After some consideration, I have decided to rerun a series that I wrote on my previous blog. It was a series based on a 1948 Home Economics book that I found during one of my vintage shopping excursions. I adore this book. Although dated in some content, it is spot on for much of today’s living as well as it’s intended 1948 audience. I hope you will enjoy this series. (click here to read my original introduction)
This lesson was originally written on March 24, 2011:
Bonjour, mes amies! I am happy to be posting the conclusion to our Lesson #3 which has considered the “Happy Way of Doing Things”.
This lesson is going to deal with how we can be a “Thoughtful Hostess” and when the occasion arises, a “Welcome House Guest”. How do you think you do in these areas? Well, to tell you the truth, I think I make a better guest than hostess. In general, when I visit someone, I try very hard not to be irritating or a bother. I like to offer to help with cooking, cleaning up (except at my mother’s–she is a “one woman in the kitchen” type of gal). I try not to let my personal belongings get strewn about. I clean up after myself in the bathroom. If I am staying more than a couple of nights, I buy any groceries I can think of to help out–especially my specialty items. As a hostess, I feel I have much to work on in the gracious department. While I try very hard to provide for my guests physical needs, I find I can get quite “stressed” when someone stays more than a couple of nights.
“A Thoughtful Hostess” – “Whether guests are to spend the afternoon ( super fun!), stay for a meal (fun!), or remain overnight (not feeling the fun–just kidding!), she is mindful of their physical comfort. She directs them definitely when, how, and where to come; she has the house at proper temperature (very hard to do in this ancient house)…If food is to be served to the guests, she shows a hospitable spirit by having it as tasty and as daintily served as possible.” Can someone share what she thinks “daintily served” means exactly? Smaller portions? Served on china? Do I tip-toe when bringing in the food and pirouette as it is served? Just curious. And what to do if you burn the roast? Never fear. If something does go wrong, “…her apologies are not so profuse and long drawn out that the guests are bored. She cheerfully makes the best of the matter in some way, by substituting a canned vegetable for a scorched fresh one, or boxed wafers (I love Vanilla Wafers!) for homemade cake.” I figure this is just a good way for me to lie to my guests…”Oh, I am so sorry. I had made this fabulous, 20 step red velvet cake with inch thick cream cheese frosting and it accidentally got knocked off the table just as I was putting on the last layer of frosting…so sorry. Ginger snaps, anyone?” Seriously, I do like the point of not fretting too much over a culinary disappointment. Make do, move forward and concentrate on the fun you are supposed to be having with your guests.
And now a word about my favorite type of guests–the overnighters. As a hostess, one “sees to it that there is a comfortable bed, inviting with its clean sheets and other coverings; drawer and closet storage for clothes, the latter equipped with plenty of hangers; a frequently replenished supply of bath and face towels and wash cloths, hung on a certain rack if the guest uses the family bathroom; a water-glass; a soap dish with a fresh bar of soap; writing materials, in case the guest wants to write letters or cards; a lamp…near the bed that may be extinguished after retiring; a waste-paper basket; a magazine or two, suitable for bedtime or vacation reading.” PHEEWWW! We do want them to leave, don’t we?! Actually, I do provide most of these things for my guests–with the exception of the writing materials…truly never thought of it. However, I do provide access to a computer if necessary. I read Cupcake Caramel’s post about what a” hostess extraordinaire” she is–what she does for her guests are great guidelines for me to follow.
(our guest bedroom as been re-named “the guest bed-womb” which is what my dad called it after his first stay. i think the sloping ceiling and featherbed mattress topper had something to do with this new name.)
“A Welcome House Guest“– “There are at least two things a guest in a home should strive to do: (1) cause the least possible inconvenience to the hostess or family, and (2) be so pleasant that the family will want a return visit (Ha! Good luck with that!!)…He does not wear out his welcome; he leaves at the time planned. When leaving, no belongings should be forgotten, making it necessary for the hostess to send them to the guest.” (I thought of opening a UPS account for door stop service in order to ship items back to my mother). Other ways a guest can cause “great annoyance” is by not hanging up clothes, not keeping his room straight, and by giving ”orders to servants”. In this house, you have my permission to order around my servant, Master Bliss. Funnily, he probably wouldn’t mind–well, you wouldn’t know he minded. Another thing mentioned by Ms. Greer is being mindful of bathroom time when having to share one with the family. Taking up too much time when others are getting ready for work or school is very rude. I don’t know what we would do with just one bathroom when my folks come to visit. Just the time my father needs in this necessary room is beyond comprehension–- seriously…he’s a guy! what could take so much time?. I feel it is also important to add to the point of “keeping one’s room in order”, that this transcends to other areas of the house as well. I can’t stand the sight of clutter. I would rather my guest keep her room as she wishes but keep her many possessions out of sight.
guest bath where you will absolutely find fresh towels, new soaps, shampoos and all the “alone” time you need
Guests should be on time for breakfasts and dinners (of course the Hostess would do her part in making them aware of the times these are provided). I love this next point…a guest “is not curious about personal or family affairs.” In my book, this means a guest should not get the mail for you or answer your telephone, even if you are out, unless she has been given permission to do so. Also, “she does not expect to be entertained every minute; she appreciates that the family may want a little time to themselves. Hence she reads or entertains herself in some way…”. This is HUGELY important to me when I have guests. I hate feeling like I have to entertain constantly. But when my guest doesn’t seem to be entertaining herself, then I feel guilty–as if I am being that less than successful hostess I mentioned earlier. Ms. Greer concludes by mentioning, “A considerate guest writes a letter to the hostess within one or two days after returning to her home. This letter is often referred to as a ‘bread and butter’ letter. It is to assure his host or hostess of his safe arrival at his home and to emphasize the verbal assurance already given that the visit was much enjoyed and appreciated”. I agree, a thank-you note is always a simple but elegant gesture. I need to be more conscious of doing this even after staying with family.
Are you a better guest or hostess? How long is too long for a guest to stay? Do you think it is appropriate to help out with groceries when staying longer than a few days?
Join me next time as we discuss “Learning to Be a Likeable Person”.
Hope you all have a great start to the new week! Be graceful and grateful.