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Hospitality - Another Lost Art

Updated on October 17, 2011
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

What is Hospitality - A New Kind of Medical Facility?

Hospitality. Where has it all gone? It left here long ago, that’s for sure. Maybe we have forgotten what it all means. In that case….

To give hospitality is to welcome someone and make them feel comfortable. They are to feel at ease instead of wishing they were anywhere but here. I look at the many events that I have attended from family gatherings, community events, to church events and I rarely see hospitality actually put into action. This is so very sad and an honest reflection of where our society is heading.

I’ve been a first time visitor and felt like I was alone on a barren island while everyone else had their own party islands that they had private ferries going to. Did anyone ever see the person sitting alone? Why were they alone????  How about the host or hostess? Where are they?  In today's world they tend to not understand their roles at all.


So how to do you display hospitality?

First, think of how you like to be treated when you enter someone’s home or party. Odds are you don’t want to be totally ignored or your needs pushed aside. Think of how you have not been very hospitably somewhere and learn what not to do. That is a good starting point.

Second, when you are the host/hostess do NOT spend too much time with just a few people. Your job is to make sure that everyone is comfortable and enjoying themselves. Did you know that? Most seem to have forgotten that fact. When a guest arrives, mentally begin thinking of their interests and personalities. Then make sure that they are introduced or guided toward someone that they could easily get into a conversation with. You see this happening in old movies. It works. Also, think of who they might need to avoid. It is part of your job that they are having fun. This is very important to new people who don’t know anyone but maybe you. You cannot cater to them all night, so find them someone to converse with. You might be the catalyst to some really good relationships down the road.

Third, think of needs before the event. Little things that you don’t initially think of can be very valuable in ensuring a successful event. Little things like boxes of tissue strategically placed around the room, women’s personal supplies available in the powder room (unexpected things happen), lotion next to the sink, spot removal towelettes in case of accidents, extra baby supplies if the event involves children, light throws and shawls in case a guest gets a little colder than everyone else (easier to wrap up instead of cranking up the heat and cooking everyone else for a few guests), extra over-the-counter meds for those unexpected headaches or coughs, first aid kit (that is almost always needed for some accident that is bound to happen), extra slippers if your guests arrive in winter or a bad rainfall and their shoes are soaked, folding fans in the summer for those who get a little warm, needle and thread and even extra buttons, manicure set because nails can get broken, safety pins in case a dress tears getting out of the car. These are just a few of the things you can do to make sure everyone is comfortable.

Fourth, do NOT exclude others from conversation. This is very important when your guests are limited in numbers. I cannot tell you how many times there were only three or four in a group and the others got on topics that only they knew about and did not even try to draw me in on it. Do not talk about your upcoming vacation that you are taking with someone else in the group with. I was sitting in a group with three other women once. I spent the entire time sitting bored while they planned the cruise that only they would be taking next month. It was rude and insulting.

Fifth, be very conscience of where the conversation leads and even your body language. If you turn even slightly from a guest, you have excluded them. Look from person to person as much as you can without looking like you are watching a tennis match.

Sixth, see each guest out individually. Excuse yourself from socializing just long enough to express thanks for the person coming and wishing them safe travel home.

Seventh, when it comes to food, serve whatever you want. Just keep in mind food allergies. If you are serving dishes that contain allergic items, have other options available so they are not left out. Let’s take this further and make sure you have options for vegetarians and others that have particular diets for medical reasons. You don’t have to cater your entire menu, but have options so that they don’t feel shunned on the basis of your menu.

Eighth, seating. Make sure that you have adequate seating. Take into account any disabilities that your guests might have. Some people need seats that they can easily get in and out of. Maybe then need ones with arms to assist.

But I'm Not the Host...

What if you are not the host/hostess?  Does this give you an out?  NO! NO! NO!  You do not get off the hook here.  Here are your responsibilities:

First, if you see a new guest arrive and you know the host/hostess is busy doing their job somewhere else and cannot politely escape, then greet them and keep them busy until your host arrives to take over.  Your host will love you for this because they are currently stressed beyond belief.

Second, if you see someone sitting or standing all alone, do something to remedy that problem.  Granted there are a few people who want it that way, so if you discover that politely excuse yourself.  But most people are just being rudely ignored by everyone else.  Hopefully, this will never happen if the host has directed them to someone else, but that someone else might have been rude and abandoned them.  Introduce yourself. Strike up a genuine conversation.  During this conversation discover more about the person.  You’ll think of others at the event that they might have fun conversing with.  Introduce them.  It’s called networking.  I know people on the internet know nothing about this (LOL), but it can be done.

Third, if you are introduced to someone do not just leave them standing alone!!!!  That is beyond rude.  If you must leave them, make sure you have found someone else for them to connect with.  This is really important if they don’t know many people there.

Fourth, if you are introduced to someone do not bring in others and have personal conversations, thus, excluding the person you were originally talking to.  Didn’t your mother teach you manners?


Some of this might sound like common sense, but step back at an event and watch how much of this really happens.

-          My husband and I were invited to a couple’s house.  They wanted us to meet another couple that they thought we would for sure hit it off with.  We sat throughout the entire meal and through dessert left out of most conversations.  The hostess never even tried to include me in any of them.  Yeah, we hit it off alright.

-          Attended a conference recently.  My husband is Mr. Social Butterfly.  He never meets a stranger.  This can be very irritating to us introverts.  So we came to a break in the conference and everyone began to mingle.  My husband walks off to go the men’s room.  I know him and he’ll be talking to everyone on the way in so I won’t see him for a while.  I sat there all alone because I didn’t know many people there.  I sat and I sat.  Not once during that two day conference did a single soul approach me.  I was miserable.  Remember that I’m an introvert.  Once the ice is broken I can handle myself, but I need that initial help.


