The British do it. Perhaps we should, too: Keep a guest book in our homes to record visits of family and friends for later reminiscing.
Author/photographer Mary Randolph Carter thinks it's a good idea, so she produced "The Welcome Book" (Viking Studio Books, $14.95). It's an American version of a guest book, which has been a popular custom in England for some time.
Originally, these social ledgers were used for recording the names of those attending specific occasions, such as baptisms, weddings or funerals. Ms. Carter adapts the traditional guest book by combining function and fun to create a shared diary of remembrance and celebration.
Filled with beautiful photographs that illustrate American country life, this book can be kept on the coffee table for easy browsing.
There are photos of children dressed up like Halloween ghosts, beds neatly made with old linens and lace, dolls at a tea party and scenes of the seashore.
Blank lines on facing pages are for guests and hosts to pen
names, thoughts, anecdotes or sketches. Holiday pages are provided so photographs of Halloween costumes or Thanksgiving recipes may be included.
Ms. Carter organized her book by season and suggests in the foreword: "In springtime, a garden page will keep in mind the seeds you planted and how they bloomed -- and who the weeders were."
With a red satin ribbon to mark special pages, "The Welcome Book" would be a charming gift for new home owners or young people moving into their first apartment.
Ms. Carter offers these other ideas for welcoming guests:
* For festive evenings, outline the entrance walk to your doorway with flickering candles stuck into sand-filled, brown paper sandwich bags.
* A welcome mat's message often gets muddied by time and feet, so a better idea is a different kind of welcome tied to your front door. In the summer it could be an old straw hat decorated with wildflowers.