Hosting overnight guests: 10 easy tips to help your visitors feel welcome
Because I’ve got another big book deadline looking me in the face this week, I thought it apropos to republish this post from October 2008 about hosting overnight guests in your home. With the holiday season fast approaching, most of us either have guests headed our way, or we’ll soon be guests ourselves.
As you’re reading this, we are hosting out-of-town guests in our home for a few days. Some people where we live kindly refer to us as a “bed and breakfast” because we have so many guests pass through our hallways – and we love it.
We don’t have a lot of room, but we do our best to make room for anyone who needs a pillow to rest their head for the night. Part of our family’s mission statement is to extend love to those around us, so we feel like making our home a haven for all who enter is a small way we can honor our relationships.
Yes, it’s a bit exhausting to have extra people within your walls, and yes, it does provide more work – for a time. But really, we truly love having guests. They usually play with our children, which everyone enjoys, and it provides us a nice break from the hum-drum of daily life. Hosting guests doesn’t have to be a pain – it can be something you look forward to.
Here are 10 ways you can help visitors feel more at home.
1. Be yourself.
Truly. Most house guests aren’t expecting a perfectly immaculate house, and if they are, there’s no point in loading your shoulders with the pressure to try. The best kind of guests are there to see you, not you on stage.
2. Let your guests be themselves.
Really mean it when you say, “Make yourself at home.” If you’re willing to have guests, be willing to let them put their feet up on your coffee table. This is within reason, of course – don’t let manipulative people treat you like a doormat.
3. Provide extra toiletries.
We have a basket of basic essentials that we bring out for overnighters, and we leave it on the guest bathroom counter for them to help themselves. It’s nothing fancy — just toothpaste, soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, and unopened toothbrushes. I stock up on some of these items when they’re on sale, and this is also a great use for those travel-sized freebies from hotels.
4. Make things easy to find.
When guests first arrive, have all their needed towels either out on the bathroom counter, or on their bed or night stand. If they’re early risers — earlier than you, anyway — leave out some basic breakfast goodies for them to help themselves. Don’t forget the dishes and silverware, too.
If they arrive after a long trip, put a little basket of refreshments on their night stand. A simple bottle of water, a package of nuts, maybe a banana, and a little welcome note can really make them feel welcome.
5. Keep coffee and tea on hand.
Even if you don’t drink it, a coffee drinker is always thankful to have the means to make a cup of joe in the morning. It doesn’t have to be anything high-end if you don’t drink it, but make sure it’s fresh.
6. Create some simple extra touches.
Place an inexpensive flower in a small vase on their night stand. Provide a great-smelling candle and a book of matches. Make sure there’s an alarm clock available, too.
Photo by Virginia
7. Provide reading material.
Collect a few magazines and put them in an easy-to-reach basket near their bed. Maybe even select a good book of short stories (short stories are good, so that guests can actually finish what they’re reading, as opposed to a long novel). If there’s something you’ve really wanted your house guest to read, now’s a great time to oh-so subtly leave it on the night stand, waiting to be read.
8. provide information about where you live
. If they’re in town on vacation, provide some brochures about tourist spots, a map, and maybe something unique about where you live for them to enjoy while they’re in town — a book from a local author, a travel guide, or a CD from a local musician.
9. Let them help around the house.
Don’t put them to work, of course, but I’ve learned after having 25 overnight guests this year alone, people will be more relaxed and feel less like an intruder if you say yes to their inevitable question, “Can I do anything?” Let them do something small, like set the silverware at the dinner table, or stir the soup bubbling on the stove. Chat with them while you work together.
10. Keep your immediate family’s time sacred.
This can be challenging, depending on the situation, but do your best to still spend some quality time with just those in your household. This is especially true if you have small children, who don’t always understand why Mom is busier than usual, or why a new person is sleeping in their playroom. It doesn’t have to be anything major — simply continuing with the usual bedtime story, or snuggling on the couch and asking about her day — can keep little ones content and less likely to act up for attention.
Do you like having guests in your home? What’s the hardest part about it? Share your hosting tips that work well for you.
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