By Janet Osman
It’s said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. When you invite someone to your home for the first time, this rule gets bent a little. If you are dressed to impress in public, but your home has been shut down by the city health department, it’s definitely going to affect how someone sees you from that point on. Being ready and willing to meet a colleague, a friend, or a date at your home shows confidence. You are showing that you are on top of things, including your laundry.
Whether you plan to discuss sensitive work-related issues over coffee with a co-worker or invite someone special over for dinner and perhaps a little more, preparing your home for a guest is like dressing for an interview. Basic cleanliness goes a long way, and a few special touches will help you stand out, but you don’t want to be memorable for having too much going on.
Before you issue an invitation, you want to lay some groundwork so that making your home look presentable doesn’t require professional help. This is your home. Where does your stuff live? If the answer is “somewhere on the floor”, you have a lot of work to do. It’s much easier to keep your home looking neat with a place to put everything.
While you are making space for things, find one or two locations for cleaning supplies, and keep cleaning supplies on hand at all times. This will speed up any major cleaning operation.
Don’t make an invitation if you are not sure that your home will pass muster. If it’s been more than a week since you did anything to tidy up, then you need to take a rain check.
Don’t get drunk. You don’t need to drive to get yourself home, but you may need to see her home. Even if transportation is not a factor, it’s still “first impression” time. Do you want her to think that what you do the moment you get home is hit the bottle? You don’t need to stick to seltzer water, but pace yourself with the alcohol.
There are a few things you can do that will leave your lady guests eager for a return engagement:
Tidy up. This is obvious, but it should include all the areas that are visible from where you will be. Do a walk-through from the front door to the living room, the dining room, and the bathroom. Anything within sight of those areas should look and smell clean. Air fresheners exist to subtly enhance a clean room, not cover up for the unholy stench coming from your refrigerator.
Have refreshments ready and at the proper temperature. This shows consideration for your guests. A plate of sliced fruit, cheese, and crackers is easy and classy.
Have all supplies ready. If she’s there to study with you or get work done, don’t wait until after she’s arrived to start hunting for your books or anything else you need. Have everything ready so you can begin work the moment she steps over the threshold. If this is a date, have a playlist of music set up, so you aren’t getting up every five minutes to select the next song.
For dates: keep it simple. Have something to do besides eating and, ahem, the bedroom, available for entertainment, but don’t feel as though you need to put on a three-ring circus. Some music and conversation is often enough. Consider a movie or even a game if you don’t feel up to talking much.
Be prepared to arrange for her safe return home. If you two have had a drink or two, or it’s very late and she does not drive, call a reputable cab company (have this number stored in your phone). Ask the fare in advance, and pay the driver directly or give your lady friend the cash. If she is driving or taking public transport, walk her to her car, the station or stop.
It may seem overwhelming, but with a bit of practice, basic entertaining will become routine. Men don’t always learn the art of being a good host. Being a good host is about making the experience of coming onto someone else’s turf as pleasant as possible, for both parties.