Welcoming Guests: 8 Tips

March 18, 2009 | By | Comments (0)

Spring kicks off in just a few days which can only mean that soon guests will arrive as warmer months tend to bring in long lost friends and family members looking to reconnect. I enjoy having guests but unfortunately lots of what I read out there for entertaining tips tend to depress me because they’re geared more towards the perfect housewife (not me) who is lucky enough to have a guest bedroom (also not me). I don’t have a lot of space — good friends have slept on my sofa and recently a couple had to sleep on an air mattress in my office/craft room because that was my only option as they refused to take our bed.

This is why A Warm Welcome, a book written by Amy Elliott who lives in Brooklyn and is a writer at Condé Nast really can help a girl like me out.

Elliott caters to hostesses everywhere from small apartment dwellers to to those lucky enough to have that coveted ‘guest bedroom’. Her book is really helpful because she ‘gets it’ which comes through in her writing and through her many tips. I also like that in addition to being a good hostess the book also includes lots of suggestions on how to become a better guest because you know, an enjoyable time takes effort by all, right?

Published by Ryland Peters & Small, this 128 page book includes many creative and useful tips along with gorgeous lifestyle photography to motivate you and get you in the spirit of entertaining. Elliott addresses space issues, includes stress-free menus, cocktail recipes, day trip ideas, how to create a cozy sleep space and tips on making the bathroom ‘guest ready’. I have to add that I really appreciate her laid back approach, it’s not a fussy planning bible but instead a casual conversation with a smarty pants girlfriend who really knows her stuff. We all need a friend like Elliott and now we have one, all 128 pages of her.


A few tips every hostess should consider according to Elliott:

  1. Give the house a good cleaning before guests arrive.
  2. Provide your guests with maps and detailed directions.
  3. Let guests know what they should bring (hiking shoes, club clothes for a night on the town, etc.).
  4. Ask if there is anything special they’d like to eat or drink.
  5. Find out if there is anything in particular that they’d like to do while they’re in town so you can research and make arrangements to fit something in.
  6. You may need to child or animal-proof your home if guests are bringing kids or pets. Page 18 gives some excellent pointers.
  7. Welcome guests with open arms with a quick tour, something to drink, offer to take their bags to where they will sleep, etc.
  8. Keep dinner low-key on the first night as weary travelers may not fully appreciate a fancy feast.

I particularly found tip #8 helpful because I’m bubbly and by nature I get really excited when I have guests and immediately want to pounce and over-welcome them with big plans, a big meal, and lots and lots of everything I can fit in. I have to learn to tone it down which I realize now after reading that tip and thinking about it and how it must feel for guests. As a guest myself, I recall appreciating a warm welcome but usually did not respond well to being overwhelmed by an overly energetic hostess because I was often tired from traveling. Good tip!


You can pick up A Warm Welcome where books are sold, I usually purchase mine at Amazon.com so here’s the link to the book on Amazon in case you are interested — it’s $19.

Now it’s your turn… please share some of your own tips on how to either be a better hostess or a better guest? Do you have a terrible guest story to tell? What about something funny that you did as a hostess, so funny you may never forget it?

(images from ryland peters and small and amazon.co.uk)