Today’s question is prompted by an anonymous follower who says, “I’d love to hear more factual tips and tricks to hosting.”
First of all a disclaimer, I don’t claim anything on this blog is “factual” except for the address. When I do use “facts” from subject experts they are referenced, usually with a link for more information. In these days of Fake News, Alternate Facts, and Optics (whatever that means) I want to be painfully honest about the material I am disseminating.
With that said, how about some tips on Guest Accoutrements? Or Stuff to Have on Hand for House Guests. This does not include food. That’s for another post.
When my husband and I first set up housekeeping in our “garbage level” apartment, guests were lucky to get a spot on the floor and directions to McDonalds. Strangely enough we still had A LOT of company. Must have been the cable. As we matured, along with our guests, we were able to offer better accommodations.
For beginners, remember you are doing someone a favor. There is no need to go crazy with a bunch of stuff you don’t normally keep on hand and will never use again. At a minimum, you need to offer a place to sleep that is as quiet and private as you can provide along with clean linens and towels. If you cannot provide these basic things, you should let the guest know in advance so they can make arrangements. For instance they may need to bring a sleeping bag or their own pillow, and that’s OK. You should also leave a note on paper with your address, phone number, and—if you trust this guest—you internet access code.
Once you get more established (and have accumulated freebies from enough hotels) there are things you can add to that list. Here’s what Adele from Arkansas suggests:
“Provide a place for their suitcase, some empty horizontal space for them to set out their things, an empty drawer and some empty closet space with hangers, an empty small basket or two. Provide shampoo, conditioner, blow dryer, toothpaste. Have a few feminine products available just in case. Be prepared to provide just about anything—in case their luggage didn’t make it– hair brush, deodorant, new toothbrush (I always have plenty from my trips to the dentist). Have a lined and covered trash container in the bathroom (so that your dog does not get into their trash). Put a container of water and a couple of glasses in their room. Have a throw blanket handy. Be sure to ask if there is anything that they need. Make sure there is a variety of bed pillows – some folks like firm, some like soft and some need an extra pillow for their knees. If possible provide a place to sit and read in their room for when they need some peace and quiet. Provide a radio that is easy to turn on, change channel and set alarm. And, very important, provide some kind of night light so that they can safely find their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.”
Whew. She’s good!
For the advanced host, I would add to that list: noise machine; flashlight; and brochures from local attractions.
If Adele and I have forgotten anything please let me know in the Comments section below.
Thank you for visiting and I’ll be back on Wednesday with House Guests and Graduations.
Question of the week…
The Question of the Week is from Diane, “How do I not offend guests who don’t want to use pronouns that we are used to using (they prefer gender neutral pronouns) It is very difficult for me not to say him or her and it feels very awkward to use they when it is only one person.”
As long as we’re talking grammar, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to that wonderful first-year English teacher who put up with my shenanigans for a full year. I think she also managed to teach me a little grammar in spite of myself. But please don’t check too closely.
One day in Seventh grade she was diagraming sentences and I got bored. So I decided to time how long I could hold my leg out straight in front of me under my desk. We had one of those huge clocks with a sweep hand. After about ten minutes, she looked straight at me and said, “Perhaps we could concentrate on our thigh muscles later?” This of course is waaaaaay less embarrassing than when one of my best friends was waiting for the bell to ring so she could pass gas. Unfortunately the bell did not drown out her fart but highlighted it. Kind of like a cymbal crash. I never use first and last names without specific permission, so I will refrain from using that sainted teacher’s name. But if you’re out there and read this, I sure would love to hear from you.
According to the Oxford Dictionary: Pronouns are used in place of a noun that has already been mentioned or that is already known, often to avoid repeating the noun. For example:
Kate was tired so she went to bed.
Michael took the children with him.
Kieran’s face was close to mine.
That is a good idea.
Anything might happen.
So here’s my take; according to Oxford, Webster, and my seventh grade English teacher, the use of gender-specific pronouns is still acceptable. So I think it’s still OK to use them without feeling homophobic. As I have said before, it would be a much more hospitable nation if folks just assumed that the vast majority of people in the United States do not mean to offend with their speech or any other action. To correct someone for an accepted pattern of speech may actually do more harm to a cause than good, and bolster negative stereotypes. It might be better to concentrate efforts on bigger fish such as overt or covert discrimination.
Here’s an example; a very good friend of mine has a daughter with Down’s syndrome. This friend is also a Special Education teacher. When our state’s legislature was considering a bill that would replace all references of “retarded” in state code with more politically correct terms, I asked how she felt about it. She said, “I don’t care what they call her, just fund the programs to help her!”
