A couple of weeks ago my friend Julie and I took an impromptu road trip to Chelsea Quebec to see our dear friend Patrice. If you don’t know your Canadian geography Chelsea is a thirty minute drive out from Ottawa. Patrice lives in a house that could easily be featured by Time Out Society. In the winter her property is a snowy forrest wonderland, and in the summer she spends every free moment swimming in the Gatineau River – located steps from her front door. Patrice is reason enough to make the four hour drive from Toronto – but the little town she has built her home in really sweetens the deal. Our girls weekend was full of laughter, indulgence, relaxation and fulfilling conversations – one in particular was about the role hosts and guests play. While some people are Thinkers and Planners, others are Doers – both equally important and valuable when participating in life. Etiquette for hosting and guesting doesn’t not come naturally to all walks of life – including myself until my late twenties, I was clueless. I’ve asked Patrice – someone who hosts quite frequently to share some advice and tips for us to use ourselves;
MMLY: Key Tip for Weekend Guest
Patrice: Come prepared to be pampered and to pitch in. My best weekend guests know when to let me spoil them and accept it with grace but also know when to contribute … it’s a delicate balance.
MMLY: Key Tip for Daytime Guest
Patrice: Anything you can do to help set a great atmosphere is amazing –- if the scene needs some good music, plug yours in. If there are other guests and you haven’t been introduced … say hello. Come with some great stories and be prepared to have a good time.
MMLY: Key Tip for Dinner Guest
Patrice: If you want to help out .. be specific about things you can help with e.g. “would you like me to light the candles?”, “is there a bottle of red I could open for you?” … keep your eyes out for things that might be helpful and ask or just do but don’t keep saying … “can I help you?” or “what can I do to help?”
MMLY: What are Your Favourite Snacks to Put Out?
Patrice: Antipasto and some gourmet crackers.
MMLY: Favourite breakfast, lunch, dinner?
Patrice: No favourites — changes all the time based on guests, mood and quality of ingredients. I do try and make it pretty special and decadent but with small hacks to make it easier on me. For example, if I’m doing eggs for a large group, I’ll often crack them into muffin tins and cook them in the oven. Then, all I have to do is make an amazing sauce like hollandaise and put them on a freshly baked croissant.
MMLY: Favourite Activity?
Patrice: We love having outdoor bonfires with our guests in the summer and sitting around the indoor fireplace in winter. Playing games, telling jokes and getting back to the simple things. In the summer we also love to host cocktails down by the river at our house.
MMLY: Favourite Personal Patrice Touch?
Patrice: I love a well made bed — I want my guests to feel like they’re falling into a hotel bed. Good quality linens, lots of delicious pillows etc. Oh… and flowers … always flowers!
MMLY: What is the Best Gift a Guest has Ever Brought You?
Patrice: I can’t pick just one – impeccable wine, ceramic bowls, linen napkins, homemade linen spray – I’ve received some lovely hostess gifts over the years. Love when weekend guests leave a note + gift in their room when they’re leaving. I find these when I go to tidy the room and it always eases my sadness on account of their leaving.
Thank you Patrice for taking the time to share your tips with me and my readers. You are solid gold and I hope to see you and Rags again soon. XO