There are so many Little Things that make up day-to-day life, things we take for granted and assume a general knowledge about. Parenthood has a way of highlighting some of the more humorous (the things you never thought you'd have to spell out), or the more mortifying (love that parroting stage...), and each stage of parenting covers new aspects of those Little Things.
Today, we were talking about how the Graduation Party is really the first time your student is an adult at a party - he's the host, the greeter, has responsibilities of making sure to do the rounds and thank each guest for attending.
The kids have always been great about party prep and being gracious -- offering tea and refills, clearing places at the table, pitching in on the pre-party cleaning and set up. I hadn't given any thought to the fact that this would be his first time being "on" at a party. Usually once the guests arrive, the kids splinter off to go play Werewolf or The Resistance, into the meadow for airsoft, or up to the fire ring for a campfire. They do their thing. The kids are good hosts to other kids, but how does it look different for a young person to be a good host to other adults?
In a lot of ways, it's no different - you greet everyone, offer drinks, show them the food. If they're new, show them the Good Bathroom and give them a heads up about snakes by the creek (because both are just generally appreciated). But in some ways, it's very different. I realized we hadn't necessarily articulated the difference, but I'd like to.
In keeping with our mantra to "set them up to succeed," it makes sense to give a fledgling a heads up about some of the new bits, or more nuanced aspects of being the host. (This is brainstorming at its finest, here, so please feel free to add any you can think of, too!)
* Be on hand to greet people as they arrive and take an active role in getting them introduced.
* Spend intentional time visiting with each of the guests, more than just your buddies or peers.
* Accept help - if you're still setting something up, or finishing something in the kitchen when guests arrive, and they ask how they can help, give them something to do. They'll enjoy being able to participate, you'll have company while you work, and everything will be done sooner so you can all enjoy kicking back and visiting.
* Keep an eye out for guests who may feel uncomfortable, or who may not know others at the party. Introduce them around, bring up things they have in common with other guests as a topic of discussion to help them find their groove.
* Keep an eye on the food and drink - keep it full. There's something about abundance that creates a willingness to partake. People are far less likely to take some salad, or a beverage, if there's only a bit in the bowl or cooler. Make it easy for people to enjoy themselves by maintaining a sense that there is plenty and they are welcome to it.
* As guests leave, you really need to get up and see them off, personally. A bit more than a wave good-bye from your game of cards that children can pull off.
These are all pretty universally applicable to any hosted event. For the Grad, there's the added element of graciously receiving gifts and then remembering to mark down who gave you what so that your thank you notes are personal and clear.
And, of course, the actual writing of thank you notes.
...the mailing of thank you notes.
I need to buy stamps.
So, what are some of your favorite tips for young men and women as they make the transition from "kid" to "host"?