How to be a good hostess

Rama’s parents are coming tomorrow and I’m so super duper excited! Not only will I have two lovely companions but it’s my father-in-law’s first visit to Paris and he’s a mega francophile so it’s going to be a blast showing him around the city. Since we’ve been here, we’ve had a few guests. We always love having people come and stay with us wherever we’re living, and I always look forward to being a good hostess. Here are a few things I think about before company arrives.

1. Clean linens. This is common sense, but make sure your guest bedroom is fully outfitted with nice clean bedding, or in our case, if your guests are sleeping on the pull-out couch, make sure your extra sheets are clean.

2. Clean towels. If you don’t have a dryer and you have to hang all your laundry on a funny-shaped indoor clothes dryer (like we do), make sure your towels are clean and dried well in advance!

3. Stock your fridge/pantry. Food is one of the most essential elements of a good time. Drink too of course. Make sure you’ve got lots of nice local food items in the fridge. We made a nice pot of carrot soup, and I always think about how when we moved to Berlin in 2007, how our host had a delicious pot of soup waiting for us when we arrived. We drank half the bottle of wine I bought. Oops. But if it’s your parents you’re hosting, you can be forgiven for not having a bunch of wine at the ready. They will buy it for you when they get there! Also, sparkling water always feels special. Pick up a few bottles if you don’t have one of those tap water carbonation thingies, which are very cool and I want to get one.

4. Fresh flowers. Um… I wasn’t actually able to find a bouquet that I liked in time. I did get a little potted pink geranium though, which is very cute and I know my mother-in-law is going to love. If you’ve got a guest bedroom, put a simple bouquet next to the bed. A bouquet on the kitchen table is always nice too! A little bud vase in the bathroom? Yes!

5. Clean the house. Everyone loves a clean house. Make sure the bathrooms are sparkling.

6. Out and about. Take your guests along with you on your daily activities. But only if they’re fun activities. For example, I know my in-laws will love going to the local outdoor market, but they probably wouldn’t have as much fun accompanying me on a trip to the post office.

7. Being a tourist. Make sure you’ve found out the very best things to do in your city so you can show your guests a really good time. We’re in Paris, so there’s lots and lots of amazing things to do here. But everyone knows about the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Make a list of off-beat things to do in your town and ask your guests what they’d like to do. Also, get some travel books from the library if you don’t already have some on hand.

8. Late night snacks. Put a basket of goodies next to your guests’ bed. My friend Lauren made an extra special guest basket for me when I stayed with her in London a few years ago, and it was so sweet and special. Don’t forget a carafe of filtered water.

9. Friends meeting friends. If your guests are especially social, they might enjoy meeting some of your other friends. Why not host a dinner party? Or plan a picnic in the park.

10. Tell them what you want. When my friend Rachael asked me what I’d like from Belgium, I didn’t hesitate to tell her I’d love some hot chocolate mix. And that’s what I got! If your friends ask you if you’d like something from wherever it is they’re coming from, tell them. It will make them feel good to bring a nice hostess gift and it will make you feel good to get something you like. If it’s your parents coming, you can go ahead and ask them to bring whatever it is you would like from your home country. I asked for Aveeno and sippy cups!



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  1. Futaba said:

    I wouldn’t mind going to the Post Office! One thing I always like to do when traveling is to send postcards and I often don’t have the stamps I need. Have a nice visit with Ram’s folks!

  2. rsvandagriff said:

    I only wish I could have brought you something more or something more special than hot chocolate mix! You were such a wonderful hostess to us – a hostess with the most-ess – even while you were not feeling well. Now I have a great guide for when you come to visit US! Yay. Hope you are enjoying the long days and the relatively better weather. We should be in touch.

  3. Wish I could have visited, it sounds like so much fun. Maybe another time.
    I’ll look forward to seeing you here.
    Love your fairy godmother

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