My friend Kristy Miller (no relation) asked yesterday, “I need hospitality advice before tomorrow! A very special cousin of mine is coming for one night Tuesday and maybe part of Wednesday. I’ve never hosted her, so I don’t know her likes / dislikes. She is fun, very sharp, and sassy. I really want to make her comfortable and spoil her a bit.”
My first response was to laugh – Kristy and her family hosted us last summer in an emergency and made us very comfortable. I should be getting hospitality advice from her! My family went to Charlotte, NC, for a convention, and we arranged last minute to visit Kristy and her husband, Nate, briefly before heading to Ashville to stay with other friends, the Linikers. Our car broke down and had to be repaired before we could leave Charlotte, so we ended up staying with the Millers for a couple days. They gave us their own bedroom and Kristy slept on their futon while 7 months pregnant! They fed us delicious barbecue and other amazing food, connected us with their mechanic, let us do laundry, and made some important professional connections happen for us. I told Kristy she would have no problem making her cousin feel right at home.
Kristy had decided to put her cousin in the girls’ room because there is a double bed, and the room is right next to a bathroom. Great idea – proximity to a bathroom is a nice thing for guests.
Here were my suggestions to her:
- Cook food that is regional – visitors to North Carolina often want to enjoy NC’s famous barbecue,
- Be aware of food allergies – if you don’t know a guest’s allergies or preferences, avoid common allergens like peanuts and shellfish,
- Make up a gift basket to welcome your guest – local food or gift items make great gifts. Burt’s Bees products are made in NC, and the Linikers gave us Burt’s Bees products and local goodies when we visited them in Ashville.
- Guests sometimes feel awkward asking if they can raid your kitchen. Stocking their room with a few snacks lets them eat if they get hungry.
- Put a clean towel on the pre-made bed so your guest knows which towel to use in the bathroom. Kristy said she had bought a special new towel for her cousin.
- Give your guests downtime when they arrive. Often traveling leaves people tired and feeling rumpled. They might want to rest or freshen up.
- Have a list of possible interesting things to go and see, depending on what your guest feels up for.
- Create lots of casual time for conversation. Especially on a short visit, don’t run around so much that you fail to really connect with your guest.
Kristy said she makes a great banana pudding, which is a Southern specialty. And she said she likes to bake as guests arrive so the house smells welcoming. So we talked about how she could have dessert and coffee ready when her cousin arrives so they could sit down, relax, and catch up.
What suggestion do you have for Kristy?