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The Art of Hospitality

Last post 09-04-2010 8:21 PM by Becky. 26 replies.
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  • 08-18-2010 11:03 AM

    The Art of Hospitality

    I'm the first to admit ... this is one area in my life I've never mastered. My mom always had people in her home and maybe that's what ruined it for me.

    We were expecting DH's oldest son and his daughter to spend the night so they could get her set up at college tomorrow. Just got a call informing us that two more people will be in tow. This family is notorious for showing up with little or no notice, and are used to sleeping on the floor.

    How do those of you who are used to company handle this? Having extra people in the house feels like an invasion and I'm stressed from the time I know they are coming till the time they leave.

    Any hints, secrets or mantra's would be greatly appreciated.

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Stages of Life
  • 08-18-2010 11:23 AM In reply to

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-06-2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,460

    Re: The Art of Hospitality

    Toni B.:
    Any hints, secrets or mantra's would be greatly appreciated.
    Enjoy the company. Pretend like it's a party or something and go along with an interruption in your life as a taking a break from things. That's the best way to cope with it that I can find. I used to dread having house guests, too, until it dawned on me that I can make of it what I want.

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  • 08-18-2010 11:45 AM In reply to

    Re: The Art of Hospitality

    I agree with Pat, use it as an opportunity to break the routine a bit.  Cook a special meal, go on a family walk, sit around and play board games.  We just had my sister and her husband over to our home for two days, they stayed with us while on their great migration to Georgia.  We really enjoyed them, I was very sad to see them go.  We ate a big breakfast one day and skipped lunch, rented a Redbox movie and stayed up late, went on walks two nights in a row to our local ice cream shops, and just sat around and talked.  Nothing extraordinary, but out of the ordinary for us and that was fun.

    Heather in CA
  • 08-18-2010 11:56 AM In reply to

    Re: The Art of Hospitality

    I understand, especially if the extra guests are people you do not know well or at all. I am sure these people will truly appreciate your kindness.

    I don't have a special mantra but what about, "this is an adventure and I will make the best of it!"

  • 08-18-2010 11:58 AM In reply to

    Re: The Art of Hospitality

    I, too, don't appreciate having company in my home.  I do, however, enjoy spending time with relatives and friends.  I really examined why I didn't enjoy this as it's a pretty inexpensive way to spend time with loved ones in my life.  This is what I found.

    1.  I had to spend a lot of time cleaning and trying to keep it perfectly clean.

    2.  I spent the last day 1/2 making elaborate meal plans and getting things made and special purchases bought.

    3.  I tried to have activities for every minute people were here.

    I found that this all added to my stress levels.  Then I would be wiped out for days and I wouldn't put the entertaining equipment away so the house always felt cluttered and my to do list always listed items that I couldn't accomplish.

    In addition I have a son, who has some learning disabilities that spill over into his everyday life.  He can either be extremely charming and nice or he can be a down right miserable.  I could never depend on his behavior.  This too added to my stress.

    Once I had those problems outlined I could find ways around the problems.  I keep the public areas clean, I keep projects to a room and try and finish them as soon as possible.  I find organizing things helps me feel in control.  The room that houses projects is cleaned weekly and hopefully, progress is made nightly.  In addiiton we have a three year old and an 11 year old who help in cleaning, as per their abilities.  It's not museum clean, but we're an active family.  People can come over as visit me without my dreaded gut reaction.

    I still do a lot of prep work but have simplified out menu planning.  I make a few purchases but don't try and keep specialty beverages for every person, unless I know their preferences.

    Now we do one major event per day.  It helps streamlining showers, getting ready, and the littles have something to look forward without becoming hyper stimulated.  We now use the outdoor fire pit and have a talk session around the fire, in nice weather. In icky weather we can play games or have a leisurely chat.

    This has helped too.  In addition, DS's is told what is acceptable and what isn't.  If he doesn't toe the line then there are privileges removed and extra responsibilites placed upon him.  It's not 100%, but it's much better than what it was.

  • 08-18-2010 12:53 PM In reply to

    Re: The Art of Hospitality

    Thanks folks. Due to health reasons we weren't able to make it to this granddaughters graduation party so its our way of making it up to them. They certainly aren't hard to please. I guess my anxiety is that my home has never been set up to accommodate guests. And one extra person is MY idea of a lot.

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Stages of Life
  • 08-18-2010 1:20 PM In reply to

    Re: The Art of Hospitality

    I understand about the house not being set up to accomodate extra guests.  The five of us live in a duplex that is a little under 725 sq feet, so as you can imagine space is at a premium.  When my sister and her hubby were here they slept on a blow up matress in the living room, and we had to move the couch to make it fit (I won't even go into what was under that couch when we moved itEmbarrassed).  It is a little nervewracking when you have extra people thrown into your mix, but I found for me that mixing up our routine a bit helped to ease the stress and made the time together more enjoyable.

    Heather in CA
  • 08-18-2010 1:47 PM In reply to

    Re: The Art of Hospitality

    Toni B.:
    I guess my anxiety is that my home has never been set up to accommodate guests. And one extra person is MY idea of a lot.

