5 Ways to Be a Warm & Welcoming Host
Here at Bend Soap Company, we like to think that our hospitality should convey our love and compassion for one another. Simply put, it’s a matter of doing to others as you would hope they would do to you. Having been the recipients of so much kindness and grace through the years, we’ve learned through these examples how to extend hospitality to others in a lasting way.
You don’t need a lavish house or a large wallet to be hospitable, just an open heart and the desire to make your guests feel as comfortable as possible. It’s easier than you may think to make your guests stay unforgettable. Here are a few ideas we’ve picked up over the years to help make your guests’ visit a happy memory they’ll fondly look back on and remember for years to come.
#1 Extend a Warm Welcome
Let your guests know that you’re looking forward to their visit by calling ahead or sending a text message a few days before they arrive. This not only helps your guests prepare for their visit but also put their minds at ease as they’ll have an idea of what to expect upon their arrival.
Go over any details about their arrival and get an idea for when they plan on arriving. If you’re picking your guests up from the airport, confirm incoming flight times and numbers and be on time to pick up your guest. Let your guests know if they need to pack anything specific based on any activities you have planned and the weather forecast. Should they bring a heavy jacket for the colder temps that might roll in or a pair of tennis shoes they don’t mind getting dirty for that hike you were thinking about? Any guest would appreciate the heads up!
#2 Have Empathy
The secret to any warm and welcoming host isn’t about having the best manners, offering gifts, or catering to your guests every need. It’s about empathy; the ability and willingness to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to try and understand their perspective and better connect with them.
Make time to sit down and be present with your guest. Ask questions about what’s going on in their life and actively listen to what they’re saying. You might not always understand or agree with what they’re sharing, but use the situation as an opportunity for you to stretch beyond your own opinions and become more educated about the ones your guest has.
#3 Create a Cozy & Inviting Space
The Sleeping Arrangements
You don’t need a lavish home or expensive things to ensure that your guests have a pleasant stay, but everyone appreciates a clean and welcoming space (especially after a long day of traveling!). Even if your guest is sleeping on the couch or a blow-up air mattress, make sure that the space they’re staying in is clean and comfortable.
Think about how you can make the area comfortable for their needs. What creature comforts would be tempting to them? What might they be trying to avoid during their stay?
Make room for their things by clearing out space in the closet and dresser and supplying extra hangers for them to hang any of their belongings. If you’re tight on space, even a luggage rack can help your guests turn their suitcase into a pseudo dresser so that they can easily access their things while still keeping the area tidy and presentable.
Make up the bed (or couch) with clean linens and stock the bedside table with a drinking glass and carafe. Even a makeshift nightstand using a pile of books or an upside-down basket For an extra touch, place a handwritten welcome note and fresh flowers (even greenery from your garden would work great!) nearby. Small gestures like this show your guests that they are a delight, not an imposition.
We don’t all have a guest bathroom on hand, so if you’ll be sharing the bathroom with your guests, make sure you clear enough space for their toiletries.
Remembering the things that we all too often forget to pack can turn any bathroom into a five-star hotel. Having extra amenities available like cotton balls, Q-tips, a tube of toothpaste, a new toothbrush, razor, lip balm, hair ties, and a hair dryer can make any bathroom feel like the Ritz. At the very least, a clean, tidy space with fresh towels will work great.
Take the wow factor up a notch by supply a few handcrafted luxuries that your guests might not have at home. Placing your favorite scented goat milk soap and a bottle of goat milk lotion on the bathroom counter might not seem like much to you, but the gesture can go a long way with your guests and leave a thoughtful, lasting impression. We love the idea of leaving a small gift basket of natural skincare products available for your guests to not only use but take back home with them too. Each time they use the products they’ll think of their visit with you and remember how spoiled you made them feel.
#4 Create Realistic Boundaries
No matter how much you’ve been looking forward to hosting your friends and family at your home, sometimes your supply of patience, graciousness, and pleasantry can run low. It happens to the best of us! While acts of generosity and kindness have scientifically been shown to have a positive impact on our overall level of happiness and joy, this doesn’t mean that we need to let the act of being an empathetic host exhaust us. Create boundaries of your generosity at the limit where your own joy starts to fade. If you feel a sting of resentment or burden coming on, give yourself a break to refocus and collect yourself.
Here are a few additional ways to stay relaxed when hosting guests:
Don’t be afraid to distribute duties: Involving your guests in something simple like meal prep — such as asking them to help chop food, set the table, or fill water glasses — invites them to contribute and join in on everyday household activities and create a space for you to deepen your relationship. Just because you’re the host that can do it all doesn’t mean you have to.
Have 1-2 backup plans: Weather changes, restaurants can close early, and events can sell out which is why it’s a great idea to plan ahead but also have 1-2 backup plans in mind “just in case.” Having a flexible schedule is key as it allows everyone to look forward to things yet still unwind and enjoy time together.
Keep entertainment on hand: Break up the conversation by starting a puzzle, pulling out your favorite board game, or breaking out your favorite movie. The Johnson’s have a basketball hoop at their home that’s come in handy for many of their family gatherings. Even a tour around the home or property can give you and your guests some fresh air and inspire new conversation. And don’t forget about the free Farm Tours we offer here at Bend Soap Company!
#5 Go With the Flow
Simply put, if you’re not enjoying yourself, then your guests won’t either. And if you want them to have a memorable visit and leave feeling like they had the best possible time with you, remember that, as a host, you can really set the tone for their experience. Going with the flow will make your guests feel welcome and help you preserve your sanity.
Have an idea and options for how the days and nights will unfold, but leave room for your guests to go explore on their own if they so wish to do so. Try to find the perfect balance between not letting your guests become bored but also letting them relax. Make them feel at home, but also taken care of.
Don’t make hosting so overwhelming that you never want to do it again. Work within your means to make sure that your guests have a memorable, fun, and relaxing visit with you, but do your best to not get too caught up in the nitty-gritty details. And remember that the ultimate hosting experience is one that’s filled with laughter, new experiences, and great memories!
One Last Thing….
If your line of work is in the hospitality industry — whether you own a bed and breakfast, hotel, rent out an Airbnb or VRBO, or have a vacation rental — and you’re looking for a cost-friendly way to impress your guests, don’t miss this short video we put together with our friends from Naftaland!
With a farm just down the road from ours, Naftaland specializes in making beautiful, high-quality yarns from their herd of rescued alpacas, sheep, and llamas. Whether entertaining folks who drop by to pay their herd a visit or outfitting their vacation rental, Leah makes sure that she has a solid supply of travel size bars of goat milk soap on hand for her guests to use. With 5-star ratings across the board, we’re proud to know that our goat milk soap is able to help make their guests’ stays even more enjoyable.
Back to You
The ability to be a gracious host and show hospitality is a true testament to one's character. It’s so much more than welcoming someone into your space; it’s about making your guests feel welcomed, comfortable, and at home. What hosting advice do you have to share? Drop a comment below and join the conversation!
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