the guest-host relationship

As hosts, we take on the challenge of transforming the privacy of our home into a shared intimate experience with our guests. They dip into our private life, but they don’t go all the way in. There are still parts of our home that we keep out of sight when we have company. And that’s for everybody’s comfort. So as hosts, we’ve committed to making our guests feel comfortable about penetrating our privacy.

As guests, we should be mutually invested. We should want for our host to feel just at home as they always do. This interplay can be either seamless or disastrous. The key is to simply observe. Take note of what’s happening around you and make adjustments if needed.

  • Observe any obvious rules. Many people have little micro systems that help along the operation that is the home. should you take your shoes off? if you’re unsure just ask.
  • Offer your help. offer to clear the table, wash the dishes, etc. Your host may decline. But they also may be in need of a hand.
  • Don’t be dirty. Throw away your candy wrappers and take your cups to the sink.
  • Bonus: Bring a gift. bring a bottle of wine, a side dish, a dessert, a house plant, some flowers, something for the kitchen. When it comes to housewarming gifts A good rule of thumb is to make it more about the host than the house. Bring something that will make the host feel good.

It takes a little bit more prep to be a host than it does a guest. As hosts, we assume the role of provider. We should provide our guests with what they need to be comfortable. Even if we expect them to get their own water, they should have enough information or clues) to be able to do so.

Not everyone we bring into our home gets a grand tour and a peak into the the quieter more intimate rooms. Many guests sit with us in the front room, the living room, the kitchen or in a combination of these areas. We can ensure they stay there with subtle environmental cues such as closed doors, rooms dividers, etc. If the house is a place for roaming then make that known. Leave little lights on in rooms with open doors.

In the public areas, be sure to have these elements:

  • Seating: Company shouldn’t have to guess or hesitate when it’s time to sit. Make it so they know exactly where to take a seat and make sure that seat is comfortable. Aching muscles from uneasy chairs is not conducive to good conversation. Five is a safe number. At any moment, there should be seating for at least five people. Maybe you have a three person couch and a love seat. Or bar stools and a kitchen table. The number obviously increases if you’re expecting more guests. And they might not automatically want a seat, but they should know the option is there.
  • Surface Space: Whether someone is expected to sit with you all day or drops in for a micro visit, There should be a clear surface in an obvious location for them to set a phone, a bag, a drink, or anything they need to set down for the sake of free hands.
  • A Clean kitchen: Be sure to have available dishes, wiped down surfaces, swept floors and even some snacks or drinks.
    • Empty Trashcan/Empty Sink: Empty really means not overflowing. A couple cups in the sink is no big deal. A half full trash can is no big deal. But having space for more is important. Throwing away trash or setting dishes in the sink shouldn’t feel or look like a game of Jenga.

In the private spaces, for overnight guests, be sure to have these elements.

  • Clean Sheets: Replace sheets, pillow cases and blankets where your guests are sleeping. No one wants to sleep in anyone else’s body dust.
  • A Clean Bathroom: Washcloths, hand towels, bath towels, tub and toilet. Clean it all. There should again be no guess work when it’s time for company to use the bathroom. And there should be no disgust either.
  • Surface Space: Just like in the living room, guests will need a place to put their personals.

It’s always nice to feel at ease in someone else’s house or to have successfully created a home-like experience for your company, But it’s not only about making an impression. It’s about showing your guest or your host that you care about their comfort and that you appreciate what they do.

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