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7 Essential Tips for Making Your Guests Feel Welcome and Comfortable

From hosting a dinner party and accommodating overnight guests to enjoying coffee and cake with a close friend, when guests arrive at your home you want them to feel welcome and comfortable.

You would think that this is relatively easy, but for some guests, adapting to someone else’s ‘way of doing things’ can be a big ask. So, how do you make anyone feel welcome?

We did some research to find out about what high-end boutique hotels and restaurants do to make sure that their guests feels welcomed. And we found some great tips!

#1 The Guest Room

If you are hosting people overnight, you need to have a checklist of things prepared before their arrival. High-end restaurants and hotels tell us that the key is simple: a guest should never have to ask for anything, such as extra towels or a pillow or two.

They also make sure that everything is ship-shape in the guest room by doing a number of things:

  • They get into the bed! – This way, they can check every aspect of the room from their guest’s perspective. Does the central hanging light and lampshade need a dust? Are there enough pillows? Is the bed comfortable?
  • Sit on the toilet in the ensuite (if you have one) and sit on the bedroom chair and critically appraise the room from that level – are there marks on the skirting boards? Can you see the cables poking out from behind the TV?

#2 Be Prepared

Hosting guests, whether that is for a night or for afternoon tea, shouldn’t be stressful. But managers of high-end hotels say that the stress starts when the host is not prepared and organised in advance. It may sound over-the-top, but have the cakes ready on the cake stand, have the cups set out on the side, the kettle full, and the tea and coffee at hand.

The more you can prepare beforehand, the less stressful hosting guests will be.

#3 Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate

As well as being prepared beforehand, there is also a need to anticipate your guest's needs.

For example, if it is cold and raining outside, you don’t want them getting soaking wet from their car to the front door. Anticipate their arrival and walk out with an umbrella to welcome them into your warm home.

When you are welcoming people you know, you already have some valuable insight into their habits. For example, if your friend asked for more towels last time, simply add more to the guest towel pile this time around so they don’t have to ask again.

#4 Add a sense of luxury

If you regularly host guests in your home, you will know that a little extra slice of luxury can make a meal or overnight stay special.

It can be the uber-fluffy duvets and pillows, the quality linen, and the soft and fragrant towels in the bathroom alongside other details (such as shower gels and shampoos).. When people feel that their presence is valued, they feel even more welcome and comfortable.

#5 Think like a hotel or restaurant

They may be your closest friends, but you still want them to leave with a sense that they have been pampered during the time they spent with you. It may be an informal gathering but hospitality managers say that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a sense of pride about how people are treated when they stay with you.

A great tip is to think like a hotel – if you stayed at a 5* hotel, what would you expect? There would be sundries for personal use in the bathroom, there would be an abundance of towels, the room would be clean, fresh and sparkling and there may even be a delicious chocolate or two on the bedside table.

#6 Greet them at the door

The one thing that starts any gathering off to a great start is when the host takes time and effort to greet their guests at the door. Whether it is a soiree for friends or you are welcoming people for an overnight stay etiquette experts say this is the right way to greet people as they arrive at your home;

  1. Be at the door – A big faux pas is leaving your guests waiting at the door. Keep an eye out for their arrival, and open the door in greeting as they walk up the driveway or path. Aim for no guest to have to ring the doorbell.
  2. Shake their hand or another suitable greeting – if you don’t know the guests well, welcome each person with a handshake. The handshake is a sign of peace, dating back to Greece in 5BC, and is widely used today to mean the exact same thing. However, you may not need to greet people with a handshake every time; if a hug would send the right message, then welcome people this way. Either way, make sure you smile at people, as this is a great way of putting people at ease.

#7 Offer them a drink and conversation

The first few minutes of being in someone’s home or space can be a little difficult and awkward, so you need to be the person who smooths this over. We looked at how consummate hosts put their guests at ease in the first few minutes and this is what they do:

  • They offer guests a drink – Usually having this conversation as they take their coats and/or invite them to take a seat.
  • They have conversation starters pre-prepared – From asking about their journey and asking after family to making light conversation about the weather, when a guest feels that the host is interested in them, they warm and settle much quicker.
  • Introduce to other guests, with a tidbit of information – If you are introducing people at a dinner party who don’t know each other, when you introduce them by name to each other, give the other person a piece of information so that they have a ‘hook’ on which to continue conversing.

Hosting and welcoming guests in your home is fun, but how do you make sure people are at ease in your home?