HOW TO BE THE PERFECT SUMMER HOST: Reviving the Art of Etiquette with Ellen Lubin-Sherman

How To Be The Perfect Host This Summer
Ah, summer.  The time of year when owners of vacation homes open their doors and invite people to partake of their hospitality.  In my humble opinion, it is much easier to be a host than a guest but we’ll get to the role of being a guest in a minute.  For now, let’s focus on the role of the host.
The host must be genuinely happy to entertain their guests.  There is nothing worse than arriving at someone’s house and feeling you have imposed.  Hosts should cancel a weekend holiday if there’s an illness or an emotional issue in the family.  
A host should not feel compelled to serve three meals a day.  In fact, a savvy host will write a letter and leave it in the guest bedroom (along with a nice supply of fresh towels) that spell out the details:  Guests are on their own for breakfast and lunch; dinners will either be in a restaurant (guests should expect to pick up the check!) or served at home with the guests either setting the table or chopping the mint from the garden.
A host should have a “mi casa es su casa” attitude by showing guests where to find the bottled water, sesame crackers, white wine, cashew nuts, and fresh fruit for late-night snacking.
A host should provide a box of tissues in the guest bedroom as well as bottled water and red licorice.  Some tabloids placed on the nightstand (especially those with “Surgery Gone Wrong” headlines) are also a nice touch.
A host should have an extra blanket in the bedroom closet.  Extra pillows are nice but not mandatory (this is a home, not a four star hotel).
A host should provide a list of nearby places of interest but not be expected to accompany or (heaven forbid) escort the guest to these places of interest.  (When my parents had a summer house in Long Island, NY, I must have taken guests to see Martha Stewart’s beach house at least 2000 times.  I’ve tried to erase that from my memory bank but can’t seem to do it.)
A host should have inexpensive beach towels for guests to use at the beach.  
A host should put a new bar of soap in the guest bathroom.  (No explanation necessary).
A host should not dictate when guests can retreat to their rooms for sleep.  Guests can only entertain their hosts a certain number of hours.
As the guests leave, a spectacular host will stand at the doorway and watch the guest leave and continue to wave good-bye till the car or cab has left the premises.

How to Be A Perfect Guest This Summer
Lucky, lucky you!  Your company is being sought by someone with a vacation home who enjoys entertaining (and being entertained) by people with a fine sense of humor, impeccable manners, and a keen understanding that the visit should be no more than three days!  
While the host has his responsibility, so do the guests. The role of the guest is to put the host at ease, converse easily, be flexible in terms of scheduling, prepare their own food if they have serious food issues, entertain themselves rather than expect to be entertained; make their bed, clean their bathroom, strip the beds at the conclusion of the stay, offer to remake the beds (I told this to someone and they suggested “maybe the guest should stay home!), and bring a charming gift that you know the host would adore.  Some suggestions include:  The iconic LL Bean “boat bag” with the hosts’ monogram; his and hers or his and his or hers and hers matching beach hats; and/or something handmade and vintage like the potholders you made in nursery school.
Take your cues from the host.  If they enjoy staying home at night playing Scrabble and you’d prefer to sit at a bar and watch the Yankees vs. the Red Sox, chill on the bar and baseball and play Scrabble.  If the host’s idea of fun is to climb a mountain known for its mountain lions, climb that mountain.  You are there, my dear guest, to be cheery, charming and, delightful and most importantly, to bid adieu when the three days are up.  And you, my dear host, is to be yourself – giving, generous, thoughtful and, non-judgmental about your guest’s choice of food, sleeping pattern, and partner who drinks all the wine and puts their shoes on the coffee table.  (That’s why your guests stay has an expiration date!!!) 

Ellen Lubin-Sherman literally wrote the book on how to be fabulous.
The Essentials of Fabulous is available on AmazonKindle, iTunes and select shops across the country. To find out more about Ellen, go to The Essentials of Fabulous, connect with her on FacebookTwitter and you can always drop her a line right here at


  1. Oh fantastic post! Thanks for posting some great reminders. I especially loved the host gift ideas. Thanks:)

  2. Brilliant suggestions!!! Living in our country home 95% the time ~ entertaining friends is sometimes like a revolving door here. And now that we have decided to no longer rent out the main and upstairs part of our home in the city ~ so we have a comfy place to stay on our visits to the city; friends are already wanting to know if they can stay there if they go to TO from out of town....

    This is certainly a great source of info ... thank you for such a great post! xo HHL

  3. This is such fabulous advice–for everyone! Would it be uncouth to email it to our guests arriving this weekend...?

  4. Thanks for all the fabulous tips and ideas! XxxX

  5. Great post! We just returned from a trip to Charleston. My MIL is the perfect hostess.
    xoxo, B