Monday, September 20, 2010

How to Be A Gracious Hostess by Bloom Guest Rebecca

Having been a guest in Rebecca's home multiple times I can unequivocally say that she is a wonderful, wonderful hostess. She is fun and warm and kind. Her home is clean and comfortable, adorned with the kind of charm that begs you to stay just one more night. It is pure joy to be her guest; her knack for hospitality and generosity cannot be overstated. I have learned so much from her about how to host guests. We thought it would be fun and helpful to have her share her hosting wisdom at Bloom. Thanks a million, Bec!

My mother would tell you that ever since I was a little girl, I loved making our home a peaceful place to be. I loved things to be tidy, I loved for the light of soft lamps to be on, I loved having relaxing music on, I loved seeing my mom’s face as she came into a room that I had worked to make feel calm and cozy. Now that I have a home of my own, I still love having my home be a place where people want to come and feel completely at ease. Since I have lived in many different places, all of which have been far from family, I have had the great opportunity to host numerous overnight guests. I have made hosting guests somewhat of a hobby. I absolutely LOVE pampering people that come stay with me. I have learned by experience that it takes a few tricks up your sleeve to host out of town guests and make it look easy…because let’s face it, it is a bit of a challenge. But with a few easy tips, and some foresight, you can pull it off and have everyone think you are magic by the end…wink wink…

1. Not everybody has a full fledged guest room, but make whatever space you have for your guests feel special. I always try to have fresh flowers by their bed, and some sort of a small gift or treat on their pillows. I get little hand lotions on sale and use those, specialty chocolates, or even a York Peppermint patty on each pillow is really cute.

2. Welcome sign: I know it seems silly but for our guests that come by plane my kids and I try to make a “Welcome to New York” or “Welcome to Texas” sign to hold up in the airport. My kids love it, and everybody loves a little extra attention right?

3. Plan your dinners. I always try to plan a meal for the day of their arrival that can keep or be reheated, so that I don’t have to worry about late flights, early arrivals etc. I LOVE a good soup and bread for a first night arrival meal. This is my favorite soup recipe. (**We have posted all of Rebecca's recipes in a separate post below this one so you can browse them all at the same time.) Also, remember that when people come visit your city they usually want to eat out a night or two at your favorite restaurants, so plan that in.
Depending on the length of the visit, I also plan one pizza night which makes for easy prep and clean up. I also try to have one meal already prepared in the freezer, such as chicken enchiladas or homemade lasagna. Cooking together is fun, but when you are off playing all day, it is nice to come home and throw something into the oven.

4. Lunch! I find that when people are in town we often grab a little something for lunch while we are out on the town. However I always stock up on some fun deli meats and cheeses before guests come. Get creative and get some fun ingredients for some jazzed up sandwiches: artichoke hearts, fresh basil, roasted red peppers, good quality bread from a bakery, or yummy bagels. Then, you can just throw together a quick sandwich that feels like it’s from a little bistro.

5. Make ahead Breakfasts: I love having a good hearty breakfast when people are at my house. This is my favorite make ahead muffin recipe that can last in the fridge for 4 weeks! It is delicious, and there is nothing better than the smell of fresh baked muffins. Also, here is a favorite recipe that I always make for guests that is always a winner called Baked Oatmeal. I bag all the dry ingredients beforehand then add the wet ingredients the morning of.

6. Snacks and drinks: I always have fun snacks on hand for movie nights, game nights, or whatever other occasion a snack is needed! I always have popcorn, fun sodas and I always make cookie dough ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze it in rolls.

7. Know when to go out, and when to stay in. Some guests are truly happy just hanging around the house, playing games, watching movies, going for walks around the neighborhood etc. Super Fine, Super Fun. However, some guests really want to see your city, so make sure you have some fun things scoped out to do. The Zoo, Botanical Gardens, Museums, Shopping, Plays or Musical Performances etc. I happen to live in a big city, so some of those things are novel to some of my guests. Just make sure you are not planning too much and just tiring everybody out. Especially if kids are involved…it will be a disaster.

8. Have a couple babysitters ready to go. Having a night out just the adults is SO much fun when people are in town, and if you leave getting a sitter until the last minute, it usually won’t happen so plan ahead on that one!

So Happy Hosting! I hope these couple tips will help ya plan ahead a little so those out of towners will feel pampered…and more importantly so you can all make amazing memories.

the happy hostess with her darling family

We'd love to hear any tips or thoughts you have
about being a gracious hostess -
things you like to do for guests in your home
or meaningful gestures you observed
as a guest in someone else's home.


Danielle said...

