Archive for the ‘Guests’ Category

Service of How to Invite a Guest to Leave

Monday, April 1st, 2024

I’m the worst at asking a friend to go home. Some don’t get the hint. One heard me conducting business on the phone. I said, once I’d hung up, that I had to contact a few people right away. The person didn’t move a muscle.

When my cousin sent a text about her recent visitor, her incident resonated. The guest wasn’t as bad as Monty Woolley in “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” but who is?

Her visitor came at 11:30 a.m. and didn’t leave until 9:15 p.m.

Deb wrote that the guest “is a young woman who I met when I was volunteering for the library, and we worked together for Market Day and book sales. She was about 16 then. She since has become a nurse and lives in Wisconsin, about an hour and a half from me. She is over six feet tall, very slim, and has a great personality once you know her. She is shy but we have become great friends over the years.

“The last time I saw her was during Covid. We text occasionally. We are 50 years apart, but we are both nerds. We discuss our favorite science fiction shows and films, books, music, philosophy, and world events.

“I took her to lunch at a new little restaurant. They have a fresh menu and suggest a wine that goes well with what you choose. I had a delicious flatbread with spinach and other vegetables, cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. We stayed two and a half hours while she showed me all the pictures she has taken of her recent travels! I do enjoy seeing pictures of peoples’ travels but I can do without a narrative!!!

“When we returned to my house I politely asked if she wanted to come in for a bit. Finally, about six, I said I was hungry: did she want some scrambled eggs and toast? Thinking she might say ‘no, time to go,’ she said su’re!’ We continued to visit. She showed me a beautiful video game with wonderful music.

“When she left, I was exhausted. But I value our friendship. I am really not her mentor. We are just two people who enjoy the same interests. She suggested a field trip to a neat park or an outdoor event for the next time. Since it seems to be freezing cold, it will be a while!”

How do you invite people to leave your home or office, or do you suffer in silence?

Service of the Makings of a Perfect Dinner Party

Thursday, December 28th, 2023

I’ve been so lucky to have attended several magnificent dinner parties over the holidays. I will try to capture why I they worked so well.

It started with the hosts who were happy to welcome their guests. They worked as hard to create a beautiful table as they did to prepare succulent meals. Guests were honored off the bat. We appreciated the effort. Who gives dinner parties that often these days?

The mutual admiration inspired an atmosphere that was unanimously up even though some of the participants at one party were facing imminent life-changing circumstances. The most extreme: The parent of one guest is in hospice. She nevertheless made the effort to come to support her friend.

While the guests didn’t all know one another, they shared fondness for the hosts. The conversation was lively and informative and took all sorts of fascinating directions.

Time is a most precious gift, and the hosts have little to spare and yet they devoted hours planning and preparing to please their friends and family members. The result: Triumphs!

What do you think are the ingredients for a perfect dinner party?

The State Dining Room in Napoleon III’s apartment at the Louvre can seat 40.

Service of Guest Prep: How We Make Company Comfortable

Monday, January 16th, 2023

Image by Davie Bicker from Pixabay

To what lengths do we go to make guests comfortable? I had a boss who said when her wastebaskets were empty her home was ready for company. I attended an event in a magnificent Fifth Avenue apartment where the living room furniture was removed to make room for 50 elegant folding chairs for guests to sit on to hear a speaker.

If I know you’re coming, I’ll squirrel away stuff, neaten piles and toss, unread, material I’d been planning to read for far too long. You could hardly find a path around the thigh-high piles of magazines, books, newspapers and mail a friend kept in her apartment. Envisioning that scene makes it easier for me to send stuff that’s been hanging around to the garbage room.

A friend said if her guests don’t like animals she corrals her four kitties into the basement. It’s heated, they have beds and water there. She nevertheless hears them scratching to get out. She was calming her friend who was freaking about having their book club meet at her home. That woman housed her dogs at the vets for the day so that they wouldn’t upset a member who was afraid of pets. In the end, that person didn’t come. Sigh.

I’ve written about the outspoken editor whom I feared would have exploded if she’d seen the hallmark stuffed bear in the hallway of the Explorer’s Club where we conducted a press event decades ago. Management kindly hid it until she left.

Do you do anything out of your routine before having friends over to make them–or you–comfortable?

Image by Kate Trysh from Pixabay

Service of Good & Bad Houseguests

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

Image by 5460160 from Pixabay

I’ve been both host and guest many times, the latter since childhood when in addition to packing my clothes my mother sent me off with clear guidelines. “Check the bathroom sink and leave no hair in it;”  “Make your bed in the morning” and if there was a cook, “Thank her as well as Mr. and Mrs. ___ when you leave.”

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

An acquaintance awaits a two week visit from someone who doesn’t sound like house guest material. Long before arrival she announced demands regarding her accommodation reflecting countless quirks including dietary ones. For starters: “I need silence to sleep. No light.” Her host’s apartment is on a main thoroughfare. On learning about her foibles, were I the host, I’d suddenly develop chronic migraine and postpone the stay until 2035.

