How to Practice a Xenia Respectfully & Effectively

A traveling God never happens when it’s convenient. Ancient Greeks never knew when a God would test their hosting abilities. Even if you already know how to practice a guest appearing, here’s a refresher with some helpful tips to make it less of an ordeal.

Xenia is the ancient art of hospitality. It has been around since 800BCE in some form in Greece. Hospitality or guest-friendship is a code when interacting with guests. These rules are often unspoken, as it saves time. Homer was writing about treating guests right, 2000 years ago

Homer for those who don’t was the educator of Greece according to Plato. With his ideas stretching beyond the borders of Greece. His main two works, the Iliad, and the Odyssey, scientists, and artists alike read it. Writing down much of what we know of the Greeks Culture. Collecting some of the most detailed tales that we have.

There are a few basic tenets: Give your guests food, drink, beds, baths. Now in the story of Sisyphus, I talk about how he broke the rules of Xenia and was subject to Zeus’s wrath. But I felt this left a hole in the knowledge of how to be proactive about it.

Now, I am not saying that you will get positive thoughts, by any god. I am not saying that you have to do any of this. But what I am saying is that building your friendship with your guests is a good thing. If you are looking for more tools, this is a great way to get there.

Greet strangers into their home

Beyond words. When we enter into someone’s else’s house, we are often at a loss of what to do. We have entered into our own home, hundreds, if not thousands of times, we know where the light switches are. But for a first time visitor, who is unfamiliar with your place. It would be ‘proper’ to give them clues, or hints, into what they should do.

Take your shoes off here, you can place your coat over there, and so on. Leaving them at the door, and only unlocking is a bit rude. Your guests guessing what they should or should not do. Unless you are in some kind of rush and don’t have time to give a proper entrance. As a general rule, the first time sets the tone, so try not to rush through things.

Action step:

Next time you are being greeted, into someone’s house, notice the things that they do or don’t do. Are slippers offered, if so what kind are they? What are the keys things that you can steal, or do for your own house? What did you not like, or enjoyed, in the first few minutes when you got into the door.

Feed Your Guests

Once inside we can take them to a variety of locations. Depending on the time, and importance of their arrival. If it is the night time, to their sleeping quarters is proper, if it is the middle of the day, the kitchen is best.

It is not polite to ask your guests questions until they have finished their meal. According to Ancient Greek traditions. So if you are hoping to get some big deals done, or have a question you are dying to ask. Wait until after the meal.

Action Step:

Search through some recipes, for your guests. What is going to be good appetizers that you can serve upon arrival? A main course dish that you can cook, and finally a dessert to top it off. Take into consideration, the region of food. Greece, Britain, Thailand, etc., and how many guests you are going to be serving.


Now the reversal of this is going to be if you are the guest at someone’s home, and they have finished the meal. Do not be afraid to offer your services for cleaning-up. Every household is going to be different. While some prefer to clean everything now, others may choose to wait. Be prepared for both occasions.

Offer Drinks

In ancient Greece trying to find good, clean drinks was much more of a challenge. While now, in the United States, finding any number of drinks, from coffee, booze, or water, is no longer a challenge.

Offer something that they can’t get on the road to your house. Smoothies, mixed alcohol, fresh tea, and coffee are all areas in which you can wow, your guests.

Action Step:

Prepare in advance for guests. Having fresh fruit around gives the range of drinks you can offer expand. As well as polishing any drinking glasses you might have. That makes the guest feel like a celebrated guess.

Bathe Your Guests

In my own experience, the longer a guest that has been on the road, they have got a want of a bath. Thinking once again to when these customs were being written. Dirt roads, an dirty clothes did not find people looking in their best condition. Guests should feel relaxed and refreshed for when they are speaking, not in an unpleasant mood in any way.

Now, even with our modern conveniences, bathing has many benefits such as:

  • Lowering blood sugar that can clear a mind of headaches
  • Falling asleep faster that reduces the anxiety of a new home
  • Relieves muscle tension soothing irritable traveling positions
  • Cleans, and Moisturizes skin relaxing facial muscles

Having a place for your guest to bathe, is one of the fundamental things that you can do. Getting them feeling right and bright. If you are anticipating the guests, then prepare your bathroom like the rest of your house. Being sure the bathroom is clean. Have extra supplies that can save guests from asking, and a few labels, if you wish to be so ordered.

Action Step:

Walk through the process of your guest taking a bath in your home, what are some of the things you wish you had, but didn’t. And what are the things that you like? Which you can enhance, to give them a great experience, that they might not get at even their own home.

Relax Your Guests

With your guest, well-fed, well-bathed, and well-hydrated, it is time to be comfortable. Now, this is a time to ask any questions you feel you may have wanted to ask earlier. For some, who wish to avoid conversation. I would encourage you to learn how to ask questions and engage with your guests. It is rare now to have face to face conversations. A note on making the guest comfortable, it is traditional to give them the best chair in the house. With chairs dating back even to the ancient Greeks. Everyone has had a more comfortable chair than the rest. Which I find amazing, and think it should still be being practiced. It is enough to offer the chair if it is being rejected then do not push, but making the offer will please Zeus.

Action step:

Pick your most comfortable chair. This can take as little as ten seconds, but having this in your mind, before a guest appears is useful.

Say Good-Bye to your Guests

As your guest prepares to leave, it is customary to give them a parting gift. A book, that you have been meaning to give. A hand-written note is a personal favorite of mine, that recalls what was being said, and when it happened. Snacks are a great option, coasters, tea bags, hand-cream, face-wash. The packaging is the difference between something that seems like an inconvenience. And something that seems like a gift. Give a gift that seems like a gift, not something extra, you had lying around the house, that you didn’t want.


The opposite is that if you are a guest entering into someone’s home, it is proper to give a gift as well. With a lot of overlap into these gifts. Sweets or candies is a fine gift but shoot for 30$ and not a candy bar. Wine is good, as well, it will depend on the reason for your visit. But generally, most occasions have guide-books that go beyond my scope.

Practice Hospitality.

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