The Hostess “It is the privilege of a hostess to entertain and look after guests.”


One of the thing that has always sparked an interest with me is sociatal pressures, ideologies and expections that are put on via media, historical traditions and status.

The reason I have chosen to look at the role of the hostess is because of the idea that as a hostess you should be flawless in the delivery of your party or will forever be in social ruin. This idea has caused so many people to feel fear and trepidation at the thought of planning a party or even just a organising a small gathering of friends for dinner and drinks.

The main focus for my project will look at the expectations of  the a hostess for a dinner party. I will look to historical traditions, present day advice and ideas to the contrary, in order to see if the traditional pressures on the hostess are still relevant in our society.


“It is the privilege of a hostess to entertain and look after guests.” The New Home Encyclopaedia edited by Joan Wheeler 1932

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3 thoughts on “The Hostess “It is the privilege of a hostess to entertain and look after guests.”

  1. It is strange, but I have never felt these pressures. I always loved having people around and entertaining, serving food, but sometimes I can get lost in a conversation and forget that people are “dependant” on me to get more food or drink (Sue probably knows what I am talking about ;-)) In these moments I expect my guests to make themselves noticed or even help themselves.
    After all most people I invite into my home are friends and as such treated as family. I don’t aspire to put up a mask of perfection that is not a reflection of reality.

  2. A lot of people feel the way you do about this but, I would like to ask: do you clean your home before people arrive, do you make sure that you have good food that you want everyone to love, do you buy flowers, do you wear something nice? All of these thing are part the preparation of entertaining and these things go back to the Victorian era. There was so much written about how to entertain and what your duties as a host are and what is expected from your guests. What I am looking at is that do these thing still apply and do we still feel the pressure to be good hosts. One of the things that I have found is that it is down to you as a person and your experience. If you are a confident person and entertain a lot you will feel much better. If you are like me I love to entertain but I worry and stress about every detail and will always panic if things start to go wrong, even if the people at my house are my closest friends and family. However, I do try to keep my stress to myself which I think is where the idea of a ‘mask of perfection’ comes from. It sounds like you have a natural way of hosting which sounds effortless and comfortable for you. I am still looking for mine!

  3. I do all the things you mention and I do all the panicking before anybody arrives. As soon as the first guest comes through the door I am all joy and happiness. Depending on our guests we sometimes include them in food preparation and other tasks, which mostly lets them feel more involved and breaks the ice.
    Being partly Latin American we also have a habit of visiting friends unannounced, so some of my friends know my home in a chaotic state and me with unwashed hair, which pretty much initiates them into family.
    I worry much more when our parents are around and want to take over. In this instance I insist in being host and want them to relax and accept my offer. If they don’t I get seriously stressed. I guess everybody has a weak spot 😉

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