Sunday, September 10, 2017

Reader Question: Making Guests Feel Comfortable


Reader Question for the Community:
I have a question, one I hope other readers will find interesting as well. What have people done for you when you were a guest that made you feel comfortable?  What are things that you do for your guests to make them feel at home?  This could be for an hour visit, or even a weekend.  Thank you, and can't  imagine my day without SWNE.  

27 comments:

  1. Always, offer your guest first thing, a hot or cold beverage, depending on the season..

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  2. A glass of single malt whisky or a good claret.

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  3. When I have overnight guests, besides putting out the usual snacks and up-scale toiletries, I put the nicest photo I have of my guests in a frame by their bed. (They seem to love this.) I also put a decorative sheet of paper in their room containing such info as our wi-fi password and the local weather forecast and telling them guests have kitchen privileges 24/7.

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  4. Yes, offer drinks and snacks promptly when they arrive. Bring their bags/luggage in to their guest rooms right away so that they can totally relax instead of thinking, "Oh, geez, we still have to unload the car."

    In the guest rooms(s) --- bedside table with wifi password, lamp, nearby electrical outlet, kleenex, flashlight, coaster. Nightlights in hallways and bathroom. Speaking of the bathroom - clean drinking glass, another kleenex box, extra rolls of toilet paper (and, just in case, a plunger next to the toilet), stacks of fresh towels/washcloths on counter, with travel-sized containers of shampoo & conditioner in case your guests forgot theirs. Liquid soap at sink; liquid body wash in shower.

    Tell them about the morning routine: "First person in the kitchen turns on the [pre-filled] coffee maker." (We don't have a Keurig .... too wasteful.)

    Allow for some unstructured, maybe "alone time" for everyone, among any planned activities. Often, whatever happens spontaneously turns out to be the most memorable and enjoyable!

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  5. Anon@11:55pm covered a variety of essential and very throughtful items. In my guest room(s) I set up the luggage rack, add fresh flowers, a carafe of water with drinking glass over top and reading material. On the back of the door in the bathroom are terry bathrobes on wooden hangers and in a basket are matching slippers plus a blow dryer for guest convenience.

    I've always felt pampered in hotels that provide a tray of fine chocolates or a B n B that offers homemade cookies in a jar and/or help-yourself evening nightcaps. We just stayed at our perennial favorite B n B in Cape May which offers afternoon tea, lemonade and cookies every day. It's so much fun to feel and to make others feel special which creates lasting memories, but don't forget to be the kind of guest that gets invited back!

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  6. At our cottage, the guest room is always ready for arrivals. I do many of the same things already mentioned and will add that I keep everything in plain site. Guests seem to feel more comfortable helping themselves when they don't need to ask where to find x, y or z.

    I plan meal options, along the lines of "waffles and bacon for breakfast will be ready at 8:00 or feel free to make eggs/toast/etc. whenever it suits you." I find this method eliminates guest tiptoeing around hungry at 7am but are hesitant to help themselves.

    I set up coffee pot, mugs, sugar, cream the night before. For whaterever reason, guests seem much more comfortable migrating to the porch or yard with mugs of coffee when 95% of the prep is already done for them.

    I learned to keep the kitchen and pantry area clutter free, it makes clean up much easier for me and any guests that want to pitch in with help.

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  7. The classic British decorator John Fowler wrote that the host of a proper country house always took the smallest, most out-of-the-way bedroom, leaving the larger, more luxurious, rooms for his guests.

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    1. That would take away one of the main benefits owning a "proper" country house. I have not come across anyone following following Fowler's eccentric advice. Guests do not expect their hosts to sacrifice their home comforts for them. Polite guests, unless they are family or close relatives, do not stay more than two nights.

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  8. I'm getting to an age and so are many of my friends so I always ask if there are any new dietary requirements.

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  9. If just for a few hours, the tried and true hack is to find out as much as possible about the person(s) and build the conversation on topics (e.g., gardening, sports,etc.) about which your guest can easily converse; have a mix of food they would enjoy. If for an overnight visit or longer, the above would also prove handy. I have a tablet at bedside for guests to surf the net (if they didn't bring their own device), a selection of authors/books downloaded that they can listen to, and a card on the table with a list of websites they may enjoy.

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  10. I think it depends on your philosophy about comfort. For some, and the comments here testify to this, the goal is to spoil and pamper their guests, gifting them with a 5 star hotel experience. My sister-n-law does this to perfection.

    I, on the other hand, follow a different path. My goal is to make guests feel at home. I bring them into our true family life. Yes, I provide beautiful linens and thoughtful amenities like flowers, water, etc., but for the most part these are no different than what we do for ourselves. My goal is to make them feel at home, rather than guests in our home.

    I suppose attitude is the key, no matter what our preference. My friends and family do not feel that they have "put me out" and imposed themselves on me in any way. I know this because they have told me. In fact, they hate to leave. This honors and mystifies me immensely. I don't do anything that special on the surface, certainly little of what so many expert entertainers here provide.

    But I wonder if it boils down to this: they feel safe, accepted, and loved. They can lay down their armor without fear. This is the most important thing. Our country is no longer as safe as it once was. We all need a refuge sometimes, a haven away from our own lives. If we can be that for our friends and family, then we have truly provided comfort, in the very real sense of the word.


