‘Tis the season for hosting overnight guests. The winter holidays are the biggest time of year for traveling, as well has lending your home to guests as a place to stay. Having overnight guests (or weeklong ones) can be lots of fun, but it can also be pretty stressful. It is hard on your family as you try to accommodate your guests, and it is hard on them because they are trying to accommodate you. These simple tips will help you know what to do when preparing and entertaining house guests, and what not to do as well.
DO change the bed linens. If you have a guest room, include an extra set of sheets and a few extra pillows somewhere in the room. No guest room? No problem, a fold out couch or air mattress works fine and they won’t mind at all. Just let them know where the linen closet is and ensure them they are welcome to use it’s contents anytime.
DO lay out enough towels for the amount of guests you have. My grandmother has done this for every guest she has ever had and it makes them (me included) feel extra special. She puts a stack of folded towels and wash cloths at the edge of the counter so there is no question about where to look to find them. Another great bathroom tip is to load up on trial sized bathroom necessities. Save your guests the hassle of having to go out to the store to buy a razor or toothbrush. Plus you’ll be the hero of the day for being prepared.
DO find out their schedule. Do they go to bed late and sleep in? Do they retire early and rise with the sun? These are important to know, not just for planning activities, but for making them feel at home. If your guests are crashing on a fold out couch in your living room and they usually get to sleep by 9:30, give them their space and allow them to stay on their regular schedule. If you are the one that goes to bed early and your guests stay up late, they won’t mind at all if you leave them. Just make sure they know where the remote is and the Wi-Fi password. They will quietly keep themselves busy until they are tired.
DO leave the coffee, filters, sugar, and creamers in easy to find spots for early risers to find. When people are guests in someone else’s home, they are always looking for some way to help out. A lot of guests wake up early and want to have coffee prepared for the host. And others simply can’t function without it…Mom, I’m talking about you… Even if you aren’t a coffee drinker, it is nice to have a cheap machine for guests to use. You can pick one up and it’s components for a pretty slim price tag and it will definitely be appreciated.
DON’T feel like you have to cook every single meal. Make things easy on yourself by utilizing make-ahead dishes. If you live near town and have lots of dining options, take everyone out for breakfast or pick up barbecue from a local shop for lunch. You don’t have to show off your best cooking skills and dishes. If you have friends or family from out-of-town that don’t visit often, take them to your favorite Mom And Pop restaurant. There is a restaurant in Ila, Georgia that I always want to go to when I visit family. The fact that I don’t get it often makes the food taste so much better, and it’s a great tradition we have.
DO pay extra attention when cleaning your house. The goal is to make your guest as comfortable as possible. And the hard truth is they notice the things you don’t. You may have cleaned the way you do every Sunday and it looks great, but you overlook the cobweb in the ceiling corner of the guest bathroom you never use. You want your house to look super clean so guests feel good about staying there. Wipe down the baseboards, vacuum the carpets, mop the hardwood floors, dust the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling, and pay extra attention to guest bedrooms and bathrooms.
DON’T entertain constantly. It’s so much fun to see people you don’t get to visit with very often, but remember that they are away from the comfort of their own home and may want a little downtime. After a long drive or plane ride, offer some quiet time if they need a rest. After a trip downtown to show off the great local shops, come back home and have a little TV time. Some people like to go-go-go all the time, but others like a little R&R. Remember that this is their “vacation” and they may just want to chill.
DO take a break. Having a house full of people can be very stressful. More mouths to feed, more dishes to wash, more people to clean up after, and more noise than you are used to. If you start to feel a little overwhelmed, excuse yourself to get the mail outside or take a short walk. Even making a convenience store milk run can give you some much-needed quiet time. Make sure your spouse and children know this too. Your husband may need a break from his father-in-law and your kids will eventually get frustrated with sharing toys with their four cousins.
DO be a good guest in return. When you are the one staying with someone else, ensure that you are doing things to help out your host. Help clean up after meals, make your bed every morning, keep clothing and bathroom items tidy, and bring a small thank you gift like a bottle of wine or homemade desserts. Being a good guest will make your visit less stressful for your host and he or she won’t want you to leave. This ensures you will have a nice place to stay again and again each time you return to the area.
Having guests is such a rewarding experience and if done right, will have them wanting to return again very soon. Good old-fashioned hospitality is the way to go.
What are some ways you make having overnight visitors more enjoyable for everyone? I’d love to hear what works for you.