Our lives continue to be restricted by Covid and large parties are not on the horizon for the next few weeks. So we need to really enjoy and exploit the social opportunities that are available to us – small gatherings in the garden, dinner parties and overnight stays.
Having people to stay requires both preparation and adaptability. The visit will run much more smoothly if you think carefully about catering, outings and so on. But it is also vital to be relaxed and flexible, to respond to your guests’ moods and requirements, and to give them space to do their own thing.
Golden Rules for Hosts
- Check with your guests beforehand to make sure that they eat everything. If they plead serious allergies or intolerances, take the information seriously. Teasing, cajoling or hectoring someone about a ‘supposed’ food intolerance is simply bad manners.
- Make the guest room as welcoming as possible; flowers and some carefully selected bedside reading matter are a nice touch. It is considerate to provide the WiFi password, perhaps on a printed card.
- Road test your spare room. Check out the bed, ensure that the bedside lamp is adequate, that the windows can be opened, that the curtains or blinds are functional. Ensure that there are spare coat hangers and hanging space.
- If your guest’s room is normally used for other functions (for example a study or child’s bedroom), do your best to clear away clutter and neutralise the space. Guests may be disconcerted, for example, if they find their bed flanked by an army of cuddly toys or a teetering pile of paperwork.
- Make sure guests are informed about any plumbing irregularities or restrictions – if the hot water is in short supply at certain times of the day they should be told.
- Show guests where they can hang coats and deposit muddy boots.
- Give guests plenty of space; they may not want to sit in the kitchen talking to you all day, they might enjoy a lie-in or a stroll around the garden.
- Try not to make too big a deal about the meals you’re having to cook. Your guests will soon feel very unrelaxed if you’re flapping around the kitchen in a frenzy of noisy preparation.
- Don’t be a martyr, accept offers of help if you feel you need a break.
- If it’s all getting a bit much, suggest an expedition to the local pub. Most guests will enjoy the local colour, and it will give you some respite.
- Try not to be too managerial; suggest possible outings and expeditions (the guests will probably accede) but don’t present them with a military-style programme of activities.
- Ensure that, at all times when the guests are in the house, that you have offered them a suitable drink or refreshment within living memory. Don’t let them sit empty-handed and thirsty for hours on end because you’ve forgotten to make a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine.