Turkey 710: How to Host

I’m way overdue for a Turkey lessons post…So I’ll bring out one of the most important topics any lady living in Turkey for any amount of time is going to need.

Especially if you’re married into a Turkish family.

And that’s how to host guests.

If you’ve been here for five minutes, you’ll know that Turks are all about socializing and having guests over to their homes. If you’ve been here for 20 minutes, you’ve probably been roped into helping clean and prepare for them. It is an event.

 Especially if you’re guests are Turkish (neighbors and distant relatives in particular!).

 Here are some guidelines for how to be a successful host by Turkish standards.  Show your mother in law what you’re made of!


  1. Have the cleanest house in the land: Your house has to appear as if a nuclear bomb of bleach and Pinesol went off in every room. If you don’t want someone in a room, close the door.  Even better, lock it.  There’s been more than one Teyze who “accidentally” wandered into a messy bedroom or kids room, just to tell everyone and the street dogs about it later.
  2. Buyrun, to the sitting room:  Coral your new guests into your nicest room, usually the sitting room.  Nothing is better than showing off all your nice things to your guests, so that they don’t talk about how poor of a home decorator you are when they leave.
  3. Kolonya, kolonya, kolonya: Don’t forget to offer a dime-sized drop of kolonya (cologne) to your guests after they have seated themselves. This is particularly important for guests who have come from a distance.
  4. All the tea, all the snacks: Be sure to have the tea going before your guests even arrive. But don’t be fooled into thinking tea is enough.  Even if they are coming to visit when it isn’t even almost a meal time, have the snacks at the ready.  Some borek, kisir, sarma, or potato salad is always welcome.  And you need- need- need to have some kind of sweets available. If it’s nearing a meal time, you best be ready to serve a full meal, with several options.
  5. Keep the sepas at the ready:  Don’t even dream of making your guests keep their plates or tea glasses in their lap!  Put out the sepa (the stackable, small tables) beside your guests before serving.  We aren’t barbarians!
  6. Empty plates are evil plates:  As soon as someone has an empty plate (or glass!) offer to fill it up for them again.  Don’t be shy to do it 100 times.  Even if you don’t get to eat yourself, that’s too damn bad.  They are guests, and you are a slave.
  7. Turkish coffee, anyone?:  After everyone has eaten their fill and talked a lot of gossip, offer them Turkish coffee (or if preferred, nescafe). Be prepared to make four different batches to please everyone’s palate (you can’t add sugar after making the coffee, so if someone wants sade/plain, someone else wants orta/middle, and someone wants very sweet, that means you make three different coffees).
  8. Never stop doing something: If you try to enjoy yourself for even a moment, you are a terrible host.  Get back to work!

Unlike in the US, guests will not try and make your life easier.  It is ok for them to make you miserable and make your life hard as anything.  Like a boy scout, be prepared.

And put on your war paint.

Because hosting is a hard core job, but someone has to do it (and if you are a gelin, its gonna be you!)

4 thoughts on “Turkey 710: How to Host

  1. Woah. This is intense.

    I usually just, you know, wipe down the bathroom, pick up the visible scraps of paper or whatever on the carpet, and cut up some cheese…..you are putting my “hosting skillz” to SHAME! Yowza.


  2. “They are guests, and you are a slave.”

    pretty much sums it up! i hate hosting and i hate being a guest at turkish homes. having people over or visiting someone is supposed to be fun!

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