A guest who is at ease in your home is the true mark of a homemaker. That’s one of our ultimate goals! Everyone is comfortable. So when overnight guests come into town, we want to take extra measures to ensure they’re comfortable. Here are a few ways to do just that!
Picture this – you get off of a 6-hour flight with a 2-hour layover and you’re staying with family instead of in a hotel. There are no towels in your guest room or the bathroom, so you can’t take a shower after your full day of travel. Dinner is running late and the young children of the home won’t stop knocking on the door, asking questions, and trying to bust down the door. There doesn’t seem to be much time to take a breath and gather yourself to finish your day.
Does that sound like a warm welcome to you?
When hosting guests, it’s up to us to make sure our guests enter our home relaxed, excited to visit, and comfortable. Overnight stays have an added layer of effort on our part, but the reward from those efforts is too numerous to count when everyone is relaxed and ready to have fun.
Preparing for Guests – The To-Do List
When preparing for guests, I always like to start with house rules. Our house rules are in place to protect our children. So we think of rules like “all medication and toiletries need to be stored in hard-to-reach places so little hands don’t get a hold of them.” Or “all doors need to remain closed so children don’t see them as an invitation to leave the house.” And the like. If you have personal convictions, like no alcohol or no guests you may not know, now is the time to voice those concerns to your company.
In this day and age, it’s also a good idea to ask about things like food allergies. If there are no food allergies, I move on to meal preferences and snack preferences. We like to eat a lot of protein with meals, but I find others don’t have the same preferences we do. So I adjust our meal plan accordingly.
When I have an idea of what our menu looks like for the duration of our guest’s stay, I move on to preparing the guest bedroom. I always make sure to provide extra blankets and extra pillows just for comfort.
I also take a look at my notes from the meal plan. I snag a couple of snack ideas and prepare a basket of goodies to welcome our guests. I’ll include travel-size packages of the snacks they prefer (something quick like granola bars work great, too), the wi-fi password, water bottles, travel-size shampoo and conditioner, stain remover pens, and travel-size laundry detergent.
An additional set of travel-size toiletries would be a great thing to include on the guest bathroom counter as well. Finish it off with fresh flowers and a lit candle and you have a welcoming space for someone to take a quick shower and relax before engaging with you and finishing their travel day.
Other things to include in your welcome basket – face wash, dental floss, a hair dryer, candy or sweets, gift cards to local places, slippers, coffee or tea, other travel-size toiletries like toothpaste and mouthwash, fruit.
If I knew our guests weren’t tech-savvy or didn’t carry around a cell phone, I would include an alarm clock in the guest bedroom as well.
Fresh linens are always at the top of my list. Not only is every bed made with fresh linens, but I also provide a spare set of sheets, usually in the closet to change the bed at their discretion. I also include bath towels, both in the guest bedroom and the guest bathroom, of various sizes. Don’t forget to stock your bathroom with extra toilet paper! The goal is to anticipate our guests’ every need so they don’t feel obligated to ask for things that may be readily available in their own home.
A great host is present for their guests from the beginning of their stay to the end of it. So if at all possible, if you’re a married couple expecting out-of-town guests, both of you need to be present for when your company arrives. I find that taking this extra step gives you the chance to put those finishing touches on work so you can focus your full attention on your guests. You also aren’t trying to decompress from work while walking through your front door to visitors. It’s almost like you never get the chance to relax!
As I’ve mentioned before, ensure fresh linens are available, the guest bedroom is well-stocked with treats, and small children have an activity to keep their attention while your guests get settled.
I would also encourage you to have something like a carafe of water and a snack like cookies or a fruit tray waiting so your guests can grab a quick bite to eat after their day of travel.
Hosting With Small Children
Our children were toddlers the last time we had out-of-town guests stay with us. And boy – I wish I had prepared ahead for my children! Here are a few of the things I wish I would have done differently.
