Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hostess With the Mostest

Christmas will soon be here, and along with it, the guests will be arriving.

Christmas carols are playing, and the home and hearth has been decorated.  Gifts are being purchased and wrapped, and menus are being planned.  Finally, the guest accommodations are being readied.

And oh yes, there will be guests.

It all reminds me of one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation."

In one especially memorable part of the movie, the doorbell rings, giving an ominous series of tones, as the company arrives and is heard as they are already arguing out on the porch.

Oh yes, the company will arrive.  And stay, for years  at least a week.

I do not claim to be Martha Stewart, or even to be a hostess with the mostest, but I have had many overnight guests over the years, sometimes even living with us for months.  I would like to think I have learned a few things over the years about hosting guests.

Thinking back on those many holidays in which our grown children have returned home, I've come up with what I will suggest are the four basic components of offering the best in hospitality to your guests.

Snowman and tree themed bathroom
1.  An Element of Surprise

I've noticed that each Christmas when the kids come home, they enter, dump their truckloads of suitcases and other baggage somewhere right inside the door, and immediately begin the LOOK-AND-SEE.  They mosey on through every room of the house looking at the decorations, the tabletops, in the refrigerator, in the snack closet, in the bathrooms, and even out in the yard.

They notice and enjoy finding a few new Christmas ornaments, a new tabletop decoration, or perhaps even a new Christmas spread on the guest bed or a small bag of truffles hanging on the guest room door.  Maybe a bathroom decorated in a new Christmas theme.  Some mysterious presents under the Christmas tree that they weren't expecting.  The Christmas tree pickle - is it gone this year or just hidden really well?

It's as if the wonder of being a small child at Christmas has never left them.  And indeed, it probably hasn't.

Create some wonder and place a few surprises for your guests to discover.

2.  Tradition

Even though you may add a few new surprises to your holiday happenings, make sure you keep the decades old family traditions in place.  Your family will look for them and expect them.  And, if your family is anything like mine, they will be upset if they are missing.

I remember the year the hubby and I mentioned the possibility of skipping the Christmas tree.  There were some stressful health issues going on in our lives at the time, and it just seemed easier to forego the tree that year.  However, the family let us know in no uncertain terms that if we wanted them to even consider coming home for the holidays, there had better be a tree, a large tree, and no shortcuts with the decorations, either.

You surely know which are your family's favorite traditions.  Keep the good stuff.

Granddaughter Ellie - Christmas 2012
3.  Comfort

It almost goes without saying that to extend good hospitality, you must have a comfortable place for your guests to stay.  Whether you have lavish guests rooms in abundance, or a very small place with simply a sofa bed or an air mattress, provide clean linens and towels.  Your guests should not have to wonder if they are sleeping in a dirty bed, or have to search to find themselves towels.

Honor your guests by trying to anticipate what would make them the most comfortable staying in your home.

Be selfless.

Do you need to tidy up more than usual?  Do you need to turn up the heat a bit?  Do you need to plan your meals and pantry supplies with your guests in mind?  Will tiny children be crawling on your floors or trying to finger your electrical outlets?  Can you help in any way to accommodate the feeding, bathing and sleeping needs of your younger guests?

A person having a true heart of hospitality will always do whatever they can to make their guests feel comfortable and welcome.  Make it more about them than you.

4.  Fun

Simply put, if it's not fun to visit you, people will not want to be guests in your home.

Babies will be cranky sometimes.  Small children make messes.  They spill things.  They break things.  Big people bring clutter and make their own kinds of messes in your home.  Can you accept these these disruptions without a reaction that makes your guests feel bad?  Can you relax and go with the flow, enjoying the time you have together?

Things are just things and can usually be replaced or cleaned up.  They don't really matter.  It's the time spent with those you love that is the most important thing.  Plan fun activities together and be generous, to the best of your ability.

If your home is a fun place to gather, gather they will, believe me.

And you won't have to beg them to come, either.


  1. Good advice, now, can I bring my dogs along? (grin). Dogs like Christmas, too.

  2. Never really have had company for Christmas. But when we had a house I used to decorate every room at Christmas time. Now it's very simple. A small tree and my Nativity set.

  3. When can I come...don't even have dogs, just a husband!!! ha ha ha