Categorized | Shabbat Dinner, Shabbos

How to be a great guest at a Shabbat Meal and More!

Posted on 01 May 2011

How to be a great guest at a Shabbat Meal and More!

How to be a great guest for a Shabbat Meal and More!

Since I recently spent almost 3 weeks in Israel for the Pesach holiday, I ate at a lot of people’s houses for Shabbat and Holiday meals. We also slept over a couple of times at other people’s houses.

I’m no Miss Manners, but I’ve given a lot of thought about how to be a great guest and also how to be a great hostess. I’ll devote this post only to how to be a great guest and write another one or two on how to host guests.

– Leave the house cleaner than it was before you came. This applied primarily to a house that I slept in, but we always left the house cleaner than it was when we got there. Yes it was a HUGE effort and we dedicated a couple of hours cleaning up as we left the place, but it was worth it.

Here’s how I know.

There was an apartment we wanted to rent that we had stayed in last year and we were fearful it wouldn’t be available because we were a little “last-minute” in securing it.

When we called the owners, they said, “Oh, we really weren’t going to rent it this year but since you left it so clean last year, you are really the only people we are willing to rent it to.” That really made me happy 🙂

– When you’re sleeping over someone’s house, try to stay out of the way of the family. If you have a basement guest room or upstairs room that you are to stay in, try to stay in the room for things like reading or even playing with your kids. I think it’s really hard to share a living room space between two families and because each family has their own routine and own parenting style, it may be more difficult than you think. Perhaps set aside ahead of time that you can “bond” with the family you’re staying with. Ask them when they will be napping after the Shabbat meal and could you watch their kids for them or perhaps shmooze when they wake up.

It might sound a little anal to stay in your room and perhaps it doesn’t bother everyone, but I have a little bit of a hard time when people decide to take a nap on my sofa in my small living room when I’m trying to entertain my own 3 kids (and want to sit with them and read for instance, on my sofa!) and am also trying not to wake my husband up while he is napping. Think about it.

– Try to bring your own snacks and breakfast foods. Most likely the hostess will have prepared really nice Shabbat meals but not have thought of things like snacks and breakfast foods. Keep the crumbs to a minimum but have a couple of snacky foods in the room you’re staying in- maybe even a couple of plastic bowls and spoons for messier things like cereal. You may even want to let them know that you have food with you and is it okay to bring it up to your room.

– Think of things you MUST have ahead of time and bring them with you or have a conversation with your host. One thing I can’t live without is hot tea so I always ask for a kettle or something or if it is easy for her to set one up. I’ve had people come to my house a nervous wreck that I don’t have Diet coke for them and so now I always say to my guests, “Please bring what you can’t live without.”

2 Responses to “How to be a great guest at a Shabbat Meal and More!”

  1. You have really good points. Its the “smaller” things that will make the it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved .

  2. Chaya Hackett says:

    May I add that if you are using the hosts linen, ask if they want you to strip the beds and where to put the sheets and pillows and blankets. It seems to take me forever to get my house back in order after guests for the chagim. I think one year I found a pillow case filled with linen about 6 months aftger Pesach. Oh well… Thanks for your great suggestions!


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