Long before I became a hotelier, I hosted friends and family during the summer in Long Island and Cape Cod. These small houses were home to many dinner parties, picnics and poolside cocktails. But some guests were invited back and some were not. There will never be a way that I’ll be able to tell someone why I never invited them back but I know why and I’m sure many of my readers do. So I took the preventive route and came up with a few guidlines to help me become a better host and a better guest.
If you are a host, be clear on what you are providing and arranging. Welcome your guests and let them know that you have limited help or no help at all and show them around the house pointing out the sleeping arrangements, linen closet, the laundry room, the kitchen, dishwasher, garbage and bathrooms.
This way the guest knows where to take their dirty linens, garbage and maybe pitch in cleaning up after whatever meals you indicate you are providing.
Purchase a small blackboard and write out the daily plans. You can place one every morning at breakfast.
Enjoy the croissant, muffins, yogurt cups, orange juice and coffee. (Provide a small basket of whole fruit like peaches, oranges or even whole strawberries). Please help yourself and see for cocktails at 5 pm.
Enjoy the beach!
This set up does not require much refrigeration as juices and yogurts can be arranged in an ice bin and whole fruit does not require cutting fruit or cooking.
This way your guests know that you are providing breakfast and that they should meet you for cocktails that you are providing at a specific time. Hopefully your guests will understand that they should get their own lunch and make a group plan for dinner and invite you, the hostess. Whether you order in pizzas or take them to a swank restaurant, any host(ess) will be appreciative of your graciousness.
If you are a guest, bring a hostess gift. If you are a student or on a budget, there are so many inexpensive gift ideas. Bring a dozen bagels from your favorite place in the city, or some jars of jam or some of your homemade pesto and a basket of tomatoes or bottle of wine. If you have deeper pockets bring some bubbly, either Champagne or other Sparkling wine like the Cuvee Brut from Lenz Winery made the the brilliant Eric Fry on the North Fork. If your host is an avid gardener, bring a beautiful pair of herb shears or a planter. Or bring a beautiful platter to display fruit, nuts or hors d’oeuvres. Some dear friends recently gave me an “American Botanical Hostess Tray< made right here in the USA by Pennsylvania artisans, Wendell August, with a gardening motif.
And last but not least, helping out is also a gift. The guest who helps the host or hostess set up some cocktails or empty the dishwasher will always be a repeat guest at anyone’s summer house.
I would love to hear your ideas for hosting guests and maybe even hear about some of your /host(ess) or guest experiences that you would like to improve.