Preparing for overnight guests can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! While there may be a few picky people like your Aunt Stella, who notices every dust bunny and points out every fault, most guests are understanding and happy to just spend time with you and your family (that’s why they’re there, after all, isn’t it?). Chances are they won’t notice half of the imperfections that you do, and the ones that they do notice will just reassure them that you’re human like they are. On the other hand, allowing yourself to become stressed out and uptight about having everything in perfect order will just steal the joy from the visit.
The key to hospitality — whether your guests are coming for afternoon tea or to stay for a week — is to simply open your home and make your guests feel comfortable. Use this checklist to help you prepare with less stress:
Bed Linens and Towels
True story: When my husband and I first got married, I was 20 years old and had never lived on my own. Nine months after our wedding, we decided to move across the country to beautiful St. George, Utah for no other reason than it sounded like a great adventure! When our parents came to visit us later that summer, I learned a thing or two ant hospitality. One lesson I learned was to think about our guests’ needs in areas where we do things unconventionally. For instance, I use a loofah in the shower, and for some reason it never occurred to me to purchase washcloths for the guest bath. We also don’t use tissues (it just seems like a waste of money when you can use toilet paper just as easily). I quickly realized that although we didn’t use either of these things, we needed to have them on hand for our guests.
As you’re preparing for overnight guests, also think about the number of guests you’ll be hosting and where they’ll be sleeping. Do you have enough sheet sets, pillows and blankets? Are all of your linens clean and ready to be used? Do you have enough bath towels and wash cloths?
Food and Beverage
I love to have food and drinks on hand that our guests love, but this can be hard when they insist that they’ll eat whatever you have rather than giving you ideas ahead of time. If your guests are close friends or family, you may be able to think of some of their favorites; otherwise, it may be worth pushing just a little bit to find out what your guests prefer. Try something like, “I have to go grocery shopping anyway, and I’d really love to have some of your favorites available. What are your family’s favorite drinks, snacks, etc.?”
Aby from Simplify 101 also suggests putting together a basket of snacks for your guest so that they have something to eat late at night or in the early morning even if they’re not comfortable helping themselves in the kitchen.
There’s a reason most hotels keep extra toiletries at guest services. It’s because people often forget the most basic items when traveling because they’re focused on all of the other things they’re afraid they’ll forget. We like to keep a basket in the guest bathroom full of extras — toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, facewash, etc. Store extra toilet paper under the sink so that guests don’t have to ask you for a new roll. And make sure they know where everything is!
Everyone in my husband’s family sleeps with a box fan for white noise. My mom must have a television on for background noise. Knowing these things, we keep a television and a fan in the guest room just for them. We also keep our house fairly cold, but we turn it up when guests come and always stress that they can adjust the thermostat to whatever temperature makes them comfortable. Having an alarm clock and pillows of different weights and thicknesses can help guests sleep more comfortably as well.
Closet and Dresser Space
Whether you have a designated guest room or use one of your children’s rooms for guests, having available closet and drawer space for them to unpack their things can make living out of a suitcase less stressful. I know one of the first things I do when I arrive at a destination is unpack my bag because it’s so much easier to find what I need when it’s all put away nicely rather than packed tightly in a suitcase.
You don’t have to run a full-service bed & breakfast or hire professional cleaners before you host overnight guests. The key is to simply do little things to make them more comfortable and put them at ease!
How do you prepare for overnight guests? What other things do you do to make your guests’ stay more enjoyable?