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Reader Challenge of the Week: Tips on Being a Good Host/Hostess

There is perhaps no other time of the year when homes are open to guests as often as December. The ending of the year, along with the many winter holidays, offers reasons to host luncheons and dinners and other fun events.

I've received some emails asking about things someone can do to best welcome others into their home. Below is one of them:

Hi K - Can you please give me some tips on being a good hostess? I want to take care of my guests but I feel flustered with paying attention to cooking the food along with all the other stresses of having a large number of people in for Christmas dinner. Thank you!

Here is a link to an article I previously wrote: "Etiquette Lesson 2: How to Be a Gracious Thanksgiving Day Host or Guest." I give five tips on ways that a host/hostess can better receive guests into their home.

But today I want to focus on the most important aspect of being a good host/hostess, which is making your guests feel loved.

This quote from Maya Angelou perfectly sums up what the heart of etiquette is: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forger how you made them feel."

We've all been in situations where we have been a guest in someone's home, and the host/hostess seems to forget that we're even there. Those kind of hosts/hostesses are most concerned about the food being perfect and ready at the exact same time, and their attention is focused more on the cooking rather than connecting with guests.

And we've all been to luncheons or dinner parties where different dishes are different temperatures because the timing wasn't precise, and perhaps the home itself is disorganized, but the host/hostess are paying attention to us and giving us a feeling of being valued and important.

It's always the second type of home that I remember fondly and want to return to.

Some of the times I've felt most comfortable as a guest were in homes that were messy. And some of the best mealtimes I've had were with a host/hostess who didn't cook at all but ordered simple takeout.

Remember that old phrase, "What's important is not what's on the table, but who is in the chairs"? Here is one that I use: "What's important is not what your home looks like, but what it feels like for those who live and visit there."

Every person is a gracious host/hostess who makes life better for those who visit their home, through a welcoming atmosphere of love.

So this winter holiday season, and at all other times, try your best to make your house tidy and the food tasty. But when guests arrive, focus on connecting with them. Show them love, and they will always want to return to your home. 
By: Kristia Markarian