Around the House: Make Your Guests Comfortable
By Yehudit Garmaise
Last week, we provided some tips you can read here on how to best prepare your guest bedroom and bathroom to provide your beloved guests with maximum comfort, but this week, we want to point out that guests have emotional needs, as well as physical ones.
To last week’s tips: Pessie Braun added she and her husband recently appreciated the shtreimel box for her husband, wig head, and some Advil that their hosts thoughtfully left in their guest room.
Prepare guest rooms and bathrooms in advance: When hosts rush to make up beds after guests arrive, guests are apt to feel awkward and perhaps like burdens. Freshly made-up beds and fluffy towels that are laid out are a room’s way of saying, “Welcome. We are glad you are here. We have been looking forward to your visit.”
Greet your guests with a smile and your full attention: Usually, on Fridays, we may be mopping the floor with one hand, while talking on the phone with the other, but when the doorbell rings, we should put down everything before taking deep breaths and welcoming our guests with genuine smiles.
“First impressions matter,” said Mordechai, who often stays with friends. “Hosts should ensure their hands are free to say hello and to take coats and hang them up in the front closet.
If, for some reason, you won’t be home when guests arrive, try to have children, or others home to say hello, show guests where they are staying, and where they can grab snacks whenever, and coffee in the morning.
Make sure to leave out paper cups, instant coffee, tea, sugar, and stirrers near your urn, so that guests can make their own coffee in the morning whenever they want it. Please reassure them that they can just help themselves.
“Hosts should genuinely give the guest a good and easy feeling that they should just ask where things are and take what they need,” said Mordechai, who appreciates when he can grab some coffee on his own: as soon as he wakes up.
Never apologize: for the state of your house or your cooking, if something doesn’t turn out perfectly.
“Everyone knows how chaotic Jewish homes can be on Fridays,” Mordechai said. “You don’t have to feel badly that your house is still messy when your guests arrive. When hosts mention that they still need to “tidy up,” guests might feel badly that they came too early or at the wrong time.
Also, no cook or baker has a 100% success rate. Don’t mention anything if a dish doesn’t turn out exactly as you planned. You made the effort to cook for others, and that is enough.
Most guests arrive hungry after traveling to see you: Nothing says, “You can feel at home here,” like a warm piece of kugel: fresh out of the oven.
When guests are from out of town: Shmooze with them about the area and what they need to know about directions and safety. Ensure guests know how to get everywhere they want to go.
When your kids aren’t angels 100% of the time, don’t make a big balagan about it. Parents who excessively discipline their children can make guests feel uncomfortable. Try to laugh off and ignore fights and messes, and deal with them later.
When guests move or offer to help out with serving, clearing, or stripping their sheets, let them, and thank them for doing so! Helping out can give guests the good feeling that they are also on the giving side and not just taking from their hosts.
Try to keep avoid any topics that could make your guests feel uncomfortable. Take care only to lead discussions that will not go into subjects that are likely to create controversy or strong disagreements.
photo credit: Flickr