I love this post! Its been awhile since we have lived someplace that we can really host guests, but I think that whether they are sleeping on an air mattress in the living room of your tiny apartment or have their own guestroom, its just important to try to make sure their needs are met. It can be awkward to be a guest, so I try to make sure they have everything they need and don't have to ask. I like to have a little basket of treats in case they need a snack, some water and a few fun magazines in case they need a break from the action, plenty of towels...that kind of stuff.

I can't wait to have a real "guestroom"

Thanks Becca!

Lindsay said...

Wow! Can I come stay with you?

sarahandmatt said...

I'm sure Rebecca does this, but I ALWAYS be sure to have the bathroom stocked with fresh towels, shampoos and soaps, toothpaste and even new toothbrushes. There's nothing more uncomfortable to a guest than not having what you need! Whenever possible, I try to clear out a bathroom that can belong to them. It's nice to have a little privacy.

Joan said...

I have to say that not only is Bec a gracious hostess she is a gracious guest. She bought me groceries and left a surprise thank you gift on my pillow when she stayed at my house. She is genuinely one of the most thoughtful women I know.
Fantastic hosting tips, Bec! You are a gem to share your secrets with us :)

Mandi said...

I really like this post-- can we have a post on being a gracious hostess in the "here for an evening" sense? Like, what makes people want to stop by and visit-- feel welcome, and come again?

This has been on my mind a lot since I have noticed distinct feelings towards certain people's houses, and certain feelings AWAY from others :).

Lindsay said...

I love your tips! And I love your blog :). We just recently moved into our new house and we'll be having the in-laws stay with us from time to time so I'm glad you posted this! It gives me a good place to start with learning to be good hostess!

Heather said...

Absolutely loved this post! Such great tips! I probably wouldn't have thought of half of them. Thanks for sharing.

Abbie said...

Oooh. I really like this. We have A LOT of visitors and I always need good ideas on how to host them well because I like to make them feel loved. The frozen meal idea - golden. But I do have a question: how do you gracefully say, "I would love love love for you to come and stay with us, but our place is small and I can't do everything with you every day"? Because, like I said, we have A LOT of visitors and it's great, but it can be disruptive to our lives. I love seeing my family and friends, but I can't drag my kids down to the Statue of Liberty every single time someone comes because it wears me and the kids out and we have major meltdowns. I guess I should be honest and let them know, but I don't want them to feel like I don't want them to come, ya know. And I know it's intimidating to tour a new city. Aaaanyway, just wondering if you have some advice on how to be a good host AND ways to gracefully draw the line and things you just can't do.

Oh goodness, I hope that made sense.

I'll go ahead and hit the "email follow-up comment" button just in case you want to answer this really long questions:)

Fowler family said...

Wonderful post and such great ideas! I have stayed in Becca's house and will never forget the fresh flowers by our bed, the nice, tidy guest room, the yummy mints on the pillows. She is such a great hostess!

Bloom, thanks for having Becca put all of these ideas down in writing! And thanks for highlighting such an incredible woman.

Natalie said...

Great tips! Very doable and well thought out. I'd love to be a visitor in your home! Thanks for sharing!

Meta said...

You are the BESTEST host! Thanks for welcoming our family into your home last spring. Thanks for wriiting this post - now I know all your secrets! We love you!

Meta said...

You are the BESTEST host! Thanks for welcoming our family into your home last spring. Thanks for wriiting this post - now I know all your secrets! We love you!

Valerie said...

I love these ideas. I love all the little details that make you be such a great host. We are going to moving into a home soon where I can actually host people and I can't wait to put your tips to good use. Thanks for sharing :)

Kristyn said...

Bloom, I LOVE how you guys come up with things that I never thought I needed to know until I se it in writing! Thank you for this! Clever, clever.

The Ramptons said...

Thanks ladies for the sweet feedback! I hope you all have so much fun hosting your next guests! Abbie I completely know how you feel about touring the sights one billion times! When we lived in upstate new York I went to niagara falls one billion times! My kids could recite the tour with the guide! I couldn't handle it though! Too much driving and hauling my kids around boring them to tears. I finally made a "upstate new York sights adventure kit" I made a little bag of maps, fun snacks, bus scedules, lists of fun restraunts, right down to the best parking garages. I think if you make it look like you went out of your way to make it easy for them they feel loved, and heck anyone with kids should understand! Gotta love the statue of liberty but not a million times! Good luck Abbie!

The Ramptons said...

I think I should have used the words billion and million a couple more times in that comment! Geez nice writing there! Typing with my pointer finger from my phone dosnt make for great editing. :)

Abbie said...

Thanks so much for the advice! I'm totally going to put together a packet and send our awesome guests out on the town - and then meet up with them at kid friendly places.