Most have had some memorable house guests. For this post I dredged a few out of my memory that mercifully had otherwise been long forgotten. There was an American stationed in Ankara, Turkey, who stayed with us in Adana for R&R. He sat for hours in the living room, drank whiskey and smoked nonstop without paying attention to where the ashes went. I envisioned holes in upholstery and rugs not to speak of fire and he wasn’t good company.

There are those who make a shambles of your home, leaving their stuff all over the place and the guest bedroom a disaster. If you’ve planned a dinner party coinciding with the unfortunate visit, and you like to entertain in a tidy home, the stress on the host is palpable.

Still others act as though you have hot and cold running help. I’ve lived through them too. That’s why, on the last morning of my visit I strip the bed and ask for clean sheets to prepare the guestroom for the next visitor. I volunteer for KP as sous-chef peeling and cutting as instructed, offer to wash dishes and if appropriate, invite the hosts for a meal.

I was told by someone who owns a shop that guests don’t bring house gifts anymore. Do or would you? Have you had spectacular house guests–either good or bad? To be a welcome house guest a person needs to be flexible, don’t you think?

Image by Anna Moskowitz from Pixabay

Service of Watch Your Menu & Words

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

When meal planning for guests we’ve learned to deal with gluten free, vegetarian and vegan requirements as well as allergies to citrus, a range of vegetables [for those with diverticulitis], and avoidance of garlic, onions or cilantro, on top of countless other foods distasteful to some.

Over the last few decades if you didn’t ask a first time dinner guest if there were things they didn’t eat it was at your peril if you wanted to be a considerate host. The focus on special food needs has exploded to the point at which it is a chore to mix friends. Some eat no meat; others only eat meat and dislike fish. Still others won’t eat plant-based concoctions or cheese and eggs and I haven’t touched on victuals on the NO list due to religious rulings. Yikes.

Now that we’ve learned to cope with food issues–meet at a restaurant might be easiest–words are today’s hottest minefield. We must filter them to get along. Here’s what I mean: I referred to another person’s son. You mean “child” I was corrected. The offspring in question is a they. And around atheists, watch yourself if you hear a sneeze. It has nothing to do with Covid-19. Never say “God bless you.” You’ll offend.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’m so old fashioned or some would say without spine or principles because I welcome any greeting that’s said to please.

I wrote in March 2021 about the private NYC school whose guidelines admonished parents to use grown-ups, folks, family or guardians instead of mom and dad and caregiver instead of babysitter or nanny. That was just the start of their list of alternative words so as not to upset others.

A freshman dorm, “Big Haus,” at SUNY Purchase, a college in Westchester, N.Y., will change its name to “Central” because the original moniker, voted on by students in 1989, reminded some of prison.

I recently heard of an employee who quit after two days because she claimed those training her were disrespectful. She felt that in showing her the ropes they were speaking down to her. She said, “I am a college grad.” So are the two who were training her. Her leaving was a good move for all concerned as she wasn’t in a business that welcomed overly sensitive employees who expected to be able to do their own thing without direction.

How, when entertaining at home, do you handle menus when you’ve invited people with a range of food preferences? Have you learned to watch your words? Do you feel sometimes that you’ve lost phrases that represent your tradition? Do these requirements or demands to be super sensitive to others have the opposite effect and rather than bringing us together do they feed and/or set the stage for our seemingly insurmountable political divides?

Service of Come on Over Sometime for Dinner or the Weekend–Just Not Soon

Monday, February 15th, 2021

I declined tempting invitations to visit friends for a weekend in the country last fall, family at Thanksgiving and Christmas and dinner at a friend’s apartment yesterday so when I saw Ronda Kaysen’s New York Times article, “When Can I Be a House Guest Again?” I stopped everything to read it hoping for a free pass.

She quoted Doctors Ashish K. Jha and Ingrid Katz of Brown University’s School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School respectively. They’d chimed in throughout the piece which ended: “So what happens if two adults are vaccinated? Can they get together without masks? Can they rent a house for the weekend? The answer to those questions, according to Dr. Jha and Dr. Katz, is a tentative yes, assuming everyone is at a low risk for severe illness and the community spread is low.”

Translation for me: I’m not packing my bags or buying a bottle of wine to bring to my friend’s place just yet even though I have an appointment to get my second vaccine.

I’m way behind others in socializing yet I’m still not ready to invite anyone inside my apartment for a glass of wine or pot luck. Not entertaining impacts what’s happening in my apartment. There’s a pile of shoes by the front door [supposedly keeping the virus off my floors but that’s not happening because inevitably after I’ve put them on to go out I realize I forgot something and walk all around the apartment to fetch it.] I used to keep a pin-perfect place should someone drop by and because I liked returning from the office to a neat home. I go out for short bits now but not long enough to require a welcome home to a perfect place.

But I digress.

What are you planning to do about weekend visits and entertaining indoors? What if your friends or family members refuse to be vaccinated? With my approach will I have a friend in the world by the time the pandemic is under control? Is your home as neat as it used to be?

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