Today, I think it is important to discuss hospitality as a needed and somewhat disappearing virtue in the modern world. Traditionally, hospitality has been referenced as something one extends to a sleepover guest, such as providing clean sheets and a continental breakfast. Speaking from both experience and natural interest on the subject, I’d like to propose a multi-faceted idea of hospitality that is an extension of Bougie-ness. The Bougie gal takes the Girl Scout motto, “Be Prepared” (to extend hospitality), and adds a distinctive flair of sophistication.
Here a couple ways to expand your practice of hospitality.
The Unexpected Invite: Whether it’s an impromptu invite with an old friend after church, a surprise visit from the parentals, or a drop-by from your beau, having an easy meal available to prepare is très Bougie. Keep a frozen pizza on hand with a bottle of 3-buck-chuck, or a few servings of frozen soup with frozen baguette. Make sure your quick meal is hot and filling!
The Involved Host: If you have a pre-arranged dinner guest, don’t feel shy about letting them help with dinner. Not only does it take pressure off you having to have everything timed perfectly, but it lets them feel comfortable if they typically like to contribute. Your goal should be quality time and the gift of comfort food, not a culinary exhibit over which they are to ogle. If you’d rather put together everything yourself, at least offer a drink so there’s something to which they can cling for comfort while you catch up with the cooking.
Hosting a Traveler: When I was in college I had the fortunate experience of travelling abroad in Dublin. When I arrived I was given a printed schedule of the local buses, a tour of the house including laundry machines, and a walking tour of the village including church and grocery store. Then I was left on my own to be completely self-sufficient and do what I came for: travel. Each evening, my host would reappear and cook dinner, but otherwise spent her time at work and her sister’s house where she was staying. Give your stay-over guest a thorough lay of the land, then plenty of time alone to explore and re-energize.
Party Mingle: A common misconception holds that one must be in one’s own home/space to be hospitable. Not true, ladies! I learned this lesson from an acquaintance who would promptly introduce herself to new people while standing in a circle of old friends at another person’s function. She’d make eye contact, stick out her hand, and say, “Hi, I’m Ally.” She didn’t always make further conversation, but the cold wall of anonymity was broken, and the person then felt included in the group and free to add input. Your goal is to make people around you feel comfortable, so give that gift by taking a break from your comfort zone.
Restore Order: If you borrow something, return it in the same or better condition that you found it. If possible, put the item(s) back in place instead of leaving it for the owner to put away. This includes washing (and ironing) clothes borrowed from your casual roommate. If you use the last of the toilet paper roll, replace it! Leave a trail of comfort behind wherever you tread.