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Simple Guidelines to Being a Good Host

by Omolola Ajayi
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  • These tips will help you in your duties as good host
  • Ease the awkwardness and discomfort for your guests with proper hospitality

How to be a gracious host

Hosting people in your home is more than offering an invitation or accepting a request to stay with you. Beyond offering your houseguest a bed to sleep, you’ve got to take steps to make them comfortable and ensuring that you do your best to make the visit pleasant

Making space for someone who needs a place to stay is a good thing but it’s better when, at the end of the visit, everyone (including you) feels great about the visit. Just as a houseguest has a role to play, every good host knows that they have an important role to play for a successful visit. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend you’ve always known, family members or someone who’s more or less a stranger, you should strive to be the best host you can be.
So what do you do to help your houseguest navigate a comfortable stay and a time that has the least possible awkwardness. Here are some guidelines:

Get ready, be prepared

Find out more when about the intended visit; get all necessary information like their arrival dates, how long they’ll be staying and other important details like if they’ll need assistance with anything, if they have any food allergies or if they have need of particular thing. This will help you plan for the visit better and it will help both parties to fine-tune arrangements. For example, you may need to shift arrival dates if you have other guests around or you’ll be out of town for a few days.
When you get all the necessary information beforehand, you will be able to work out the best arrangements that will work for you and them. More importantly, getting information about the nature and duration of your guest’s visit gives you opportunity to prepare.
Some hosts are shy about requesting for details of an impending visit like the time of visit and duration, especially in some cultural settings where people are expected to act like friends and family are welcome any time. Shying away from such questions can lead to great confusions and eventually harm relationships in the long term. Be direct; there’s nothing wrong in wanting to know when your guest will be arriving and how long they’ll be staying. It is unreasonable for anyone to expect you not to want to know those details. There are logistical, financial, emotional and many other commitments involved in being hospitable
If the person has a challenge or schedule that makes it hard to tell when their visit might end, you should know that so you can decide if you’re ok with it, prepare your mind and prepare adequately for them.
Once you’ve arranged a visit or an extended stay, get about preparing for your guests. Clean the room, supply bedding materials, toiletries for their immediate use on arrival, etc.

Make your house rules clear

Every home is different; you may have house rules that are different from what your visitor is used to. As their host, you have a responsibility to let them know these rules; like maybe a no-shoes is the living area, no smoking allowed, the time you lock-up your home or calling when running late and other things like that.
There’s no need to be timid about sharing these rules; you may end up complicating the visit. It wouldn’t be fair on your houseguest to get angry or irritated with some of their activities in your home if you didn’t set no ground rules. It’s also an unnecessary burden on yourself to keep mute and have to suffer in silence with things you don’t like (they may be a few exceptions to this especially with elderly relatives). It is always better to share your house rules at the beginning of the visit; if there are exceptions to be made you can agree on them early on.

Make effort to ensure everyone’s comfort

You and your household may be used to going without breakfast or lunch but you shouldn’t extend such practices to your visitors especially when it is a short visit. Unless you have informed them beforehand that you will not be able to feed them, you should make effort to make sure they don’t go hungry. In addition to meals, you can make snacks and drinks available and encourage them to help themselves when they want to.
Don’t force your guests to participate in outings and activities they aren’t interested in. Ask them before listing them to attend any event or accompany you on any outings. Going sight-seeing or attended a party might not be fun to them the way you think it is.

Don’t count on them for any chores

While it’s a thoughtful and endearing gesture for a houseguest offer to help around the house, your expectations as a host should not include that. Just because you have an extra person around the house doesn’t mean that you have to include them in sharing of chores. For someone who is visiting for a few days, doing this might be in especially bad taste.
If someone is coming to live with you for some time, asking them to do some chores is not so bad but you should try to spell it out in your rules from the beginning. Don’t make unnecessary demands and assumptions.
If and when you allot chores to your guest or if they offer on their own, please don’t allow them to do too much. When your guest is doing too much work, it almost feels like your exerting some kind of payment for accommodating them in your home. Another reason to guard against this is to avoid any exaggerated stories of being used or overworked. This is sometimes in situations where a younger person or family member has come to stay. You don’t want that.
To be on a safe side, it’s better to let guests be a support you call on infrequently when you need to in order avoid making them feel over-worked. If you can manage on your own or you have domestic help, it is better to leave your visitors out of any house chores except for taking care of their own space. You’ll be a more gracious host that way.

Be thoughtful

Think about all the little things they might need or not bring along; slippers, towels, shampoo, extra bed sheets, Vaseline, etc. Make sure you provide what they can use as they come in before they have time to do their own shopping.
Make sure you prepare the spare bedroom or the designated space for your guests; clear out personal belongs and other encroaching items so they don’t feel like they’re intruding. Where your space is limited and moving things around may not be possible, try to reassure them that they’re not a bother.
Be thoughtful also in giving visitors their own space; avoid intruding in the bedroom or space you’ve provided for them throughout the period of their stay.

Help them navigate your home

Show your guests how to use all the essential gadgets and items; remotes for TV and other electronics, dishwashers, washing machines; keys for all the doors and where other stuff goes. If you have little children around, put away breakables and other dangerous items.
Guide your visitors on what they are allowed to use, like a room, a library or items that they can use when the need arises. Point them in the right direction so you won’t have to complain. Help them with where they can find supplies like toilet paper, detergent, extra towels, bed sheets and so on. If there’s anything you really wouldn’t want your guests to touch, use, know about, it’s just best to put them away out of their sight and reach.

Don’t be nit-picky

Your visitors are quite different from you; some of them may not have the same cleaning and etiquette standards as you. This is why you’ve got to be accommodating and tolerant. While a good guest shouldn’t be indifferent to their host’s standards, a gracious host must avoid nit-picking and fussiness. That can make a guest uncomfortable.
Overlook a lot of faults and if they aren’t doing stuff right, just adjust or correct it without their awareness. If anything gets damaged or lost in their care, be gracious to tell them not to bother and replace it. If it is something expensive, you can accept a refund if you know they are comfortable to afford it but if they are not, you should prepare the loss.

Don’t fret yourself

Don’t fret yourself about anything. Take time off to rest as your visitors also get to rest. Continue with your normal life schedule as you adapt to having someone else in your home. Go further and try to enjoy it. Make sure you and your guest inform each other of your outings and movements so that no one has to worry.

Don’t sacrifice yourself

If your guests have made any requests you’re not comfortable meeting, you don’t have to do it. Whether it’s something you can’t afford or comfortable doing, you have a right to deny such requests. Don’t attempt to be a people-pleaser to your own detriment. If anyone has made a request to visit or stay over when it’s inconvenient for you, you have a right to decline such a request.

You should always your best to be a kind, gracious and hospitable host who makes visiting stress-free and enjoyable. This requires good communication, composure, kindness, patience, generosity, self-control and firmness. Being a good host or hostess is a skill to be desired so you shouldn’t shy away from opening your home to people as you will always learn something with each visitor and hone your skills. Don’t forget to be true to yourself

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