Charm School: Hostess or Guest?

It's come.  That moment when you determine that you will host a guest in your home...or you've just accepted an invitation to be a guest.  Both positions require certain things of you.  We're going to keep it fairly simple here.  I am not going to go Emily Post nor Miss Manners on you.  I do expect that you'll be taking up either one of those books and start learning proper etiquette because the self-assured woman is the informed woman.

First comes the invitation.  If you are the hostess you have two choices.  If you want someone to come stay for the weekend or to attend an informal party you may issue an invitation  by phone, or a simply written letter.  Be sure to state the date and time clearly.  Say what sort of party or dinner you are hosting.  A barbecue for instance is generally more casual in nature than a dinner party.  Your guest will be best able to determine what is appropriate wear if you are clear. Try to be clear about how many people you plan to have attending.

When guests arrive, no matter how well you know them, the hostess always rises to greet them.    If introductions are to be made a simple set of rules will help.

Present younger people to older people:
"Mother I would like you to meet Paul Brown."

Present a man to a woman:
"Ann  I would like you to meet Bob Kirkpatrick.  Bob, Ann Jenkins."

Present less prominent people to more prominent:
" Dr. Garner I'd like you to meet Bob Kirkpatrick."

Always mention the last names of the persons you are introducing.

If you have invited a guest for the weekend, when they arrive, be sure to take them to the room they are to occupy. 

As hostess, you should prepare the room.  Fresh sheets on the bed, fresh flowers if you have them.  Have a supply of fresh towels in the room to be used by the guest.  I think it's nice to include a carafe of water and a glass (or a bottle of water).  Be sure there is space in the closet and hangers for hanging clothes, as well as an empty drawer or two for clothing.   Show them where to find an extra blanket if needed (best if folded neatly at foot of bed in my opinion), and tell them where snacks might be found and what you have.

Be sure to include guests in conversations and do ask if they require anything further for their comfort.

As a guest, it is your first duty to reply to the invitation.  If you were called then you may reply during the call.  If a written invitation, then you may reply in writing, but keep it as informal as the invitation. 

Bring your own toiletries.  You should fit yourself into the atmosphere of the home.  You should not be entirely dependent upon the hostess to entertain you every moment.  Ask what time meals are served.  Offer to help prepare food or to clean up after.  Make your own bed and put away your things so that the room is neat during your stay.  If the family retires early and you are a night owl, then it's up to you to be quiet.  Bring along a book to read or magazines.  If a television is in the room, do not run the volume up, but keep it low.  And yes, it's also up to you to rise as early as the family normally does. 

At the end of visit, tell your hostess how much you enjoyed being a guest.  After your visit, when you have returned home, then send a pleasant thank you note.  Include a token of thanks, such as a book, a box of candy, or send flowers. 

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