- Have a few activities planned for just the children. This could be anything from sticker books, new toys to break out in times of overwhelm, or even taking a walk around the neighborhood before dinner time.
- Prepare them to leave guests alone. Little ones are very curious, but when a guest needs a moment alone in their bedroom, it’s important to give it to them. Before our guests came, I encouraged our children to stay away from the guest bedroom and leave what is not ours alone.
- Prepare better sleep places. Should you ever have to move children around, consider preparing that place well ahead of time and even letting your child sleep there before guests arrive. Include something like a white noise machine. These have risen in popularity over the last few years and may help little ones sleep if your guests are early risers.
- Involve them in the preparation. Little hands can make projects overwhelming. But they love to help! Let’s involve them in the process and even make comments like “What do you think we will do while our guests are here?” or “Do you think our guests will enjoy their welcome basket?”
Hosting Guests During the Holiday Season
If your guests are expected to stay through a holiday season, there are a few things you can do to ease your stay.
- When meal planning, take it a step further and prepare meals in advance. Include meals that freeze well. Casseroles, enchiladas, soups, stews, etc. Be sure to include breakfast items as well! I love making a batch of pancakes, freezing them, and popping them in the toaster to thaw. So simple!
- Don’t be afraid to opt for store-bought options for meals and snacks. If your guests are staying for more than three days or two nights, consider giving yourself a break and buying a few preprepared meals from the grocery store. I love these modern conveniences – especially for snacks!
- Don’t overexert yourself. Preparing holiday meals and treats, delivering the treats, hosting out-of-town guests, and attending holiday gatherings is a lot when you’re the one running the show. Remember to not over-exert yourself this season! I have also found guests are more than happy to help out.
- Include your guests in the food preparation or party preparation. If your guests are able, they can be helpful hands in food preparation or party planning. So utilize them! Again – don’t feel like you have to do everything.
- Set boundaries early. Before having guests come, remember to go over house rules with them. But during the holidays, take it one step further and ask about expectations. Is there an activity or event they want to attend while they’re in town? Is there a family dish they would like to see at the dinner table? Is there a way or certain day they’d like to exchange gifts? These may sound like menial things to account for, but expectations can ruin relationships. Let’s get that out of the way now so everyone can enjoy their holiday.
- Consider establishing pockets of “alone time.” While you are preparing dinner, or maybe during the afternoon after lunchtime, consider having a time when everyone retreats to their rooms to nap, read, or do an activity of their choosing. The downtime may be a welcome break from the business of the holiday season. Remember, hostess – you need a break too! Dishes and activities can wait!
- For small children, prepare activities before guests arrive they can perform by themselves.
Three days and two nights is considered the expected length of a vacation. Even while with family! What are your thoughts on that? Comment on this blog post and let me know!
My Favorite Hosting Tips
I don’t host often, but when I do, I have a few things I always fall back on.
- A little planning goes a long way. Meals, events, or outings don’t just happen. Even if your guests are expecting some downtime, find a few activities to do locally that can be fit in anywhere on the trip itinerary. That way, you and your company aren’t trying to awkwardly make conversation.
- Take the extra step to decorate your home. Your house doesn’t need to be decorated down to the sequins on your throw pillow. But adding a red or green pillow to the holiday guests visiting around Christmas adds that extra festive flair that everyone can appreciate.
- Little luxuries can help you and your guests. Don’t be afraid to splurge on extra toiletries, softer sheets, or store-bought meals to give you more time with your guests.
- If you aren’t enjoying yourself, your guests aren’t, either. Avoid overwhelm or places you don’t enjoy going. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but don’t put yourself in a position of being so uncomfortable no one can enjoy themselves.
A cute, small welcome basket for your guests.
Here is a great example of travel-sized toiletries.
Reusable sticker books are a great way to keep little ones busy!
What are your tips for hosting overnight guests? Comment on this blog post and let me know!
I love hearing what other homemakers do to make their homes more inviting. The more we know, the more we can encourage others!