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Even today, welcoming friends and relatives in our homes is a pleasure that many people share. It's the right time for receptions, parties and vacations, during which it is pleasant to host the people we love and it is also very advantageous to be someone else's guests.
For this reason, we should be well-prepared and review the main bon-ton rules about hospitality.
Why the bedroom? Because it's the place where our guests can enjoy a complete privacy. It's their nest, so it is better if it is independent from the rest of the house so that this privacy is guaranteed. But don't worry if the space is not enough: the important thing is to guarantee to our guests a comfortable room that is clean and equipped with everything they need - spacious cupboards, soft pillows and freshly cleaned linen.
Same thing for the bathroom: if we are talking about a studio, where the bedroom has its own bathroom, it must be equipped with all the necessary items. Leave a new toothbrush for your guests: a small gesture that can solve a problem for a distracted traveller. Otherwise, if the bathroom is in common with other rooms, the towels must be left in the bedroom together with the rest of the linen.
If the bedroom is the place for privacy, the kitchen or the living room are those for sharing and socializing. Meals are important moments when we have guests: in fact, they are the main occasion to socialize and share. For this reason it's important to pay extra attention to the kitchen and table.
If your guests are close friends or relatives, you can relax: none of them expects a five-star cuisine. You will just have to follow some basic rules: the tablecloth must always be clean (no to sauce stains from the night before), and plates and cutlery must be changed for every course. If you want to stand out for care and kindness, you can make the difference putting a small place holder on the napkin.
As regards the food, remember to ask about the tastes, allergies and intolerances of your guest in order to avoid vegetarian fasts in front of a jugged hare, or puffy faces after a bite of crustacean.
There's no need to be Jamie Oliver to have guests for dinner: your dishes have just to be fresh, simple and abundant. A well supplied table immediately generates good mood. And don't worry if cooking is not really your thing, you can always invite your guests out for dinner. Or you can ask them to cook with you: you can have fun together and learn a lot from each other.
Hosts have the duty to offer and suggest to their guests the right dose of entertainment and fun, both because it is pleasant to spend some time together, and because it is possible that the guests don't know what to do because they are not familiar with the place.
Although, according to the etiquette, the first rule for a good host is to leave the guests completely free: it is okay to give them some advice on what to do, but they mustn't be forced to follow others' programs.
Another rule is to provide the guests with a phone, even if, in the smartphone era, a fast wi-fi connection could be more appreciated than a receiver with a tangled wire.
The etiquette includes some basic rules also for the guests. It is a good habit to bring a symbolic present to thank your host. The ideal gift is something for the whole family, like a decorative object for the house, a tasty cake or a nice plant.
In the ancient times, the guests were provided with servants to satisfy their needs and keep their bedroom and bathroom tidy and clean. But times have changed, and since there are no servants it is important to keep our things in order, to leave the house of our host as it was, and not to bother anyone. For example, it's no good to abandon slippers around the house or to leave our bed unmade. A good host will keep saying to you: make yourself at home! But if you are an untidy person, you shouldn't take it literally.
Hosts have the duty to make their guests feel comfortable and have everything they need. On their part, guests must be serene, compliant and try to not change too much the habits of their host. A grumpy guest is never appreciated, and a bad mood, even if justified by personal reasons, becomes a sign of bad manners, because hosts will wonder if they have done something wrong.
A famous Tuscan proverb says: Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days. And also the etiquette - in a more polite way - reminds us that even if staying at some friend's or relative's place is very pleasant, we shouldn't remain for too long. Our hosts will keep smiling to us, but behind manners, after the proverbial three days, there could be a hint of annoyance.
Pier Vittorio Prevedello
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