Hospitality Practicum


It’s a still, quiet morning, and I have to admit that November is growing on me.  It’s a hard act to follow September and October.  But most of the hustle and bustle of getting wood in, cleaning the garden, canning, and trading tees for turtlenecks has been accomplished. 

The great work of November is preparing to give thanks.  We’re excited to have extended family and family-by-extension join us in two weeks. And I have a new cookbook this year: Thanksgiving 101 by Rick Rodgers.  Yay!

Our recent trip to San Francisco has got me thinking.  We were the recipients of gracious hospitality at every stop along the way.  Hospitality is an art; I find myself needing refresher courses at various waypoints in my life. 

The best way to learn to be a host is to be a guest.

The best way to learn to be a guest is to host others.

Here’s a short practicum on what I’ve learned over the years up through last week:

~ As a host

    The most important thing is to be welcoming.  If you can see your guests arrive, go to them to meet and greet.  Thank them for coming.  If you are in the midst of a cleaning frenzy, stop.  People are more important.

    As a host, give your guests the best you can offer.  Bestow honor.

    Give instructions in advance if your shower has a peculiar operations system.

    If you have a guest room, a pleasant basket of goodies can include bottled water, lotion, a mint, magazine, pad of paper and pen. 

    Find ways to bless your guests as they go.  A sandwich to go, a bottle of water, a bag of scones.  On this trip, one of our hosts washed the windshield and windows of our car while we were packing up.  He learned it from a motel (*some* motel!) and has done it ever since.  It was a lovely grace.

~ As a guest

    The most important thing is to be thankful and appreciative.  Express thanks for the efforts made on your behalf.

    It is good to bring a small gift: a bottle of wine, a bunch of flowers, a bottle of lotion, a book (of course), a hunk of cheese, or a loaf of banana bread. 

    Be accommodating.  That means helpful and obliging.  Help set or clear the table.  If there are young children in the house, read them a book. 

    Let your host know in advance if you have dietary restrictions.  I will gladly make vegan dishes for vegan friends; but meat is the default at our house!

    Keep your things together and out of the way.  This applies even when your host has a relaxed housekeeping style. 

    If your host doesn’t mind, strip the bed linens before you leave.

    Write thank you notes.  Really organized people leave them on the pillow.  The rest of us mortals send them within, ahem, a month’s time!  

The wonderful thing is that hosting and guesting begin and end with thanksgiving.  Gratitude is the lubricant that smooths relationships. 


8 thoughts on “Hospitality Practicum

  1. Amen to that shower one! I’ve been there…vulnerable as the day I was born…unable for the life of me to access the blessing of hot water from above. ‘Nuther one: Make sure your bathroom door locks, and that it, too, is explained if ’tis peculiar. And that in any case your kids are trained to knock first!   

  2. My dad’s house has a small guest bedroom with a double bed, a large rough edged marble topped dressing table, a trunk, a quilt rack and an enormous wardrobe in it.  This is where he puts us and at least one of our kids.  They put a crib in the corner by the quilt rack.  The bed is pushed up against the wall and you have to step into the hall to change your mind.  Dad’s girlfriend has had the audacity to complain about the lighting (I guess the lamp isn’t tall enough) in our spacious guest room.  At least ours has lots of floor space-even on both sides of the bed (and toys if you are of a mind).*If you have a bathroom exclusively for guests, don’t leave the towels out as they can get dusty between guests.

  3. Thanks for the pointers….I have a guest pastor from India arriving on Monday…this was timely.  He’s getting my son’s Oregon Beaver’s room for two weeks!  Sure wish I had the guest room but we’re going to make the best of it.

  4. when our guests help themselves in the kitchen and walk barefeet, then i know they feel at home; being hospitable, showing fellow feeling make me come alive – i guess being hospitable is one of my gifts… however, i love being a guest too

  5. Great topic, and one that I think needs alot more attention.  There is a huge difference between being hospitable and being laid back.  Hospitality should be more active than passive.  I love your tip about giving people food as they leave your home.  I once spent time with a family who keeps “to go” boxes on hand, so that they can give the leftovers to their dinner guests.  I thought it was wonderful!Thanks for the encouragement!

  6. Or bring a bottle of tequila (-:I like your points, Carol.  I like to have fun bathroom supplies available…a basket of soaps, lotions, hotel hair products, extra razors…all the things I might forget because I forget things a lot.  And I set out books that might be of interest to certain guests.Another good hosting idea is to let people help when they offer…or to even ask them.  I think working together in the kitchen is one of the best ways to get acquainted, and giving a special job to someone means that we trust them and consider them a part of the team.  John still remembers going to his uncle’s in Washington on Thanksgiving break and digging a ditch for him one morning.  He was a real help and he felt like a part of the family.I need to have company more often because our house gets so clean (-:Di

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