Are Seattleites Lacking in Hospitality?

I was talking to someone from the Midwest who stated that we Seattleites are not very hospitable when guests stop by our homes. This person claimed that in the Midwest, if someone came by the house the host would drop everything and offer the guest something nice to drink, like fresh squeezed lemonade, and a tasty snack bordering on a meal. Further, in the Midwest it’s common for people to just drop by.

Seattleites on the other hand don’t welcome unplanned guests and when people do stop by, according to this person, we are not very hospitable. She claimed we don’t even offer something to drink and if we do that’s the extent of what we would offer; no bountiful repast like the Midwesterners.

Being a native Seattleite I do know it would be weird if someone just dropped by. Not that I wouldn’t necessarily welcome it, but it would be unusual. And, I always offer something to drink, but it would be rare for me to make fresh squeezed lemonade. I might offer seltzer, juice or maybe some ice tea, if it’s summer. It would be uncommon for me to bring out food for an unexpected-just-stopping-by-visitor, unless of course it was lunch or dinner.

So, I guess the Midwesterner is correct. But, I’d love to hear from others, especially those who came from the Midwest. Are Seattleites lacking in hospitality? Seattlelites, how do you feel about unexpected guests and what, if anything, do you do to welcome them?

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. nwinch on September 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Arden- I’ve worked in Eastern WA on telecom projects and have had lemonade, sandwhiches and bountiful plates of cookies offered to me (as a complete stranger) when calling on households. People are not as friendly on the west side of the mountains.
    My hi-tech Espresso Machine always allows me to offer some sort of delicious coffee drink to drop-in family members or visitors… I’d be lost without it.

  2. Carole on September 28, 2010 at 4:05 am

    The difference seems more about city vs. country living. I’m thinking the standards for hospitality are the same in Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, L.A., New York, and even Spokane and the Tri-Cities than they are in more rural areas. In the city, ones personal life is highly structured around work, school, after school activities, family time, after hours business networking, etc. Our social lives are handled in scheduled activities (often school and work related) and the concept of having free time to drop-in-on or be-dropped-in-on just doesn’t exist. In fact, in the circles I travel in, it is considered rude to drop in unannounced. I can remember doing it only once in, oh, the past 20-30 years…and I called on my cell a few blocks away to make sure it was OK. It was a new friend who had recently married and moved here, so it was a hospitable gesture to extend myself as a friend. I was offered a glass of wine. I probably would have declined an offer of food other than say, crackers and cheese and felt I was putting her out to have accepted–or expected–more. It’s not more or less hospitable, it’s just a different culture. We socialize in other ways. In my fast-paced life full of socializing on many levels, I do not have a desire to move somewhere where a drop-in culture is the norm. If you live where the geography is more spread out, the concept makes a bit of sense–the person may have traveled to get there and needs a respite and you may desire the news and socializing that they may bring.

  3. Arden Clise on September 29, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Nancy, isn’t it amazing that people in Eastern WA are so welcoming. I think it goes back to the small town hospitality. I guess they haven’t been hardened by the city or maybe I should say overwhelmed by the city, therefore are more welcoming.

    Smart to have a quick espresso machine for drop-by guests.

    Carole, I agree. As mentioned above, it does seem country or even just small towns are where you’ll find more hospitable people.

    Isn’t that interesting that you would feel you would put your neighbor out by accepting food. Yes, the big city life is definetly a different one from smaller more rural areas.

    Thanks both of you for your comments.

  4. Ann Kruse on October 2, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Arden –
    I grew up in a medium-sized city in Iowa. I never experienced people dropping by unannounced or the lavish food and beverage offering your described.

  5. Arden Clise on October 15, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Hmmm, maybe it’s an urban myth Ann. Have you noticed any differences in the hospitality between Seattle and where you came from?

  6. Sheila Berndt on October 28, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I would love to talk about this subject! I’ve lived in Minnesota (rural mostly), Arizona (smack dab in the middle of the city), Kailua, Hawaii (which is an interesting mix of rural/city) and Seattle (well, Bothell and Mukilteo). My mom always had the mindset to have things reasonably picked up just in case “someone stopped by”. So, even though it causes me a tad bit of extra care – I LOVE drop in guests! There’s a big difference between hospitality and entertaining. Entertaining usually is done to impress and you offer hospitality to comfort. So, it’s a priorty in my life to be available to lend comfort or friendship. Next time you do a photo – instead of the lady with the pie, pearls and apron – you can show me smiling with my comfy yoga pants and a good cup of coffee – and you can toss in a plate of chocolate cookies for enticement 🙂

  7. Arden Clise on October 28, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Your post makes me smile Sheila. I can see you in your yoga pants, comfy top and chocolate cookies in hand. It sounds very inviting. Perhaps if I thought guests were going to drop by at any time my house would be a little, OK a lot, cleaner. I think I’m going to start having that mentality because I do love a clean house.

    Thanks for commenting.

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