A very important gift for organizing successful gatherings is the sensitivity of the host. There are women who know all the secrets of a good reception but do not have any tact or delicacy. They will never mistake a seating plan at the table, but when they open their mouths, they will embarrass their guests with unpleasant phrases or heavy mocking. Their good manners are only formal and outward but far from complete.
Who, for example, amuses all the other guests behind the back of one of them – the shyest, naturally, or the most naive one – is not a good host.
And so those who, mock others in an exaggerate and an aggressive way for fun will annoy and embarrass everybody and will compromise their evening.
Another thing that embarrasses tremendously guests are over anxious to please hosts. His kindness may become so excessive that he forces others – in order to free themselves from such excessive cares – to do
what they do not want to do at all. And few things make you as furious as being ‘forced’ with compliments to do something that you don’twant to.
Then there is the too casual hostess. It is the hostess who is never ready when guests arrive, who forgets that two hate each other and invites them at the same time, who has set the table with one less seat and she only realizes it at the very last moment, who does not worry at all that her guests may need anything or want something else. She says, ‘they’re just friends: they’ll be fine! Let’s not forget that not every one is so casual and, if at first, it may be funny, after a while you’ll get really annoyed.
It is necessary to make your guests feel important, let them speak, make them more appealing by asking them appropriate questions that high light their personality and intelligence. If the evening threatens to get boring, it is necessary to entertain and attract the interest of the others yet without tiring them too much. It is essential to know the most difficult of all the arts: the art of conversation.
(Taken from La Cucina Italiana. Magazine for families. Founded in 1929. February 1962)