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5 Ways to Be a Better Hostess


5 Ways to be a better hostess - The Learner Observer

I’m going to say something you might not like. 

Your house?  Yeah… it’s not just for you.

Wait… what?  What do I mean by that?  Well if you’re a person who knows other people, it’s for them too – it can be anyone.  Do you know anyone?  Just one person other than the one(s) already living in your house?

Thought so.


At some point in your life, you might have that person or those people over to your home, and you want to make them feel welcome and good.  This was a major source of anxiety and stress for me this Summer when Alex and I agreed to host a small group session with our church family once a week for a month.  I was a bit of wreck the first night we hosted, but I learned a few things along the way and I thought I’d share them with you.


5 Ways to Be a Better Hostess

1. Stop stressing about every. little. thing.

Yeah… I never would have taken this advice all those weeks ago because I was too busy stressing about every little thing!  But remember when I did my Blog Podium recap and I mentioned that the ever so wise Sarah Richardson said that if you’re comfortable in your home other people will be too?  Well she’s totally right.  The more at easy you feel the better.  The less you apologize for things not being just right and perfect the better.  Your friends are not coming to your house to judge you, and if they are, well then they’re not your friends, are they?  So STOP over-thinking.  It took me about 3 weeks to start really getting this…

2. Think function over beauty

People will probably care LESS about what your coasters look like and more about how close to them they actually are when they want to set a drink down.  They care less about how your napkins are folded and more about whether they’re easily accessible and close to the food.  I tried to set up a food area and a drinks area on two separate surfaces of the kitchen.  I think it worked well because no one ever had to be waiting for someone else to finish preparing their tea to get to the yummy snacks.

3. Have everything out in the open

K I don’t mean like EVERY thing… I mean like the tea spoons, and the milk, and the plates, etc.  Why?  Because you might be cool saying to someone “Oh yeah you can just go ahead and get some juice from the fridge,” but your guest may feel strange and uncomfortable about doing that.  I strongly believe that when you have people at your house, especially if for the first time, you should be kind enough to get things for them AND make sure they don’t have to ask for it.  Making coffee?  Sugar, spoons, milk, cream, any other fancy schmancy flavouring or whatnots people might like?  All out there.  I personally think this is important because I feel most comfortable at someone’s home when I can help myself without having to open doors and feel like I’m prying.


4. Know that not everyone likes your dog (or any other pet)

Before having everyone over, I pre-warned my soon to be guests that we have a crazy, wild dog and that he will jump and try to steal food and request your attention at all times.  He’s harmless, he just loves people so much.  And he doesn’t get that not everyone loves him back.  Thankfully everyone understood his wild ways, and one of our dear friends even graciously laughed when he ran off into the backyard with her glasses in his mouth… It takes a special kind of person to just laugh that off.  I did find it important to let people know what kind of pup he is, though and I tried to make sure he was introduced to each person (especially the kids that came) in as delicate a manner as possible.  Luther doesn’t do delicate very well…

5. Consider the atmosphere

We usually had some music playing in the background when guests first arrived and eventually turned it off when our discussion started.  This is great just as a way to add a feeling of fullness to the room when the first few guests arrive and it’s still a bit quieter.  We also had chairs laid out in our living room (always more chairs than people) so no one felt awkward coming in to find a place to sit.  The furniture was laid out so that we could all see one another and conversation was also easy.  Pretty straight forward, but doing this before anyone arrived saves everyone from any awkward moments later.  Lighting was also a big thing here – The overhead light in the living room was never on.  We stuck to the table and floor lamps for a softer light that feels cozier.


So these may not be the 5 commandments of being a better hostess, (that’s why I called it “5 ways to be a better hostess”) but I honestly think they can come in handy.  They’re small steps to being better at having people come into your home, and making them feel welcome.  Oh, and I know I still have a LOT to learn.  Which is where you come in…

Can you add anything to this list?  I’m eager to know from those of you that live in small spaces. Our main floor is literally just a kitchen and living room.  We don’t have a separate family room or dining room or even a very big entrance, for that matter, but I felt like our group, which ranged from 8-14 people on any given week, fit just fine and we somehow made it work.

How do YOU make it work?

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  • Reply Tara @ Suburble

    These are great ways to be a great hostess! I love the “having everything out” suggestion – I think that people are far more comfortable when they have their mugs, teapot, spoons, all right in front of them.

