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Mom, Manners, and The Meranova

Mom, Manners, and The Meranova

By Dr. Jane N. Geiger, M.A.

You have arrived fifteen minutes early.  
You are one hour late.

You have nothing of interest to say to the other guests. 
You are not naturally interested, not curious, not provocative . . . don’t want to be here?

You’re socially shy, and forgot to take your social anxiety prescribed pre-party meds.
You’re socially comfortable, but talk about yourself . . . droning on and on and on . . .

You spilled red wine on the cream carpet.
You tried to clean it yourself, creating a wide circle of what looks like pink pudding.

You forgot to bring a thoughtful hostess gift or card.
You forgot to thank your host at all.
You forgot about the party, altogether.


Who better to consult about the topic, “What traits make a guest go from good to great during holiday season?” than two innkeepers who have over 75 years of hospitality experience between them?  No one.  No one, except my mom.  So, while researching for this article, I went back into the archives of my Mom, the consummate hostess AND great guest, as well as mining the sage stories from Frank and David, the owners and innkeepers at the Meranova Guest Inn, Dunedin, FL.

WWMS?  What would Mom say?  I know I was younger than 7 years old when I first heard my mom (former R.N., mother of 4 children) say, “When you come to the dinner table, please remember to be both interestING and interestED.”  Yes, the emphasis is EXACTLY how she sounded-out those words.  She wanted all four of us to be not just socially adept, but to truly care.  As a Registered Nurse, she had already made a career out of caring.  She would not tolerate narcissism, rudeness, speaking unkindly, interrupting, or showing up with nothing to give to the group, our family of six.


Frank and David, the innkeepers, are the perfect perfectionists to weigh in on what makes a great guest.  Between them, they have worked in the hospitality industry as: A five-star chef, head waiter, manager of wait staff, concierge to executive guests, and sole proprietors of a full-service inn.  The Meranova Guest Inn has been featured in major travel and cuisine magazines for nearly 15 years. Their pearls of wisdom actually apply to being a great guest anywhere, anytime, and all year long.

Not only do these innkeepers have experience on the hospitality side of life, but also on the guest side of the exchange.  Yes, you guessed it:  They have experienced some of the finest restaurants in the world, the restaurants that have a 9-month waiting list for a reservation. This is what people with perfect palates do with their pennies.  Cool, huh?  And, they notice everything.  More vitally, they appreciate the efforts, the details, and the beauty . . . the carefully crafted ambience of all things created so specially to provide the finest dining experience possible.  They get it. We can, too.

Frank and David and I spent 5 days together on my most recent work/play trip to Dunedin, FL, so we had lots of time to craft a “Top 5” list . . .
Frank and David’s Top 5 Great Guest List:

  1. Arrive on time . . . meaning, either on-the-dot or a few minutes late.  If you arrive early, you may create stress for your host or hostess.  Empathy goes a long way here. Visualize your host making the finishing touches . . . lighting candles, placing bottles of chilled wine in ice buckets, and checking the food once more.
  2. When you think you’ve purchased the perfect host or hostess gift, think again. Thoughtfulness expressed in the gift communicates care.  If you do not know your host or hostess well, kindly ask a friend of theirs to share some details about their personal tastes and/or what they may need.  It’s not about the cost or the size of the gift.  It’s about being thoughtful.  As Frank said, “Think again.”
  3. Conversationally, be prepared to “hit the ball back over the net.”  Yes, this is an exact quote from Frank, who is extremely frank.  If you tend to be socially lazy, you may want to read anything by Daniel Goleman, the guru of Emotional Intelligence (a Dr. Jane tip). Engage with others.  Be curious. Care. Listen. Bring your A-game to the party.  And, as David added, “Bring some joy to the festive occasion.  It is a party, after all.”  My mom used to say, “If you’re bored, then you’re boring.” She was so very right.  If you don’t possess the art of mining the gold out of others’ souls, it’s time to learn. If you are eager to learn about people, and learn from them, you will never be bored.  My mom taught me this social lesson when she gave  me pots and pie pans to play with on the floor in the kitchen.  I was 5, I think.  Narcissists, by the way, often think others are boring, and hate to listen.  Be the party you wish to attend.  Thanks, Gandhi.
  4. Know when to offer help.  Some friends help decorate the week before a party.  Some friends help you dust and vacuum.  Others refill ice buckets, check your candles, and pour wine when needed.  Pay attention. Your host will love you!
  5. Express gratitude, having noticed the details.  Look your host or hostess in the eye, and say, “Thank you for ______,” and fill in the blank with some particular details of their efforts. Your host will invite you back! Both sides of hospitality, hosting and being the guest, require effort.  

Every day, Dr. Jane N. Geiger and the staff at Chattanooga Counseling learn a little bit more about how to provide a warm and gracious nest for their clients. Thanks for teaching us! Reach us at and we will be ready with candles lit, bottled water, peppermints, comfy couch . . . and, no risk of pink pudding, as we don’t serve merlot on white rugs. You’re safe!

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