Saturday, January 9, 2016

How to be a Good Host

The holiday season is in full swing and most people have already attended or hosted multiple parties and get togethers over the past couple of months. Recently, I was involved in an online discussion about proper etiquette when attending get togethers in other people's homes and I thought it was a great discussion because it is something that most of us have dealt with at one time or another. The question is, is it ok to ask people to do or not do things to accommodate you in their home? If you think it's rude, you are not alone. In several recent polls, most people agreed that you shouldn't expect people to do things differently in their home to make you feel more comfortable. In my opinion, however, when you open your home for visitors, those visitors are YOUR guests and you should go out of your way to make sure they are comfortable in your home. Subsequently, we put together a guide on how YOU can be the perfect host. 

Smoking. If you normally smoke in your home, consider going outside or in a designated room if you are hosting visitors, especially children. I cannot stress this enough as it is one of my biggest pet peeves. As a Mom of 5 children, if you invite me over to your home and you light up around my kids, you might as well look me in the eye and tell me that you never want me to visit again. If you cannot respect the health of myself and my children enough to go outside to smoke while we are there, you obviously do not desire our company. Many children suffer from allergies and asthma and could face severe health consequences from even a single day in a smoke filled home. Recently our 5 year old faced a scary bout of pneumonia. He ended up in the hospital for 2 days after battling a severe
respiratory illness for almost 2 weeks. When we were discharged from the hospital, the doctor made it clear to us that we needed to keep him clear of crowds and especially things like smoking. Knowing we had a family holiday party coming up, I requested that there be no smoking in the home so that we could still attend. I did not feel that this was rude in any way, shape or form. Unfortunately, there were several adults who continued to smoke during the party so I spent my night running my children out of the rooms where people were smoking.  This was really a bummer for me to have the realization that the health of my children was not respected and family or not, we will limit future visits as long as smoking inside the home continues. I will not compromise the health of my children for anything in this world and I should not be expected to. If you are the visitor and not the host, never be afraid or ashamed to speak up about smoking around your family if it makes you uncomfortable. 

Pets. Let's face it. Just because you are a fan of your furry friends doesn't mean that everyone is. Some people have allergies to certain animals while other's
might have phobias. If you are inviting someone into your home, hopefully you know enough about them to know if they have issues that would make them uncomfortable around your pets. If so, consider these things while your guests are visiting. If you have an animal that is hyper and likes to jump, consider putting them somewhere away from guests, especially elderly and small children who could easily be knocked down. When my sister and brother-in-law had a very large bull mastiff dog, I was not shy about asking them to put him away when the kids and I visited. He was a big teddy bear that my kids loved but he slobbered everywhere and if he came anywhere near you, you would leave slimed. My sister was never bothered to take her dog to another room so we could visit and it was much appreciated and made us visit much more knowing we wouldn't have the dog to worry about. If you are a host who has animals, keep your visitors in mind before you decide to host. Not everyone will appreciate slobbery kisses and being climbed over. 

Food. Prior to inviting your guests for a visit, ask them about health and diet restrictions. The last thing you want to do is invite guests for dinner, prepare a huge meal and then your guests are unable to eat anything you have prepared because of dietary concerns. Are they vegetarian? Gluten free? Diabetic? If you come to my house for a party, you don't leave hungry and I make sure of that. Over Thanksgiving, we baked both a turkey and a ham because my siste
r doesn't like turkey. It is my goal to make sure we always have something that everyone will eat. I go over the menu with my mom and my sisters prior to family parties that I host to make sure we have everything covered and to make sure everyone can eat. My Dad is diabetic so its important to me to make sure I have foods for him to eat that will not make him sick. Anyone hosting parties should be mindful of these things. At a recent family party, our very picky son had nothing to eat but dinner rolls and I felt awful that he was hungry and there was nothing he could eat. I would never want a guest to go hungry in my home so I always ask ahead of time before planning my menu. Obviously if you are hosting a lot of people you can't accommodate everyone but if your guest list includes children, try to make some little people friendly foods too.

Bottom line? If you are hosting guests, you are inviting them into your home and it's your job to make them feel comfortable. If you are the guest, don't feel shy about asking questions ahead of time. When it comes to my family, I am not hesitant at all to tell my parents and siblings how I feel if they are doing something that makes me feel uncomfortable. If it's something with my in-law's, I will usually ask my husband to speak up. If it were my husband's bosses house I would probably not say anything and just not return in the future.

What did our readers and friends have to say?

Megan W. says "I think it's important to say before you go to the house if there's something you can't be around or that you might need. That way they can make the call about whether or not they feel comfortable accommodating your request and if not you can avoid going there. It might be an uncomfortable conversation but it would be worse if you waited until you got there!

Madison A. says "I feel like if it's their home you know what you are getting into by going to their house. I would never make someone feel uncomfortable in their home.....if it's that big of a problem, don't go there and have them come to your house so you can tell them what to do.

Stephanie A. says "That depends. My great grandmother used to smoke in her house so we (the grandchildren and great grandchildren) stopped taking the children there. When she asked why we asked her to stop smoking in the house and we would bring the kids over again. I'm not putting my children in danger so you can see them.

Heather D. says "My kiddo has asthma and one of his triggers is smoke. I mention that and if the person insists on smoking in the house (which is absolutely their right) I simply thank them for the visit and explain that we have to leave. It's not worth another ER trip but I respect their home. Usually they just come to us or smoke near an exhaust fan or something. I can see both sides. If someone is your friend/family, they should understand if it's for legitimate reasons and not an annoyance.

Deborah T. says "My house. I pay the bills, my rules. If you don't like it, don't visit. When I am at your house, I follow your rules.

Danielle P. says "I think it's rude for you to ask them...however, I think it's rude for them not to consider others.

Melissa M. says "I think it depends on the way a person asks. We smoke but do not if there are young children or if we know it causes problems for someone. I would not be offended if someone asked me not to smoke depending on how they asked. We always put our dog up because he can be hyper at first. I think you should respect people when they visit. They are your guests.

Jacci P. says "Approach and presentation are the keys. Rude or not rude. We do not smoke so I can relate to going to a smoker's house. However, my first gesture would be to open my home to avoid it as it still lingers and my eyes are sensitive. However, I don't think it's rude to ask and explain your family is not accustom. If they are true friends, they will understand.

Barb V. says "We don't smoke and don't where there is smoking so we would simply not go to that home. Sorry but true. The pet lives there, we don't. It's their home and their choices so we must make our own choices. You can always enjoy your friends' company in places other than the home.

Wilma K. says "I totally agree with you that if you have guests you should go out of your way to make them feel comfortable but I think it is rude to go into another person's home and expect them to change their life to make you comfortable.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to answer on Facebook and Twitter!

So what do you think? Is it rude or acceptable to make requests when visiting someone else's home?


I love comments!! Thanks for taking the time!