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How to Be a Better and Less Stressed Host

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Hospitality can take all sorts of shapes. There are a few things that you can do to make it more pleasant for your guests and less stressful for you.
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If you want your guests to leave feeling like they’re truly valued and appreciated, try to limit who’s included in the group. Value quality over quantity.

When doing some research on hosting, I stumbled across a quote by Arnold H. Glasow, which says “Some folks make you feel at home. Others make you wish you were.”

I thought that was just perfect. He didn’t mention the perfect crystal ware or impeccably cleaned house or plush living room carpet and furniture. After all, that’s not what makes a truly good host. Hospitality comes from the heart, from a deep and genuine desire to make others feel as welcome in your home as they’d be in their own.

Hospitality can take all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s impossible to prepare for every situation:

Perhaps a dinner party you’ve been planning for weeks. Having some new acquaintances over for an informal “getting to know you” evening. Maybe an afternoon visit that unexpectedly stretches into evening. Or a quick change of plans that finds you bringing your family home for dinner instead of going out to a restaurant.

The only thing those all have in common is a desire to make your guests feel welcome and loved. There are a few things, however, that you can do ahead of time to make it more pleasant for you guests and less stressful for you:

1. Find out if there are any dietary restrictions.

LightWorkers How to Be a Better and Less Stressed Host.

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There’s nothing worse than putting in all of this effort to make a tasty meal, only to find out that one of your guests can’t eat it. Do your homework ahead of time and make sure you know what your guests can and can’t eat. I usually just ask “do you have any dietary restrictions or preferences?” when I invite people over. I also have a couple of staple gluten-free and vegetarian recipes (two of the most common restrictions), so I know I can always throw them together in a pinch.

2. Keep your pantry stocked.

It’s much easier to pull an unexpected meal together quickly when you have a full fridge and pantry. Want to go even further? Prepare some meals and keep them in the freezer—my favorites are crockpot meals and casseroles. Then you can just pop them in the oven or slow cooker whenever you need them.

3. Think about who is coming to your home.

LightWorkers How to Be a Better and Less Stressed Host.

Photo by LStockStudio/Shutterstock.com

Are you having an older crowd? A bunch of parents with young children? Plan accordingly. If there’s an older crowd, you may want to move furniture around so that walkers can get through, for example. Perhaps put a little effort into “child-proofing” your home if there are kids coming over. Gestures like this will go a long way towards making your guests feel relaxed and welcome, and you’ll be much less stressed, too.

4. Try to keep the group size small.

This is not a hard and fast rule. There are certainly times when the occasion calls for a large crowd — I’ve hosted plenty of those myself. It’s not hard to see, however, that the larger the group gets, the less personal the interactions are. If you want your guests to leave feeling like they’re truly valued and appreciated, try to limit who’s included in the group. Value quality over quantity.

5. Remember details about your guests.

LightWorkers How to Be a Better and Less Stressed Host.

Photo by LStockStudio/Shutterstock.com

The most obvious detail is their name—don’t be afraid to use name tags if there are a lot of people getting together who don’t know each other. There will be plenty of other things that come up during the course of conversation, though. Their children’s names. What their loved ones do. Hobbies or sports they enjoy. Personality quirks. Something silly their dog did last week. The list is really endless. If you are able to bring up some of these things the next time you see them, you will be surprised at how special it makes your guests feel.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you may be thinking this last suggestion is an impossible task. How could anyone remember all of these things about all of their friends? This is where modern technology can give you a huge leg up. I don’t make any attempt to remember every detail about my friends. But I do pay attention and write them down in a folder in my Evernote account. If I know I’m going to see them, I just briefly review what’s written in their document.

By following these tips, I’m a significantly better friend and hostess with very little effort on my part.