Monday, June 12, 2017

Being a Good Host

(This blog was originally posted on April 15, 2014)

Photo by Rick Hustead

In January, I had brunch with relatives I had not seen since I was about 10 years old. Last night, I saw one of those cousins again at a Passover Seder. This was the first night of Passover and, apparently, the first time he had ever experienced this holiday. I know from my hypnotherapy training how and why it is not always easy or comfortable to participate in an unfamiliar holiday or event (subconscious unknown); but he was a very enthusiastic and appreciative participant (guest) in this very interactive meal. His interest and apparent joy about being included in the Seder inspired everyone else to also pay closer attention to and appreciate the significance of the many symbolic elements of this meal.

It also reminded me how important it is to be a compassionate and involved host in order to help each guest feel welcome, relaxed, interested and interesting so everyone can have a great time.

Advice for the Host(s)

  • Do as much food and set-up preparation as possible well before the guests are due to arrive. The less rushing around you have to do, the calmer you will feel and the more relaxed you will be during your party.
  • Consider assigning seats around the dining table to facilitate introductions of specific guests or, if necessary, to separate others who do not get along.
  • Remember to breathe! Deep breathing increases the flow of oxygen throughout the body, via the bloodstream. Draw a deep breath through the nose and hold it for the count of four. Imagine, visualize, picture or pretend that you are inhaling confidence, relaxation, calm and any other positive emotions that represent to you a comfortable social interaction. At the count of four, exhale that breath through your mouth. As you exhale visualize, imagine, picture or pretend that you are releasing the anxiety, discomfort and/or any other negative emotions that you have previously associated with these kinds of social interactions. Say/repeat the following mantra: “I am very relaxed, calm and confident. With each deep breath I take, I am becoming even more relaxed, sociable and in control of everything around me. In fact, the harder I try to do or be the opposite, the more comfortable and outgoing I become/am.”
  • Take a relaxing bath and/or do some meditation to deepen your sense of relaxation. You can even do some self-hypnosis to reinforce suggestions that your party will be fun and successful in order to assuage any anticipatory anxiety about the event. These suggestions may include: “My guests will feel relaxed and enjoy meeting and inviting these new people into their lives”; and “(As the host or hostess) I release any and all worry or negative expectations and will have fun at my party.”
  • Do not assume that a guest is bored or uninterested in what is going on at your party just because the person isn’t doing much (or any) talking. It takes some people a little while to relax and feel comfortable in a social environment, let alone a bustling or structured one. Sometimes, this kind of event can be overwhelming—so much so that the physical stimuli and activities going on induce a gentle trance or light state of hypnosis!
  • Be an interested host: Ask your guests questions and listen to their replies. Invite them to participate in different aspects of the event, such as proposing a toast, helping to serve part of the meal, leading the group in prayer before the meal, etc. Not only do these kinds of activities help to integrate individuals within this new social group, they also facilitate conversations between the guests during the party.
  • Similarly, if your guest(s) offer to help you serve part of the meal or beverages, or want to help you clean up afterward, it is okay for you to accept this offer. I find that people often want to pitch in this way. It is an opportunity for guests to show how much they appreciate the time and effort their hosts made to put on a successful event, as well as to be more involved in it.
  • Once you have introduced all of your guests to each other, do not linger to monitor these interactions. It is natural for conversations to ebb and flow. Your guests may have more or less in common with each other than you hoped or expected; however, it is out of your hands whether they a friendship or other relationship ultimately develops from this introduction.
  • Point out common interests that your guests share. This will help to break the ice and facilitate conversations. If you someone seems uncomfortable, make a point of striking up conversation with that guest. Discuss things that you know he or she is interested in and make a point of introducing that person to others at the event who are likely to share a common interest.
  • Eat protein (cheese, meat or non-meat protein substitutes, nuts, etc.) before and during the event to stabilize your blood sugar and keep your mood even.
  • Alcohol lowers inhibition and can consequently affect your mood and confidence, so avoid drinking or limit your intake of alcoholic beverages before and during your event. Similarly, even if you are serving alcohol, be sure to offer your guests nonalcoholic beverages such as water, fruit juice and even soda to drink. Restrict the amount of caffeinated beverages you drink, which can also affect blood-sugar level and your mood.

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy®, please visit
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