    I understand exactly what you're saying, Toni B.

    I had four extra people for company for a whole week two weeks ago. I dreaded it!!! We already have a small house, and this round of houseguests just about ruined me forever. My DH's aunt and uncle came over unexpectedly a few days before DH's parents were supposed to come and spend a week getting to know our new 2-mo. old. Getting everything ready for company with a newborn in tow is extra stressful for me. I found these were my issues:

    1. Getting my house clean. My DH's aunt and uncle are notorious for calling the DAY BEFORE they come from out of state for a visit. With a teenager, two babies, and a dog, our little house is always cluttered with toys, spotted with dog hair, and covered with carpet stains. I learned that much of my stress over house guests is in the preparation for their arrival.

    2. Grocery shopping. Neither DH nor I are working right now, so money is especially tight. Trying to plan meals and snacks for 8 people, two of whom are diabetic and need low-carb, two of whom are on blood-thinners and can't eat dark greens, and one who follows a strict diet by choice is kind of hard to do. I made meal plans the best I could, but that was an expensive undertaking for our budget.

    3. Chasing after and entertaining my toddler when we were out of the house. After all my grocery shopping and meal planning, my guests all wanted to eat out! I know they were trying to be thoughtful of our money and didn't want to eat us out of house and home, but going out to eat with a newborn and an 18-mo. old is a nightmare for me! My 18 month old is very active, and can't sit still in a high chair for the amount of time it takes to read a menu, wait for the food, eat, then chat afterwards. No amount of toys will keep him still for that long. Generally speaking, when my family can afford to go to a restaurant these days, we are looking UP at a menu, not DOWN, LOL.

    3. Entertaining the houseguests. I am nursing my baby, who is hungry every hour or two. Normally I'd nurse right in the living room, my family is used to it. But houseguests are a different matter. Every time I needed to feed the baby I had to excuse myself to a different room for about 20 minutes. When I'd return, they'd swamp me with requests. One morning, my FIL asked if I had PB and graham crackers because his blood sugar was low, my MIL wanted to know if I could empy the dryer lint trap for her, my DH wanted to know what I would make for breakfast, my DD was in tears because she had just found out that her new school schedule was wrong, and my toddler was just downright screaming, and no one was taking care of him. I lost my temper, to put it lightly. Everyone needed me all at once, and I couldn't handle it.

    4. Making room for people to feel at home. My house is very small, so any extra houseguest requires us to rearrange things to make extra space. DH and I give up our room and stay in the babies' room. My in-laws literally TAKE OVER our room. They are really bad about leaving their medication and diabetic supplies out, so I am constantly needing to keep the door closed so my toddler doesn't get in there. They use the ironing board as a table, so now I can't iron any clothes. I just generally feel like my space has been invaded when they come. They also bring their yappy little ankle-biter dog, which is another rant. My 55-lb. dog is very well behaved, great with the kids, and knows the rules of the house. The in-laws' dog doesn't. She is a little 7 lb. terror. Up on the furniture, nipping at me when she doesn't get her way, begging and barking for table scraps, just downright mean. They let the dog run the house, IMHO.

    5. Putting the house back together when they leave. As I said, the in-laws are bad about leaving their meds out. They are both insulin-dependent, and more than once I've found needles they've lost. I've learned to go over everything very meticulously to look for any dropped pills that my toddler could swallow. Their dog has always peed (or worse) on my carpet, so I need to clean that up too. I need to wash the guest towels and sheets. I need to move all my personal items from the babies' room back to my room. (I feel like I have to rearrange my house back to its original way.)

    Wow, I didn't realize this was such an emotional topic for me. I love my family dearly, and I think my stress is about wanting to make everything perfect while they're here. Toni B, maybe you want to be a gracious host as well, and you get stressed over making everything just right?


  • 08-18-2010 2:57 PM In reply to

    Re: The Art of Hospitality

    slk2042 - To some extent ... it is about making everything perfect and making them comfortable. Some of it has to do with not being around a lot of people. Some of it has to do with avoiding certain topics which I know we will disagree with. I'd rather not debate hot topics but sometimes people bring things up because they enjoy antagonizing others.

    You articulated a several things that I could identify with. Ever since I became Diabetic, I've needed to change my lifestyle and come up with a strict routine. I found out that traveling is a big hassle once you get a chronic disease and are trying to manage it properly. I'm no longer really comfortable going anywhere and I have a tight routine at home. The last thing I would want to be is a thoughtless or high maintenance guest. I can't imagine leaving medicine or needles around for young children to find.

    We go to bed early and my fear is that they will want to sit up and chat till midnight but they have to be out the door by 7:00am tomorrow to arrive at the college campus on time. They love to socialize and party and that's just not our style. We live a boring sedate life.

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Stages of Life
  • 08-18-2010 4:38 PM In reply to

    Re: The Art of Hospitality

     I'd rather have a pack than a drip and dribble of constant company. But my friends say I have misanthropic tendencies (like one of my favourite writers, Ed Abbey).


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