Hygge part 6 - Eight tips on how to be together without cracking up
Even though for about half the world, Christmas falls at the coldest time of year (and for the other half of the world it's in the hottest time of the year), Christmas is probably the time when most people do most socializing. You only need to glance at the adverts being shown at the moment to see how companies push the importance of being together at Christmas and the idea of being the perfect host/ess (with the help of their products of course). Ignore them, being a great host isn't about spending a fortune on food, drink, decorations and entertainment. It's about making sure you and your guests have a great time together and if you follow these 8 tips, you'll set yourself up to succeed at making it happen.
Create some physical boundaries
Your guests need space and so do you. If you make sure that they have everything they could reasonably need or want in the places you want them to be, then you stop them having a reason to wander into spaces you'd rather keep to yourself and if you further ensure that your furniture is arrange to create some tactful boundaries, you'll probably find that they're respected. If necessary, be ready to inform people of what you expect in terms of where they are to go and what places are off-limits.
Establish personal boundaries
When having people for longer visits, you will need some time to yourself to recharge. Plan this time and make your guests aware of it. Most people will quite understand and if you're dealing with someone who doesn't then stand your ground and consider whether or not you really want to invite them back. This is also a good time to find out what your guest's plans are and see if you need to take any steps to coordinate. While this is a personal issue, you might find life easier if you give your guests a key. That way you don't have to worry about ensuring they can be let in and out when they wish.
Be realistic about your preparation
It's great to anticipate your guest's needs and to prepare a pack with information and to have a basket with necessities they might have forgotten, (these days chargers are as likely to be appreciated as toiletries) and some drinks, snacks and entertainment. It also makes sense to do as much as you can in advance of your guest's visit so you can give them your full attention. Just be realistic about this. Any guest worth having is far more likely to have happy, joyful memories of their time together with you than they are to take away loving recollections of your amazing home decorating skills. If you doubt this, then think about the effort shops put into decorating their windows each Christmas and now think about how many of those windows you actually remember in detail.
Write down anything important
I'll admit I'm a lists person, so maybe this is just me, but seriously, I don't like to rely on my memory. If there's something I want or need to do which relates to a visit, I'll write it down, although I'll admit that's pretty much my approach to life in general.
While your guests are in your home, slow down and enjoy them
If you're always buzzing about trying to be the perfect host(ess) then you're going to stress out yourself and probably make your guest feel uncomfortable at inconveniencing you. Forget about putting on elaborate meals and amazing decoration. Do something simple and enjoy it with your guests.
Think about what your guests enjoy
Friendships are usually based on shared values and beliefs, not necessarily on shared interests, although that may be how people come to meet in the first place. It is absolutely fine to make it possible for your guest to do "their thing" some of the time, possibly while you do yours in addition to you spending time together. You don't have to act like you're glued at the hip!
Create zones to cater for different needs
If you're having even just one guest stay over, try to give them a designated space they can make their own, which could be as little as a basket into which they can put anything they want to access quickly. Once the numbers start going up, then you do need to start thinking more about what I call "accommodating opposites". This is the one time where it can be helpful to spend a little money (and I mean a little) to help this happen. For example, some people love Christmas tunes, whereas other people can find them annoying or overwhelming after a while. Given that it may be difficult for people in smaller homes to have music spaces and quiet spaces, think about buying some noise cancelling headphones so people who want a bit of peace can tune out. Likewise if some like it hot and others less so, have some cosy throws on hand, to keep both groups happy.
Think about what you need to do to ensure you enjoy the experience
Having said all that, ultimately the key to being a great host/ess is making sure that you enjoy the experience as much as your guest, so do yourself a favour and think about what you need to do to make sure that happens. Above all, if you have doubts about having a particular guest in your home, then resolve those doubts before your guest arrives or cancel the invitation. That's not being selfish, that's recognising that your home is your sanctuary and, above all, should be a place where you and your loved ones can feel safe, relaxed and comfortable.