For as much of an introvert as I am, I really do enjoy having friends and family over to stay at our home. Part of it is that I feel a bit more in control of the situation (anxiety tends to rear it’s ugly head when I’m in more unfamiliar territory) and part of it is because I like spending time with people in a more intimate setting where there is more opportunity to have proper conversations rather than idle chit-chat.
Having a dedicated guest bedroom has also been a revelation. I’ve never before had a home that had a proper one and while I realise that’s certainly a privilege, prior to that, I still enjoyed having people to stay even when it meant a blow-up bed squeezed aside my desk in my office. It has been pretty great, though, to have a space that’s just for visitors which means I can spend a bit of extra time ensuring the room is ready, rather than running around last minute, trying to figure out where the blow-up bed had been stashed up in the loft. I admit I don’t miss that bit!
Even if you don’t have a guest bedroom (or a room that doubles as one when friends or family stay), there are plenty of ways to prepare guests for their stay in your home. If there’s one thing that’s always at the top of my mind when we host friends or family here, it’s that I want them to be comfortable. Considering the house is still far from what my ultimate vision is for this place and there are many rooms that need an awful lot of work, they are not here just to see the house, they are here to spend time with us. Remembering that means it really doesn’t matter if things in your own home aren’t quite perfect – that’s totally okay.
So today I just wanted to talk about a few things that I do to prepare my house for guests and to ensure they are going to have a lovely time, no matter how long their stay. If you are expecting friends and family over the holiday season or into the new year, hopefully, these tips will help to clarify what you need to concentrate on in the middle of what can be a very busy and stressful time.
Guest Room Preparations
I spoke a bit about creating a really great guest bedroom in this post but as a little reminder, take your inspiration from great hotels or BnB’s you’ve stayed in yourself. Make sure there’s a place for their belongings and some hanging space somewhere for things like long dresses or suits that will wrinkle in a suitcase. This can be anything from a bit of free space in a wardrobe or some hooks on the door.
Extra touches like travel-size shampoos, body wash and the like are another nice way to make guests feel less awkward about asking for things they may have forgotten. I always collect them from my own stays at hotels and leave them for guests to help themselves in a small wash bag or basket in their room.
You’ll also want to make sure there are fresh clean linens on the bed, a set of towels left out that guests can use and some extra pillows and throws just in case they get cold. Of course, how warm a person likes it is so subjective so consider adding a small table fan in the room that guests can use if they get too hot during the night.
Before they arrive, leave a window cracked open to get some fresh air in the space too and make sure there is a free plug socket somewhere handy for them to charge any devices overnight or during their stay. A carafe of water and a clean glass is another nice touch so that guests don’t have to get up in the night if they are thirsty.
Clean and Declutter the Bathroom
Of course, you’ll want to give your entire home a good clean before guests arrive but pay special attention to the bathroom your guests will be using. If, like us, you’ll be sharing a family bathroom during their visit, be sure to give everything a thorough clean. The last thing your guests will want to see is your toothpaste splatters all over the mirror or tap or your collection of lotions and potions taking up every square inch of space on your basin.
Clear the clutter from surfaces and make sure there’s space around the tub or shower so that your guests have somewhere to place a wash bag whilst they are getting ready in the morning or turning in for the night. You’ll also want to make sure you have a few extra rolls of toilet paper easily accessible to guests – no one wants to be the person who has to ask their hosts for more and you’d probably prefer for your guests not to have to route through your cupboards trying to find it!
First Impressions Count
Now I’m aware it’s currently winter in the UK and in the Northern Hemisphere so for us anyway, that means rain and wind and it’s not entirely conducive to doing a whole lot outdoors. However, you do want to make sure that when guests arrive, they aren’t tripping over bikes, wheeling luggage through a muddy path or having to climb over your recycling to get to the front door. A quick check and tidy up is a good idea to make the best first impression and make sure guests feel welcome as soon as they arrive.
Same goes for your front entry hallway. Huge piles of post should be sorted and cleared away and ensure there’s some room for them to hang their coat or remove shoes when they walk in the door. Being crowded by your family’s towering personal possessions will likely make a guest feel like they are imposing on your space and so making some space and clearing the clutter will make your home feel more welcoming.
Be conscious of scents
Did you know that when you live in your own home, your nose will stop detecting any lingering smells because you just get used to it? Oh dear. Having three pets, I’m utterly PARANOID about this fact because while I love my fur babies, I don’t really want my house to smell like we have three animals in the house.
Dust baking soda on carpets and rugs and leave to rest for a few hours for it to absorb any lingering odours and then vacuum thoroughly. You’ll also want to clean any pet beds or throws they use often and wash any soft toys before guests arrive. It also goes without saying, if you have litter trays, make sure you clean them thoroughly, replace the used litter with fresh and make sure any solid waste is scooped up and thrown away both before and throughout your guest’s visit.
I also enjoy burning a few nice smelling candles in the hours before guests come over. While I might not leave them burning continuously, it does fill the air with a pleasant scent that lingers even after the candle has been blown out. I also love room diffusers as there is no naked flame with these and they can just be left in a room to do their job. Of course, be aware that strong scents may be irritating to people too so while you don’t want to go overboard, a few lightly scented options might be something to think about.
Take Them Through to Their Own Space Immediately
Because we’ve just moved into our home, our guests normally want a bit of a tour first thing. If it’s the first time your guests have seen your home, there may be the temptation to show them around as soon as they walk through the door but resist the urge. First things first, show them straight to their room and allow them a few minutes to settle in and place their bags down. One room you may want to show them immediately is the bathroom! If your guests have just done a long journey in a car or train, they may be in desperate need ;) Make it easy for them to relax as soon as they come around your home.
Communication is Key
If guests are staying for a few days, it’s sometimes good to have a few options available of things to do and you may want to give them a bit a heads-up about what you’ll be doing on their visit. For instance, if you are planning a long walk in the countryside or taking your guests to a lovely restaurant in the evening, make sure you tell them so they can bring appropriate clothing, footwear or outerwear with them.
You might also want to let them know what to expect in the mornings – what time will breakfast be? What time do you usually wake up? Can they help themselves to coffee/tea? If they will be in your home during times you will not be, consider getting in some breakfast foods or snacks that can be easily grabbed on the go: Yoghurt, muffins, bagels, breakfast bars, fruit and the like.
If they will be in your home during times when you are not, consider providing a spare key to them so they can leave the house on their own and if you have an alarm system, make sure you leave instructions for them on how to work it. Similarly, share how the TV remote works in case they’d like to relax to a bit of Netflix before retiring or watch the news when they wake in the morning. And of course, make sure you share your Wi-Fi password with them!
Finally, I always let people know we have pets as well. Are they scared of dogs? Allergic to cats? While I can’t kick my animals out of the house, I try to be conscientious of those who are less comfortable around animals – perhaps ensuring the dog is not scaring them half-to-death with his excited barking when they arrive by leaving him in the back garden while they settle in or keeping the door to their room closed so the cats don’t end up sleeping on their bed!
So those are just a few of my top tips for what I do to make sure my home is prepared for any overnight house guests! Have you any tips to share? I’d love to hear them! Are you expecting overnight guests over the holidays or into the new year? Let me know in the comments!