convenience. Their convenience, not yours. Once they don’t need you anymore you will never hear from them again.
- The Abuser- They make sure to let you know in advance that they only eat japanese vegetarian food, that the music is too loud, the soup too salty, and they apologize profusely while asking you to wrap up the leftovers for them to take home.
- The Muser- They don’t comment, compliment or join in the conversation and they tend to spend most of their time staring into space. You wonder if they are philosophers and if there is MORE to them than meets the eye when really there is LESS…much, much less. You wonder if your meal will be the contributing factor to their suicide attempt when, miraculously, on their way out they somehow manage to mumble: “Thanks, I had a great time.”
The Good Guest:
- Give- Just bring something, damn it, even when your host insists otherwise.
- Gauge- Don’t be oblivious to everyone around you. Yes, Spanish Inquisition Era manuscripts may be fascinating to YOU but if everyone else is staring into space then zip-it!
- Good Nights- Overnight guests should not overuse any one household item without confirming that it is ok with their hosts first. Don’t take overly long showers, don’t leave a mess in the bathroom, don’t leave wet towels on the floor and make sure to keep your room neat when you are going out.
- Grace- you walk into a room and see people talking, recognize when it’s a conversation that requires privacy and don’t get involved.
- Gratitude- Make sure to thank your host at different moments during your stay as a guest. It’s all about gratitude. Thank them for thinking of you when you arrive. Thank them again when you leave and make sure to compliment. Compliment their home, their cooking, their efforts and their kindness. And please try to sound sincere.
- Gregarious- Smile and the world smiles with you. Meal time is not the time to burden everyone with your hardships and woes unless you are very close with your hosts. Smile, shmooze and enjoy.
- Guess- Ask questions, show interest in others around you.
- Giddy-Up! HAVE FUN! Nothing more fun than a guest who knows how to enjoy themselves.