    I think that if you’re having a friend over for the first – or first few times – that a little nibbly always makes people feel at ease. It says, “I want you to stay a while”. I always try to have tea cookies in the cupboard. :)

    October 31, 2013 at 2:43 am
    • Reply Thalita

      Tara I totally agree! Even if it’s something simple, having something to munch on is always extra welcoming. Thanks for adding that!! I also try to always have cookies in the cupboard, and I try to hide them so I don’t eat them all before anyone comes over! haha

      October 31, 2013 at 9:10 am
  • Reply Emily @ DavenportDIY

    Great tips!! We have 2 crazy dogs- I usually warn people or kick the dogs outside for most of the visit. I totally need to be better about not stressing about every little thing- just relax and enjoy!!

    October 31, 2013 at 1:22 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      My dog is so insane and wants to be around people so much that he barks incessantly if we leave him outside!!! The relaxing thing is easier said than done, but if you remind yourself enough times it gets better :)

      November 4, 2013 at 8:27 am
  • Reply Emily @ Two Purple Couches

    I am a Chronic Stresser-Outer when it comes to hosting parties. But? I LOVE hosting parties. I love planning menus and plating food and providing yumminess and a cozy environment for my guests. Oh, and my pup just wants to love everyone, too. She’s only 11lbs, but she can jump about 4ft high!

    November 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      You and me both! The planning part is so much fun then I get all stressed out that everything isn’t perfect. So silly! Oh who wouldn’t love a little 11lb bundle of joy jumping up at you!!!?? She’s adorable!

      November 12, 2013 at 9:13 am
  • Reply Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    I used to get REALLY stressed out when having people over; I always felt like things would never be clean enough or tidy enough or that our guests would hate the food. But the more I have hosted, the more I’ve realized that I’m my own worst critic. That hospitality is less about having everything “in order” and more about celebrating the special visitors! Thanks for confirming that with this awesome list! And hopefully one day, we get to host you guys here and I can put these tips into practice in your presence! ;-)

    November 4, 2013 at 11:27 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      That is what I STILL find myself getting stressed about! Though less and less often…thank goodness. Oh and yes, we would LOVE that, but we would also LOVE to be able to host you two over here!!! Perhaps when we buy our dream farm… then we can have campfires with s’mores and barn parties with twinkly lights!!!

      November 12, 2013 at 9:32 am
  • Reply rothj258

    I never thought to leave cups and things like that out for my guests. I love the tip on music playing. We have an enormous old LP player. Thanks for reminding me to actually turn it on. I am definitely an uptight host when it comes to big parties. This list really helps.

    November 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks Jessica! Honestly, I am such an anxious hostess – everything must be perfect! My husband has to talk me off the ledge all the time, but with a few reminders, I’m getting better! Also, that LP player sounds like it’s pretty awesome!

      November 20, 2013 at 10:44 am
  • Reply Crystelle Boutique

    Great idea to start off with music… Great ice-breaker!!!
    Thanks for all the tips!!

    hugs x, Crystelle
    Crystelle Boutique

    November 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Crystelle!!!

      November 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm
  • Reply Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

    Thanks so much for sharing with Wednesday’s Adorned Link Party. Have a great Thanksgiving.
    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

    November 26, 2013 at 2:30 am
  • Reply Jelli

    Great tips! I need to take the advice of leaving things in the open. We always expect guests to read our minds and make themselves at home, but my sugar is nowhere to be found tucked away inside Tupperware containers and our salt is very often mistaken for sugar. Ick! Tweeting!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Thanks so much! I noticed how nice it was to have everything out while at someone’s house who made it so easy for the guests! Also, been there done that with the salt and sugar!!

      December 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm
  • Reply Meegan

    Thanks for your amazing tips Thalita! I am excited to feature this post on Tickled Pink Times Two tomorrow night. Woo!!

    December 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      That’s fantastic! Thanks so much for the feature!! :)

      December 5, 2013 at 10:30 am
  • Reply Tickled Pink Times Two #16 Link Party — MeeganMakes

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    December 5, 2013 at 9:11 pm
  • Reply Stacey

    Great thoughts on this subject! We just recently got a dog. Although she is well behaved, I’ve noticed that she does invade people’s personal space. That’s really a no no.

    Don’t laugh at this one but in one of our guest bathrooms we have all white very soft cushy towels. I’ve actually had guests freak out over how clean they are and not want to use them. Who would have thought?! I’m adding in some colored ones too.

    December 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Honestly, I’ve also learned that some people get dogs and others just don’t. It gets tricky sometimes, but if they’re not causing any harm it can’t be that bad, right?

      I love the towel story!!!! I never thought about it… We also have all white in our guest bath!!! Thanks for making me think on that!

      December 20, 2013 at 9:48 am

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