These are just a few suggestions to bring back the old fashioned philosophy of hospitality and politeness.


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    • Maraiya Storm profile image

      Maraiya Storm 8 years ago from Prescott, Arizona

      Wonderful hub. It brings a lot to mind. First of all, I think that part of the problem is that parents aren't teaching their kids these things. Secondly, I think that a lot of people are shy and so don't attempt to go up to a stranger and start talking to them. Thirdly, I think that a lot of people are so self-absorbed and working on enjoying themselves at a party that they don't think at all about those who are alone and not enjoying the party, and they probably don't even notice them. Fourthly, I would think it could be difficult for the hostess to continually have enough time to monitor everyone at a really large party, even though they are trying to. But at smaller parties, it doesn't take a lot of effort for a hostess to talk to everyone and introduce people to each other and to notice if anyone feels uncomfortable and try to remedy it. This rarely happens, though.

      I find that hostesses try to introduce people to each other, but they don't do much to get the conversation started. They don't say anything about what the two of you might have in common, and so the two people are left to struggle for themselves to start the conversation rolling. This can be very awkward. Many times I have found that both me and the other person couldn't get a conversation going and so we both just wandered off. I wonder if this is quite common and not just my past experience.

      I have not usually been treated in the good ways that you describe. Only a few times did I see a hostess, or anyone else, try to make me feel at home and introduce me to people. I have found this to be a very rare occurrence. It can be very uncomfortable when you don't know anyone at a party or other social event and when everyone is just in their own little groups. I have felt like they are just all involved in their own conversations, with people they know very well, and they just ignore me. There have been many times when I have walked up to a few people talking and stood there and was completely ignored. That's why I haven't gone to very many parties in more recent years. The only thing that has really worked for me is to know the people at the gathering ahead of time so that I have someone I can easily talk to. I must admit, though, that in that case, I have been guilty of ignoring the newbies there, probably because I have been so overly focused on my own social needs and little group of well-known friends.

      I have never seen anyone write about this subject as you have, and I think it is extremely important hub.

      We all are so involved with trying to make ourselves happy at a party that we don't think about trying to make others at the party happier and less alone.

      When a person is full of inner love and self-confidence in social situations, then they tend to give more love and attention to the people who need a bit of a hand in getting acquainted with others. Also, when you are in a good mood, it is easier to socialize without needing a helping hand from the hostess. Some people can easily walk up to strangers and start talking and mingle, whereas others find this extremely difficult and awkward.

      Sometimes I have a good experience at a party, even though I tend to feel uncomfortable at first; and yet other times I don't have a good experience. A lot of the difference seems to depend on the mood I'm in, generally. When I'm feeling good about myself and my life, I tend to be less shy and more outgoing at a party.

      I used to have a job a few years back where I was the hostess/greeter and manager at a bed and breakfast retreat center. I actually found this role easy for me, and quite fun. I think that was the point where I overcame my shyness and gained a lot more self-confidence in social situations. I met lots of nice people, made them feel comfortable, socialized with them, introduced them to other guests, etc. Since I don't ever remember being a hostess of any parties or doing any kind of concierge or hotel work before that, it amazes me how well I did on that job. I think I did well because my focus was mainly on giving love and help to the guests, rather than being focused on my own needs. I also found that when I focused on greeting and helping others, I was making new friends myself at the same time, and so it was mutually beneficial on both sides. People are too self-centered, I think, and feel too needy. When you decide to focus on giving instead of on receiving, then you seem to automatically receive, too.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 9 years ago

      Wish more people would take heed of such simple things. Unfortunately most people are pretty selfish by long as they're happy in a situation they couldn't care less if anyone else isn't as comfortable. Great hub RG.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      JenArt, it is such simple politeness. But I see that being missing everywhere!!!!!!!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Sally's Trove, you are right when you say about being taught. I think a lot of it is being taught and many don't think that such "old-fashioned" teaching needs to be taught. I beg to differ. Thank you so much for stopping by and giving such kind words.

    • profile image

      JenArt 9 years ago

      As one who has been in fine dining for over 20 years, this hub is dear to me. People today have lost so much of what it takes simply to be polite. I'll never understand it.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 9 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      This is such an awesome Hub. Like Trish, I was graced with the rules of etiquette from my family's teachings and examples. It sounds so stuffy to say that, but these little graces make such a big difference in people's lives.

      It's a matter of paying attention, of genuinely wanting another to experience something good. It's a matter of putting your feet in the other's shoes. It is a gift that can be learned.

      Trish and I were taught well, and we learned well. There is never a stranger in our houses.

      Thanks so much for writing this Hub. Especially valuable is your perspective as an introvert. An introvert who gifted us with what she's feeling.

      Thumbs up!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Most welcome.

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 9 years ago

      Great tips! My mom and dad threw parties every year, both Halloween and New Year's perties. They were always a success. Both my parents were social creatures, especially my mom who worked in the restaurant business for over 40 years. She knew how to take care of people. What was also nice was, most often, my best friend would be spending the weekend with me, so my mom enlisted us to help clean, decorate, and even let us make the invitations. I'm not talking about store bought ones, these we created ourselves. They also were a big hit. It was nice that my mom let us participate, and we were allowed to say hello to the guests, then we retreated to my room.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Ripplemaker, then I would rate you a first-rate hostess. Thank you.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi RGraf, making a person feel at home and comfortable in a gathering can indeed be something special. If you attended my party and your husband left you and you'll be alone, you can count on me to talk to you! :) I vote for hospitality anytime.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thank you. I've seen a few do it and it is an art. It is just sad that people want to host but won't even attempt to be a good one.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      Making every guest feel as if they are the most important person at an event is truly an art. I've seen a few hosts and hostesses master this art and was greatly impressed. Good hub!