If you’re expecting guests this summer, take a cue from Gardenista editor Michelle who has ample experience in hosting. Here she offers a few tips on how to offer hospitality while encouraging guests’ independence. As she writes, it’s all in the art of teaching: “It’s not that I don’t love my friends. Or my children’s friends. Or my children’s friends’ parents, or their friends. It’s just that I don’t want to see most of those people at breakfast. Much less cook it for them. I am very much of the “teach a man to fish” school of guest management. I encourage their independence and believe that being a good guest, like everything else in life, is something everyone must learn. It is the host’s duty to teach.”
Here are six of Michelle’s tips for surviving house guests.
Above: House guest rules, via Scandinavian Deko.
No. 1: Greet them at the door by saying, “Let me put your things in your room,” so you can corral all their stuff and keep them from littering their shoes, sunglasses, sweaters, handbags, and car keys around the house.
Above: Photograph by Cade Martin.
No. 2: Show them the coat closet so they will hang up their jackets and fleeces instead of draping them across couches and chair backs. Blame yourself for being a “neat freak” and say you don’t expect them to line up their shoes perfectly in the closet, although you do.
No. 3: Tell them the best places in town to walk to for breakfast and say “Don’t worry that you might wake me—I’ll sleep through anything.”
No. 4: Give them a street map; circle all the museums, subway stations, and liquor stores where they can buy wine for you. If you live in the country or near the beach, tell your guests, “Feel free to use our bikes.”
Above: Photograph by Alexa Hotz.
No. 5: Serve cocktails at 5 pm sharp to put everyone in a good mood. Serve a snack—hummus and crackers are filling—to hold them over until dinner.
No. 6: Give them specific jobs. When they ask if they can help with dinner, don’t say vaguely, “That would be great.” Say: “Thanks, here’s a knife and a cutting board you can use to strip the kernels off these eight ears of corn.”
Are you stocked and ready for your summer house guests? For more tips, visit: 5 Essential Items for Every Guest Room.