There are times when I feel like good hospitality is a lost art form, especially in my own home. People don’t RSVP. Hand written thank you notes are a thing of the past. Sometimes I start thinking of the dirty dishes that will need washing and the beds that will need changing before a guest even arrives.
In the busy world we surround ourselves with simply gathering together gets put on the back burner.
My recent stay at The Ladysmith, Miranda Lambert’s bed and breakfast, re-kindled my deep love of hosting and serving with gracious hospitality. Sure the décor was wonderful and the bedrooms were cozy, but the hospitality started before I even left the house. UPDATE: I am sad to say The Ladysmith has closed, but all you see here is still amazing!
Not only did we receive the standard e-mails confirming our reservation, we got a personal phone call from The Ladysmith’s Innkeeper, Ashley. She was calling to discuss who was coming, potential food allergies and to see what she could do to enhance our stay, like book a massage. She was preparing for us. And that just makes you get excited and feel wanted from the get go.
Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed with fresh chocolates (yum) and a grand tour of the property. You can tell all the employees there love the hotel, their job and serving you. They were genuinely happy to have us and short of robbing a bank, I think they would have done anything to make our stay perfect.
I took a few notes from the hospitality play book at The Ladysmith to share with you. They are great ways to make a visit to your home as warm and inviting as this fine tuned hotel.
- Welcome ahead – When you know you will be having guests reach out and let them know you’re looking forward to having them! A simple text or e-mail outside of the initial invitation will do. This gets the warm and fuzzy feelings flowing before they ever step foot in the door. Don’t be afraid to ask people if they are coming to your party. You invited them…let them KNOW you WANT them there, it’s no secret! This does two things. It helps guest feel wanted and let’s you plan properly with an accurate head count.
- Give the tour – If the visitors you are welcoming are new to your home, take them on a tour. It doesn’t matter if things are perfect, people are there to visit, not judge! It makes for great conversation and really breaks the ice.
- Mix it up – I adored the way The Ladysmith uses mismatched dishes. Different patterns of plates and cups, casually paired with bandana napkins. Don’t be afraid to loosen up and mix it up. This takes some of the stuffy pressure off a dinner party. It would be fun to see how people gravitate to a place setting that attracts them. I have already incorporated this mixed up plate situation into my cupboards. It’s so fun to eat on a different plate every night. It speaks to the collector in me that wants to scoop up every cool plate I see, but doesn’t have a place to display them. Now I do…my table, every day! The juxtaposition of good china and a casual napkin are so fun…try and work that into your table setting as well!
- Individual attention – Every course of the spectacular breakfast at The Ladysmith is individually made. The three (yes THREE) course breakfast has you eating out of mason jars and iron skillets…all personal size! I can’t tell you how special this is. It’s like that little slice of Heaven was made JUST FOR YOU…because it was. All because of tip number one above! Consider that in your menu planning. It may not be practical to do all courses this way, but I have a desert recipe below (straight from The Ladysmith) that will fit the bill!
- The perfect morning beverage – If you are having overnight guests, I can’t stress this enough. Having a person’s morning drink on hand is a BIG deal. So ask what they like ahead of time and have it for them. Just think…what are you like without your morning Diet Coke or hot coffee with two spelnda and Italian Cream creamer? I’m certainly not the same version without it! Thank you in advance. 🙂
- Plenty of room to chat – The Ladysmith is intentionally decorated with low profile seating and lots of it. (more tips from interior designer Phara Queen here.) There are many different areas to camp out and have a chat. It may sound silly, but think about where you would like your guests to hang out while they are over…the back patio, living room or sitting area…make that space inviting to encourage a comfy gathering spot.
- Guest Stuff – Treat your guest bedroom and bathroom like a hotel. Stay in there a night and see what it’s like. Is the bed comfortable, does the room get too hot or cold? Stock your bathroom with extras like a hotel does. Travel size shampoo, conditioner, shave cream…all the stuff people forget when they hit the road! Hang a few robes in the bathroom to lend out for visitors. All these touches avoid company having to ask for things or go without while staying with you.
- Save the dishes – Ashley served us our three course meal and then she stayed and talked with us. My friend and I were full of questions and she patiently hung out and answered all of them…never rushing off to clean the kitchen and do the dishes. All that can wait until your guests are gone. Don’t miss the moments that count to get ahead on the impending housework. Laundry and dishes are more fun to clean while replaying great conversation in your head. It’s the ultimate be a Mary, not a Martha situation (Luke 10:41-42).
- Use Love – This is the only tip I got from the mouth of The Ladysmith’s innkeeper Ashley. She says the only secret ingredient she cooks with is love. I totally believe her. Her food is delicious, mainly due to the fact that it’s thought of, made with, served with and shared with LOVE. If you don’t want to have guests over, then don’t. If hosting isn’t your thing, then don’t. You have to love doing it or it will be obvious that it’s a job, not an act of service. You would never know that The Ladysmith wasn’t Ashley’s very own B&B, she shines with a servants heart for the place! That friends, makes all the difference.
- Come back!!! – One of The Ladysmith’s goals is to make sure you want to come back when you leave. I would say they do a great job of accomplishing this goal. It should be our goal too. If you serve with a joyful heart all the rest will fall in place and your friends will be clamoring for an invite back. If you make this cobbler it might help too, just sayin’!
Peach & Blueberry Cobbler
- 1 can of peaches
- 1 bag of frozen or fresh blueberries
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup flour (gluten free works too!)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 6 TBSP of butter – cut by the tablespoon
- 6 Mason or canning jars
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Fill your jars 50/50 with your peaches and blueberries. This works best if you layer the fruit. Leave a little room at the top of the jar for your cobbler mix and butter.
- Mix together the brown sugar and flour. Add a pinch of salt.
- Scoop approximately 2 tablespoons on top of your fruit.
- Place 1 tablespoon of butter on top of each.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until your topping is bubbling and lightly browned.
- (Optional) Top with a little heavy cream or fresh whipped cream.
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