There is no question that some words need to work themselves out of our language. This has already happened in my lifetime and it’s a good thing. But I’m not sure pronouns are the place to start and I’m not sure shaming and embarrassing people is the way to do it.
Please feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments section below.
Thank you for visiting.
The Question of the Week comes from Ellen in Virginia.
“I recently attended a reunion weekend of some of my college sorority sisters at a lovely beach house that one of the “girls” had rented. There were about 15 of us there, and it was great to see everyone after over 30 years! Two of my sorority sisters are now obviously and openly a lesbian couple. (I didn’t know about this until arriving, and I didn’t say anything to acknowledge their relationship because I just didn’t know what to say. This was a taboo topic when we were all in college in the 1970’s). What advice do you have, if any? I felt like I should have offered some kind of congratulations, but didn’t want to say the wrong thing. Help!”
My first thought is that all of you have the same generational perspective. These ladies are well aware of the taboos you all grew up with and have had to face them on a regular basis. I would wait for an opportunity when you can speak to one or both of them in private, acknowledge that you are feeling a little awkward, and say you are genuinely glad they are in a loving supportive relationship.
I also want to take this opportunity to reach out to my younger readers to help them understand that, like Ellen, most baby boomers are pretty accepting of healthy relationships regardless of gender or race. In fact most of us are truly happy that folks can now live honestly from an early age. It avoids so much pain and nonsense. While we welcome this healthy societal change, it is still relatively new to us and we need you to understand that we may not always react as naturally or nonchalantly as you do. So please, give us the benefit of the doubt and help us out.
I think the lyrics below from the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
sort of sum it up.
Do you need anybody?
I just need someone to love.
Could it be anybody?
I want somebody to love.
Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mm, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends,
Oh, I get high with a little help from my friends.
Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends.
From the album Sgt. Pepper’s
Lonely Hearts Club Band
Thank you for visiting.
My Question of the week comes from Charles in Virginia.
“Any words of wisdom for someone traveling with their significant other? My girlfriend and I are very serious, but not yet married. There is always an awkward moment when arriving at someone’s house, especially that of an older relative, where I wonder whether I’m meant to put our bags in the same room or not. On the flip side, as a host, when is it not ok to impose your sensibilities on your guests?”
Here are my thoughts for the house guests; If the host prepares two separate spaces, you use them both. Their house, their sensibilities. One way to address the suitcase dilemma, is to stand there holding your bags and wait for the host to direct you to your room(s), which they will do eventually unless they want you to sleep in the entry way. Often a host will prepare two spaces and tactfully suggest you don’t have to use them both. When in doubt use them both!
Here are my thoughts for the host/hostesses; Your house, your sensibilities. No need to make a fuss or start citing scripture, just show them to their room(s). There is a slim chance the guests are more comfortable sleeping separately, which happens to us a lot with married couples. I provide a pillow and blankets for the comfy couch in the family room just in case. We have a large sectional couch that is famous in these parts and known as “couchasaurus,” because it is large, grey, and swallows you whole while you’re watching TV.
Any thoughts from my followers?
Thank you for visiting and I’ll have my Easter post on Wednesday.
An update: I researched this question for “expert” advice. While I found a lot of information, there was very little about challenges presented by people who come to visit the Hospice patient. That’s interesting because guests have been an issue (good and bad) in almost every Hospice situation I’m familiar with.
Here’s my number one piece of advice: Don’t be a swooper! A swooper is someone who comes in and, with the best of intentions, starts giving advice and even changing things up. This is not helpful and is often a terrible burden for the caregiver who must undo what the swooper has done. It can also upset the patient who starts to question their care. JUST DON’T DO IT!
I also found some solid advice at http://www.hospicenet.org/ An example is below.
Here are six steps you can take to be an effective caregiver:
- Work and communicate effectively with the patient.
- Support the patient’s spiritual concerns.
- Help to resolve the patient’s unfinished business.
- Work with health professionals.
- Work with family and friends.
- Take care of your own needs and feelings.
Original Post from Friday: This week’s question for my visitors to respond to comes from Dee in Virginia, and is one I can relate to after having my mother as a Hospice patient in our home. As my family was going through this difficult time, hearing the wisdom of others would have been such a gift. I am grateful to Dee for giving me the chance to offer that solace to others. I look forward to your comments.
“I would love to hear your thoughts on guests that come to visit a family member who is in hospice at your home and stay to ‘help’ and wish to spend precious time with the patient. Godsend or nightmare? Advice on walking that fine line on being accommodating to relatives and taking care of yourself. Thanks”