If you live in a big city, you have likely held the position of “host” at some point or another. Whether it be friends or family, hosting can feel stressful; the unspoken expectation is that you serve as your city’s unofficial ambassador of fun. You’ve lived here for six months now, what do you mean you don’t know the best place to get Turkish food on a Wednesday? (Hold on, let me check Yelp…)
All this aside, if you love and care about the people that you’re hosting, you genuinely want to show them a good time. This past weekend I hosted one of my best friends from college, Colleen, for a quick 24-hour trip; here are the things I learned from her stay (along with the several other hosting duties I’ve had during my time in New York):
1) IT TAKES TIME TO KNOW YOUR AREA
It took me over a year to feel like I could properly show someone the city without a lot of planning involved. This sort of knowledge doesn’t just happen overnight. In the past year, I settled into an apartment, and with that, slowly became more familiar with my neighborhood and the surrounding area. If you’re not at this stage yet, don’t stress! Give yourself a few extra days to plan, browsing sites like TimeOut and Yelp so you have options of things to do when your guests arrive.
2) EVERYTHING MIGHT NOT GO AS PLANNED, AND THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY
This weekend I tried to take Colleen to a trendy art installation in Greenpoint. We arrived at 3 pm and were promptly told there was a 5 hour wait to get into the exhibit (typical for a hyped event in the city).
Rather than make the trek back to my neighborhood right then and there, I pulled out my iPhone and noticed a park a few blocks away. Turns out this park had one of the best skyline views of Manhattan (plus an adorable bakery right down the street). I joked with Colleen that this was all a part of my master plan.
3) VENTURE OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Just because your guest is visiting New York City doesn’t mean you’re required to take them to Times Square or Top of the Rock. Rather than visiting the typical tourist traps, I love showing off “my NYC,” focusing on the shops, restaurants and events that are off the beaten path but still totally worthwhile.
4) MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
… that being said, if your guest expects to have the “New York Spectacular” experience (e.g. Times Square, Broadway shows, dinner in Hell’s Kitchen, tea at the Plaza, Sex & the City Bus Tour) you should probably just suck it up and be a good sport about it.
5) ALWAYS HAVE YOUR GUEST BRING A TOWEL
Because being unable to shower until you’ve got the quarters to do laundry is never fun.
6) GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS
All out of inspiration? Talk to your city friends and co-workers about their go-to spots to take out-of-towners. We’ve all scrambled with the challenge, come up with our own hacks, and when I’ve asked for advice, I’m usually met with a lot of enthusiasm and willingness to share (people are flattered when they discover that someone thinks of them as a seasoned local).
And the last, very important thing to remember:
7) THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT HOST…
… but if you put in a little bit of effort, it will go a long way in the eyes of your guest.