Yes… you heard it right. Being a good host is an aArt. Some people are good at it and some really suck. Not that they don’t know how to be a good host, they just don’t have that Art in them and they don’t seem to understand it.
You go someone’s home as a guest and you feel great about those few hours you spend. You want to spend more time at their home and you feel “like home“. These hosts make you feel great about yourself and gives all the comfort that you need. There is this other category of people who you want to “avoid“. Even if by chance you go, you feel choked and want to come out of their home as soon as possible. You are there more as a “viewer” and not as a “contributor” and “enjoyer”. You would go to their home “late” and want to leave their home “early“.
Over the years I have the privilege of being a Guest and Host aswell. When I consciously observe more and more… following are some factors that influence the “perception” of being a good “HOST”.
Invitation/Planning : Of course, this seems to be very simple and straight forward thing to do. Everyone in life is busy (as you are). Allow people to plan their visit to your place and give them enough choices on dates. It is not difficult to do this, if you plan. Calling people on the day of the “Get-to-gather” is a BAD idea (unless they have some idea of the invitation).
Don’t send a simple e-mail and expect people to turn up. It is extremely impolite to invite people by emails (this perhaps is OK when you have a 100s of guests to call). When you are having a private-family gathering, it is nice to call each family and invite. If you are calling 4 families, you are not excused to say that you don’t have (4 * 5 minutes) 20 minutes of time.
Homogeneous Group : As a host you want to take a special precaution and consideration on the nature of people you are inviting. When you celebrate some parties which are typically 2-3 hours, people don’t care what kind of group they are mixing with. But when you call people home to spend an afternoon or evening, they are expecting to talk/discuss/ jokes, etc…
You may want to invite groups where they share much “common” interests and not having “contrast” interests. e.g. some people are “Culturally” inclined, some have strong “Political” views, some talk more about “Kids”, etc… Considering different interests, you need to make a “sensible” judgment as to see who will blend and who will not. Few think that “diversity” is good but not to a point where people go into “shells”.
Lively Hosts : You see a smiley face in the morning, you feel great about the day. You see a dull/boring face in the morning, you feel the same. Our moods, enthusiasm and psychology is influenced by the people around us and the company we are.
You can’t have a straight fave and invite people home and expect them to enjoy. Hosts should be lively and friendly to have a great atmosphere. People would not want to be guests at your home and become sad after seeing you. If that’s the case, they would have stayed back as well. Very clearly guests would want to go and meet these (lively) hosts all the time.
Openness : Oh boy, this is so important to understand and implement. Create an environment where everyone if the guests can contribute and share their thoughts. Don’t steal the discussions and jokes. Guests may not say anything at that time but they leave a bad taste on them. e.g. when a guest is talking about “Slum dog millionaire” movie, don’t ridicule by saying that “oh god, don’t even talk about that movie”. In short, don’t interrupt, don’t ridicule and don’t steal the show. Give equal importance to each and everyone.
Some people seem to know “everything” in this word (at least that’s what they think). Dont worry about these people, these are the “real-poor-moron-souls on this earth”.
Cleanliness : Is this even a topic to discuss ??? Who on this world does not know that the house needs to be clean when you invite guests. Sadly, some people dont get it. Really…!
When you invite, it is your responsibility to CLEAR and CLEAN the stuff around. Understand that “CLEAR and CLEAN” both are important. You don’t want your guests to make way into the home thorough all the things lying on th ground. “I don’t have time”, is not excuse. If you don’t have time, dont Invite guests.
Guests can’t tolerate the wet floor, blurry/stained glass in bathroom, stained water tumblers, stained tea/coffee cups and stained bowls and plates. Yes… it is important to CLEAN at least the things that you give to guests.
Food : (mostly in Indian context) Food is the most important part of any invitation of Guests. We love to cook variety of traditional and modern food at home and enjoy with guests. Please do take some precautions when you are cooking.
Don’t Experiment : Your Guests are not guinea pigs. Please do not ever experiment on the day of get-together. You really want the food to be tasty and eatable. If you experiment and you get it wrong, you are not give a very bad impression about your self to that guest.
Make it fresh : This may not seem to be a point of discussion. But many high-tech people cook 1/2/3 days before they invite people. They think that, because i eat “the same junk”, my guests will also eat the same. If you can’t cook fresh, please do not invite. It’s not worth to have a bad memory about you.
Remember : You make nine(9) SUPERB dishes and make one(1) “SUCKY” dish; the chances are that people (like me) are going to remember that “SUCKY” dish for the life long. If you know something is wrong, you better don’t serve. It is better to have 5 average food items rather than 3-Superb and 2-Sucky items. You get that… ?
Send Off : You did everything well and screw up in the end is of no use. When your guests are leaving be considerate and thankful to them that they accepted your invitation and made it home. You need to be kind and thankful, even if they aren’t. When they are leaving, please don’t be watching TV and say “Bye” from your couch.
Clearly, one needs to be more conscious about what they do and they dont when they invite Guests. Inviting Guests and being Hosts is Responsibility and Fun too. Dont let your over enthusiasm or over boredom kill your guests. You may not lose your guests forever; but they will hate to come back again.
Be conscious and have a great fun!