Host Your Guests in the Lap of Luxury!
On the last episode of The Eyshet Chayil Show, we discovered what the Sages have to say about being an immaculate host, as well as how to be a delightful guest.
Nothing says "welcome to a Jewish home" like a pleasant guest room. In the grand tradition of our noble ancestor, Abraham, we like to invite friends (and even strangers) to share in a Shabbat weekend or a holiday's festivities.
So how can you make your hospitality something to remember?
Here are some tips from Martha Stewart:
OUTFITTING A GUEST ROOM
In a strange room, comfort and space are more soothing than a clutter of unfamiliar things. On a bedside table, place a single flower bloom in a simple glass, a nice clock, and a selection of books suited to your guest’s taste.
Closets and Drawers
Make sure that there is adequate closet and drawer space. Supply a variety of hangers, at least a dozen good wooden or metal ones—that will hold trousers and jackets, flimsy dresses, and heavy coats. And make certain there is a full-length mirror.
If the bathroom is shared, clear space in it for guests’ toiletries. Stock it with new toothbrushes and toothpaste, a plush robe, and a supply of clean cotton towels for each guest. Supply a few luxuries that one might not find at home: a beautiful soap or an unusual cream, a special shampoo, or a small bottle of perfume or cologne. If your guest has allergies, provide a hypoallergenic soap and moisturizer.
After you’ve provided the basic necessities, consider some of these extra touches to make guests feel at home.
Space permitting, set up a comfortable chair or settee with a pillow and throw, an adjacent table, and a good adjustable-brightness lamp. Assemble a small personal library, including some magazines and a daily newspaper (useful for local listings like concerts). A radio for morning news and quiet evening listening is a thoughtful addition; you might also include a portable cassette or CD player with a selection of music (of course, Martha would tell you not to worry too much about providing the electronics for Shabbat or holidays, since we don't listen to them, anyway!)
Provide a small desk or a cleared tabletop, and stock it with pens and paper, note cards, envelopes, and stamps. Compile a list of some favorite local places—restaurants, cafés, museums, antiques shops, cinemas—and provide timetables, if appropriate, for buses, ferries, or trains. A telephone in the room is a convenience, but not a necessity.
If the room has wood floors (or stone floors, like here in Israel), place a small rug beside the bed. For visitors during the coldest months, think of providing a hot-water bottle in a soft slipcase, a soothing amenity your guests won’t have expected to find.
Food and Drink
Consider your guests’ food preferences: If one is a vegetarian, or allergic to fish or dairy products, be sure your menus include options and that your pantry and refrigerator are appropriately stocked. Show guests where to find snacks, drinking glasses, and utensils, and encourage them to help themselves. Leave a pitcher of spring water and a glass on the bedside table in the guest's room.
Of course, the most important element of good hospitality is creating a warm and welcoming environment which is sensitive to the needs of the guest. Show your guest that you and your home are at her service, and you are sure to have a terrific time!!