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    1. Yolie, I love what you wrote ... it is so genuine and authentic!

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    2. You have a special gift, Yolie, one that each of us should strive to attain when it comes to making friends, family and guests welcomed and comfortable. Being genuine and authentic is the best we can give of ourselves. Thank you for sharing your wonderful perspective.

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    3. Beautiful and perfect. This should be what we all strive for instead of trying to impress.

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    4. You bring up a good point Preppy Mountain Farmer. Trying to impress others is usually a self-centered pursuit which includes showing off or one-upping others, and it comes across as truly insincere and off-putting. No matter what a person's style of hosting involves, if what they do is focused on the guest and their ultimate comfort (the guest can sense the difference), it doesn't matter if it's the most pared down experience or one that indulges the guest with pampering. While it's important to be yourself, it's not wrong to put out your best and go the extra mile to make the guest feel special. Creating good memories is important in this case. People are all different and have a variety of expectations through varied experiences. While maintaining an individual style, a good host knows how to read her guests and strives to give them his or her best. And a good host knows that incorporating the guest into the daily routine of working together makes good sense. The guest knows that the host isn't there to serve their needs 24/7 and finds ways to be helpful or get out of the host's way to find things to do in the down time. Host and guest skills are often a fine balancing act.

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  11. I do all the above, plus put them to work! Nothing heavy-duty, i.e. help in making a meal, help w/ gardening, feeding barn animals, etc. I feel like my guest and I become more relaxed if we are working side by side on a common objective. Because I am not awed by anyone, I would put the likes of Prince Charles to work, Hillary Clinton, Mike Pence, etc. and I promise they would enjoy themselves.

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    1. I don't know about this. For instance -- if, after a very stressful and exhausting period at work, I can finally escape to my sister's beautiful mountainside home in northern New England, I wouldn't want her to say, "Hey, make sure you don't sleep late tomorrow - we've got some weeding to do!" Plus, working usually requires work clothes and footwear which means extra stuff to pack (if your host/ess alerted you to that activity, that is, and if s/he didn't, you wouldn't want to sully your regular clothes & shoes ... and if you had to, or were expected to, that might cause resentment.)

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    2. One of my favorite memories in life as an adult, was having the best talk w/ my father at his 1,000 acre farm. He needed someone to hold the burlap bag, while he shoveled in dried manure for flower gardens. I was raised to be a work alcoholic, I don't have time to sit around and entertain someone. If they visit me, they're going to have to toll the line (in a fun way of course). Guess I learned this concept from my grandparents, aunts and uncles. I never visited their principle farms without offering to help feed livestock, drive tractor, garden, etc. The first question out of my mouth when I arrived was, "Is there anything I can do?" So by the time it came around to being pampered as a guest, I was wonderfully exhausted from physical labor!

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  12. Most guests I receive are, I don't mind admitting anonymously, rather undesired, so I have often had to take the opposite tack. So as to deter future visits, I find I must, while maintaining an impeccable appearance of politeness, manage to make guests feel distinctly uncomfortable. This requires an insidious subtlety, and is no easy task.

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  13. How intriguing! Would you mind divulging some details on how you accomplish this? I've been in the same boat, and would be very grateful to learn from your mastery of these situations.

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  14. Anon 9.11.17, 4:53 pm, this is Anon 9.11.17, 5:23 pm again. Just wanted to assure you that I was not being sarcastic or snarky at all ... truly would like to know how you effectively deter certain visitors. I occasionally have to tolerate them too - ugh.

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    1. I'm not Anon 9.11.17, 4:53, but may I suggest that you simply ask yourself: "What would Hyacinth do?" (Keeping Up Appearances) and follow through. For greater detail, buy the book "Hyacinth Bucket's Book of Etiquette for the Socially Less Fortunate."

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    2. LOL - I love my visitors, but the title is irresistible. Definitely include the book for guest reading material. ;)

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    3. Great reference, Averyl. I have the book and love Hyacinth, who is a hoot!

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    4. Hyacinth Bucket's tactic for getting her neighbor, Elizabeth, to leave while she was enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee...

      "'Finished already, dear?' I enquired, taking her beaker from her with just the right degree of firmness and solicitude."

      "'Apparently.' said Elizabeth. 'Well, yes. Then I must be going.'"

      "One of the signs of true politeness is an awareness of the feelings of others, and this Elizabeth displays to a laudable degree. Sometimes I wonder whether she is too precisely aware of my feelings, but I believe that most of the time, thankfully, she is not. She got up and made for the back door."

      "'No, no. Not through the back door, dear. Good gracious me, whatever kind of a friend would I be to send you creeping out through the back door? No, come along. We'll use the front door.'"

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  15. The classiest host I ever had offered me a nice cotton bathrobe. He said "I presume you don't travel with a bathrobe", and he was right. Now I have a selection of bathrobes, broadcloth not terry, in my guest room.

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  16. Just a small touch - but I have always appreciated it when my host provides a small tray on the night table for me to put my jewelry. That way I don't have to worry about misplacing things, the earrings falling behind the bureau, etc.

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