What does it mean to be a good host? What will make your guests feel the most welcome and comfortable?
So, Yom Tov season is upon us. And with it, guests. Whether you are the one hosting or the one being hosted (see our next post!), there is always something new to learn.
We interviewed some women who have large families and many married children. We also interviewed said children, and every single one of them taught us something. Then, we organized their thoughts and put them together. We thought you might be interested to hear.
Being a good host. What does it really mean?
You know how you feel after a beautiful Yom Tov is over and you don’t feel like going back to routine? Well, if that feeling was at your own house, kol hakavod, you are doing an amazing job. And if you felt that while being a guest, your hostess did a fabulous job. Learn from her. (And write in the comments what she did that was so great!
You want to achieve that feeling for all of your guests. It’s not easy, it won’t always happen or work out the way you want it to, but you can aim for that.
- It’s not about how many different salads, dips, types of meat you serve. Food is important, sure, it creates the vibe. But, it’s not everything.
- The #1 thing is your mood. If the woman of the house is happy, relaxed, smiling…the whole house is. So, rather not put up fresh babka on erev Yom Tov. Buy it.
- It’s more important that you focus on your guests’ arrival and receive them warmly and calmly. Or bake the babka before. Wayyy before. Obviously, the babka is just an example. The point is, sometimes, the best “self care” is removing that extra dessert from your to-do list. This might mean, for some, hiring more help for the Yom Tov season.
- When a host acts overwhelmed in any way, or talks about how tired she is or how hard she worked, guests are very uncomfortable. Yes, preparing for Yom Tov is hard work, no one will deny that, but act as if it’s nothing but a total pleasure.
- Prepare as much as you can in advance. If a recipe calls for too much prep that cannot be done in advance, rather skip it.
- Build your menu on foods that you can prepare ahead of time.
- Take your time.
- Make time for yourself, stay in your room with a book, take a nap or go for a walk with your husband. When hosting a large family over a Yom Tov it’s important not to neglect yourself. You are doing it for them.
- Pretend you are your guests, before they arrive.
- Take a walk around the house and look at it through your guests eyes. Remove all fragile items that children might touch, baby proof as much as you can.
- Walk into the actual guest rooms and make sure that there is enough room in the closets to hang clothing, unpack. Check the drawers. You will be surprised how fast stuff accumulates.
- Make sure the rooms have a clock. Young couples rely on their phones to tell time and often forget to pack a watch.
- Be equipped. Want your einiklech to come for Yom Tov? Make it easy for them. Besides for making it so much easier for couples to pack, having these items available makes guests/children feel wanted, welcome and thought after.
- Invest in that pack and play/crib.
- Get the extra high chair.
- Stock up on diapers and tell them they do not have to pack them.
- Ask them which baby foods or formula to stock on.
- Have baby Tylenol at hand or feminine products in the bathroom drawer.
- Also, a noise machine is worth investing in if you are putting lots of kids in close proximity to one another. It really helps keep sleeping children asleep.
- Guests will always remember how they felt, not what you served or how the table looked.
- That being said, if pulling out your expensive china will give you anxiety that something might break–then don’t. Rather use plastic than be tense about that.
- Rather ask than resent.
- Children (like husbands) are not mind readers. If you need something done, say so. Ask in a calm and polite manner and do that before you have resentment. Resentment might cause you to perhaps be not as polite.
- Ask for help before Yom Tov, delegate desserts or salads or whatever will be a help. When your daughter asks “Mommy, what can I bring?” don’t reply with “Nothing, dear!” unless you mean it. She will actually feel good when she knows what to bring, and will feel good about helping.
- Gifts are always appreciated. Everyone loves a gift? Right?
- You don’t need to spend much to make your daughter-in-law feel loved, something small in her room will make her day. Think a hand cream, a new pair of slippers. And the kids will be thrilled with a new game. Or the BCP journal (shameless plug right there!) to keep the kids busy on erev Yom Tov (and beyond!).
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