What's the Big Deal About a Visit?
There's no social occasion that presents the equal potential for pleasure and peril as hosting or being a houseguest does. While spending extended visit time together allows wonderful opportunities for building memories, there are pitfalls that anyone who has been on either side of this equation can tell you about. Luckily, with a copy of “The Art of the Visit” in hand, there’s no longer reason to worry.
Although author Kathy Bertone’s background is not in social etiquette, clearly she has enough real world experience over years of hosting guests with her husband in their Naples, FL home. She speaks from real world experience and there seems to be no detail left unaddressed in this book.
Advice for the Host
More than half of this book talks about the things the host should do while preparing for a houseguest and what will make for a successful visit. Bertone’s objective is not to place extra work on a host’s shoulders so much as to remind them of the things that will make a guest more comfortable and the visit more pleasant. She tells us everything we should anticipate prior to the arrival of our guests so that we’re not scrambling during their visit, but can actually enjoy our guests’ company.
You’ll find detailed lists of items to stock for the comfort and convenience of your guests in every room of your home, for every type of guest including the right bedroom setup for seniors to the best snacks to keep on hand for kids. But don’t be mistaken that this book is only a shopping/product list for entertaining guests because it’s so much more. She guides us in our mental preparations, as well. How should we lay the groundwork for the expected length of a visit? How to plan activities with the guest’s convenience and comfort in mind. How to set up your home so that guests can be somewhat self sufficient.
Advice for the Guest
On the other side of the equation and the other half of the book, we need to remember the responsibilities we have as guests for making a visit successful.
You may know that you should bring a hostess gift and send a thank you note after the visit, but have you thought about the things you could do to clean up after yourself before taking your leave? Or what do you say to your host if they’ve planned activities or expenses you don’t like or can’t afford? A big danger zone she addresses is how to handle visits involving children. There are things that both the adult host and parent guest can do to be sure the children enjoy the visit as much as the grownups and don’t cause any problems for the host.
Finally, she talks about our hairier variety of guest - pets. She tells us how to deal with guests who would like to bring along their pets, how to accommodate them if you choose, and how to make your pet a welcome guest.
The Bottom Line
As I read this book I wondered if it was really necessary. While a lot of this advice is simply commonsense and remembering to respect the feelings of others, many people seem to have forgotten how to do that in our busy world. By reading through the book, you’ll remember all of that good behavior you once knew, and many considerations that may never have crossed your mind.
Author Bertone tries to keep her tone light but sometimes it comes across as a bit formal. Eventually you forget the tone as you realize Bertone is always warm and her advice comes from a good place of wanting to help make visits easy and enjoyable for both host and guest.
Although some reviewers suggested it would be good to leave a copy of this book on a guest’s nightstand, that would be rude. But, once you’re done with it, leaving it around your kitchen for guests to come upon as they loll with a cup of early morning coffee might not be the worst idea.