I was asked a question regarding hospitality the other day that got me thinking. The question regarded guests with children who haven’t been taught proper respect for other people’s things.
Rather than answer this question directly, (I will talk about it later), I thought I would make some suggestions on how we can be good guests in other people’s homes. I love to invite people who, when asked, sound excited or pleased to be invited! They genuinely want to accept the invitation, you can just tell! Even if they have to decline the invitation, they leave you feeling glad that you tried. It is a thoughtful gesture to offer to bring something to contribute to the meal. When we invite someone and they offer to do this, I always ask them to bring either a salad or dessert. Even if I haven’t decided what I’m having yet, whatever they bring will usually “go,” and it is a big help to me. Do not insult your host by trying to bring half the meal, though! You can ask her what kind of salad (green, fruit, etc.) or dessert (will it be a heavy meal where a light dessert would be appreciated perhaps) or you may ask her, if she knows yet, what she is planning to have. This is more appropriate if you know the hostess well. Make sure to ask her how many people to plan for in what you bring; will there be other guests attending? That way you will have enough for everyone. You might also ask if there are any food allergies or things they especially don’t like–you wouldn’t want to bring a dessert or salad with nuts in it if someone is allergic to them!
It is a nice gesture of appreciation to bring a small gift for your hostess. It doesn’t have to be expensive: a package of napkins that are especially pretty, tied with raffia or a ribbon, is nice. Some hostess gifts that I have received: napkins, a candle, (in the fall) a jar filled with a mix of candy corn and dry roasted peanuts and, tied around the cover, raffia held a small square card stamped with a fall design and expressing gratitude for our invitation. I have received flowers (both from the guest’s garden and picked up at the local grocery store). Packages of tea are appreciated hostess gifts, and you can add a small tea basket, if you like. I like to keep a few gifts on my gift shelf (I try to find little things inexpensively throughout the year). Then, if an unexpected invitation comes, I’m ready to bless the hostess without having to run out at the last minute, which usually means spending more money than is necessary.
Before you go is the time to prepare your children for what is expected of them. Training our children means that others will enjoy our children and not dread their arrival and wait expectantly for their departure! We want to be a good testimony to our family, friends and neighbors who are not saved, as well. This is a whole topic in itself, so I will devote a whole post to it in the near future.
When you arrive at your guest’s house, be courteous of their neighbors and them. Park where you will not be a bother to anyone; do not park in their driveway if your car is leaking oil, don’t park in front of their mailbox, etc. Do not get out of the car in such a way that the whole neighborhood wonders what on earth is happening! Quietly get out and go to the door, greeting your host and hostess with a handshake/hug and a smile. This is not the time to tell about your awful day, how terribly the children behaved today, etc., etc.
Next post I will cover polite behavior suggestions for inside someone else’s home and table manners. 🙂 (How to Be a Good Guest, Part 2) (How to Be a Good Guest, Part 3)