8 Tips To Help People Feel More At Home
I have these experiences at people’s homes where I feel so at ease and so well taken care of and it almost seems effortless. When I have that experience, I like to pay attention to what these “experts” in practicing hospitality offer as a way of making people feel welcome. It can be hard to put your finger on what it is that makes you feel so welcome and comfortable. What is the X factor? The secret to good hospitality? I have brainstormed some ideas that I have either observed in someone else as they exercise their gift of hospitality or tips that I have found helpful myself. Here is my list! Please share in the comments about a time when you experienced a warm welcome and what your host did to make you feel that way.
Tip #1 Provide A Small Toy Box for Young Children
Do you have friends or family that have young children? An idea I love is to keep a small box with toys and a few books that you can easily pull out when people with young children come to visit. As you welcome the children in this way, you also help their parents have a more relaxing visit. The parents will be so grateful! New toys are a novelty to children, allowing their parents a few moments of peace to sit back and relax on your couch with a cup of coffee.
Tip #2 Be Prepared to Host Friends with Food Allergies
Do you have friends or family with food allergies or dietary preferences? Examples of this include people who are dairy or gluten intolerant or those who have chosen a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. I strive to be prepared in the event that someone with special dietary needs comes to visit. A close friend of mine has a dairy intolerance so I try to have a few prepared dinners in the freezer that are dairy free. Typically I have a few containers of chana masala available. When this friend drops by unexpectedly for dinner, I can take the container out of the freezer and warm it up. I enjoy being able to take care of my friend this way even if I had a different dinner planned that night for the rest of the family.
Tip #3 Ask New Guests If They Have Dietary Restrictions
Tip #4 Let Your Guests Help Out
Experience has taught me that people feel more at ease and at home in your space if you ask them to help out with simple hosting tasks rather than wait on them hand and foot. I ask friends to help set the table or quickly slice up some lemon for our ice waters and you can really feel that it cuts down the formality and awkwardness.
Tip #5 Be Truly Attentive
If you’re really hoping for a technology, social media or phone free dinner party, you as the host can lead by example and set your phone away for the night. Your phone can distract you from really listening to your guests more than you realize. An essential aspect of hospitality is truly being attentive by tuning in and listening carefully to your guests as they share their stories and what is on their minds.
Tip #6 This One Room Should Always Be Clean for Guests
If we feel our homes need to be perfectly tidy and spotlessly clean before having people over, we may never invite guests. People feel more at home when we can put perfection aside. However, my tip regarding cleaning the house is to always make sure your bathrooms are presentable. When I am home with my three children and life is crazy, I still prioritize keeping the bathroom tidy and clean. This is one room that should be clean for guests! Also, make sure the bathroom is well stocked with clean guest towels, hand soap and toilet paper so guests don’t have to feel awkward in asking!
Tip #7 Anticipate Your Guests’ needs.
Anticipate your guests’ needs. This is a skill I’m trying to develop. Some ideas are to provide water as soon as they arrive, offer coffee or other refreshments and letting new guests know where the bathroom is at the beginning of the visit. These courtesies are all good examples of what I mean by anticipating needs.
Tip #8 Get Intentional — Make a List
I suggest you make a short list of friends, family, neighbours or strangers that you would like to invite over to your home in the next 3-6 months. Then choose someone to invite and make it a goal to set a date as soon as possible. Prioritizing hospitality in your home does take some planning and forethought especially for those people that you haven’t seen in a while or those you’ve never had to your home before. Let’s turn our good intentions into action. I encourage you to invite someone today!
“Hospitality is the key to new ideas, new friends, new possibilities. What we take into our lives changes us. Without new people and new ideas, we are imprisoned inside ourselves.”
– Joan D Chittister