Harmonious House Guests‘Tis the season for welcoming overnight house guests. The hubster and I have been on the receiving end of some wonderfully gracious hosting practices over the years. If you’re planning a seasonal sleep-over, these observations should help you peacefully prepare for your visitors’ arrival.

First things first

Before your guests ring the doorbell, take some time to really think about who you’ve invited into your home. Think about what you most admire in them, why you appreciate them, and the good that you’ve seen them do – for others, for you, and for themselves. Take a mental snapshot of each of these concepts and keep them in thought. This will set the right tone for a harmonious visiting experience. In addition, this should help you plan for appropriate creature comforts and activities that bring out the best in everyone.

In the kitchen

Everyone has different morning routines. Make your guests feel right at home by providing self-serve breakfast items that they can enjoy at their leisure. A choice of hot and cold cereals, yogurt, fruit, and bread should provide the perfect variety for your visitors – especially if they’re eating breakfast at your house for a few consecutive days. Don’t feel like you have to cook a hot meal unless you feel so inclined and you know that others will enjoy it.

Provide a variety of self-serve snacks and beverages for the duration of your guests’ stay. Pretzels, popcorn, chips and salsa, crackers and cheese, and nuts keep well when stored properly. You may wish to provide herbal teas, cocoa mix, and local specialty beverages in addition to soda products, milk, juices, and other “standard” refrigerator items.

Tip: In advance of their visit, ask your guests if they have food preferences or special dietary requests. Make note of their responses on a list that you can refer to for their future visits.

At meal time, feel free to ask your visitors to help in the kitchen or with setting or clearing the dining table or buffet. Most guests will be glad to pitch in. If you’re hosting several overnight guests or a few people for several days, consider assigning chef duty to each person (or couple or family) for a meal. You provide the ingredients, they wear the aprons, and yummy results abound.

In the bathroom

Your guests will probably come prepared with their own shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, and deodorant. However, it’s always helpful to have extra toiletries on-hand. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to share those soap samples and shower caps that you’ve collected from hotels over the years. Give your company the royal treatment with robes and extra towels, if you have them available.

Tip: If your guests are staying for an extended period, you may want to empty a bathroom cabinet for their use. If you plan to make a hair dryer or curling iron available to your visitors, consider letting them know in advance so they can leave theirs at home.

In the bedroom

Make sure your visitors’ beds have clean sheets and are fully made before they arrive. Let your company know where they can find extra pillows, blankets, and an iron and ironing board. Ensure that each guest room has a working alarm clock, reading lamp, and other creature comforts that would appeal to you if you were a guest (this could include a heated mattress pad, mirror, tissues, night light, notepad and pen, mints left on the pillows, ear plugs, a portable heater, books and magazines, flowers, stuffed animals for small children, etc.).

Tip: Stash extra pillows, blankets, and empty hangers in the closets your guests will be using. Make sure these closets have space available for your visitors to hang clothing or stash luggage.

On the activities agenda

Plan activities that mesh with your guests’ interests. In advance of their visit, determine if there’s anything in particular they hope to do during their stay. Some ideas you may want to have in your back pocket:

Be a tourist in your home city: Visits to museums, monuments, buildings with interesting architecture, local dining hot spots, and other notable venues will likely be a hit.

Indoor games: Board games, a deck of cards, and some tasty treats can make for a delightful afternoon or evening.

Outdoor activities: A brisk walk around the neighborhood, a visit to a local nature preserve, an invigorating game of touch football in the back yard, or a day-long hiking trip can offer a fabulous change of pace.

Entertainment: Movies or an in-home talent show are an enjoyable way to end a full day. And if folks think they don’t have a talent to share, remind them that – in your expert opinion – tying a neck tie, blowing bubble gum, and telling humorous anecdotes about their first day of kindergarten are all talents worthy of showcasing.

The more joy that you sincerely express and feel, the more you’ll enjoy being a host/hostess. Have fun as you prepare to welcome guests into your home with the fullest expression of warmth.

* Photo by Jonathan Eggers

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