Hospitality and Overnight Guests

Hello, hello!
I love this week between Christmas and New Years because all the baking and shopping and wrapping is done, most people are still off work, and you can just relax and do nothing. Woo! We’re enjoying spending this week at my home in Michigan, and I’m sure many of you are still visiting family or have family in-town visiting you. That’s why I thought it would be a perfect time for a post on hosting out-of-town company! I’ve seriously been wanting to write this post for the past couple of months, and being there’s only a few days left in 2011 I figure I better get to it! 
Over the past six months of living in Colorado, I’ve mentioned quite a few times on this blog that Cameron and I had a number of people come and visit us. We also had a fair amount of visitors during the year we lived in South Carolina as well, and we feel very fortunate that so many of our friends and family were able to come and visit us in our new (albeit temporary) homes. While it’s wonderful to have visitors, it can sometimes be a little stressful if it’s not something you’re used to doing, however it doesn’t have to be. With a little planning, you can make sure than any overnight guests feels comfortable and enjoys their stay with you.  I always want to make sure people feel welcome when they’re in our home, but sometimes that task can seem a little daunting if you’re in an apartment and low on space. So while I don’t claim to be the expert in entertaining, here are some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up over the last year and a half:

1. Create a restful night’s sleep
There’s nothing worse than staying over at someone’s house and not being able to get a good night’s sleep, so my first tip for hosting guests is make sure wherever they’re sleeping is comfortable. In our past three apartments, Cam and I have been lucky to have two bedrooms, however, our second bedroom is more of an office than a dedicated bedroom and we don’t have a second bed. Our solution to this situation was to get an Aerobed (this is the model we have), and it’s been a great investment. It fills up quickly, stays firm, and it was definitely worth the extra money over a cheaper inflatable mattress in opinion. Whether you’re putting your guests up in a true guest bedroom with a bed, on a pull-out couch, or on an air mattress, make sure you try it out first to make sure it’s not terrible. (Cam and I have slept on our Aerobed quite a few times during our moves, and we always thought it was comfy so I figured guests would think so too!) Also, make sure you have comfortable pillows for your guests as well!

2. Pick out pretty bedding
I think it helps to invest in some bedding that is only used for guests, because then even if you’re putting them on an air mattress, at least it looks pretty. They don’t have to be super pricey (my sheets and duvet are from Target!), but it’s just nice to have something special that is only used for guests versus a bunch of random blankets and sheets. I would suggest using a duvet cover versus a traditional comforter for your guest bedding, as it’s much easier to just take off the duvet cover and wash it after your guest leave instead of having everyone use the same comforter. I typically wash all my guest bedding as soon as my guests leave, and then put it all away in our closet until the next time we have visitors. I’d also suggest leaving an extra folded blanket or two in the room where your guests will be staying, that way they can make themselves comfortable in case they get chilly.

 3. Towels, towels, towels!
I think it’s also nice to have a dedicated set of towels that are only used for guests as well, and preferably something in a different color than the towels you normally use day to day. I personally would strongly suggest white for guest towels, that way you can bleach them between guests and you don’t have to worry about someone else’s face wash discoloring your towels. We have a set of gray towels that we currently use for guests, but I’m going to need to replace them soon because they’ve accumulated some orange streaks due to different people using them. And if someone who’s stayed with me is reading this, don’t think I’m trying to call you out on wrecking my towels–far from it! I myself use a face wash that has benzoyl peroxide (which is known to bleach fabrics) in it and I always worry about messing up someone’s towels when I’m staying with them. Also, make sure that you have a full towel set for each person, so bath towel, hand towel, and wash cloth.
4. Bathroom Basics
It’s important to anticipate your guests’ needs when getting you’re getting the bathroom ready for their arrival. Make sure you set out their stack of (clean white) towels, and let them know that they’re there for their use. Also, it’s important to let guests know where you’d like them to hang their towels when they’re done showering, because it’s always awkward to be at someone’s house and not have anywhere to put your towel. If you’re short on space (like in our apartment), they make 3M hooks specifically for the bathroom, and they’re great to put up on the back of a door providing the perfect spot for your guests to hang their towels. A wine rack mounted on the wall in the bathroom can also be a great way to
store guest towels, and then a depending on how much space you have in
your bathroom a coat rack can be a cute place for guests to hang towels when they’re done. Another key thing to do before guests come is make sure your bathroom is well-stocked. It’s a good idea to keep a few extra toothbrushes, contact cases, etc. on hand, and then it can be a nice touch to leave out some toiletries for your guests as well. A lot of times if I’ll be staying with close friends or family I won’t always pack a hairdryer, so make sure to see if they’ll need any other personal care items like that during their stay and show them where they’re located. And most importantly, make sure there is extra toilet paper in the bathroom in an easily accessible spot. There is nothing worse then going to the bathroom at someone else’s house, running out of TP, and then not knowing where the heck another roll is. Also, make sure there is a toilet brush and plunger next to the toilet, that way guests can handle potentially embarrassing situations themselves without having to ask you.


5. Eat, drink, and be merry! 
One important part of being a good hostess is making sure your guests are well-fed and free from thirst. It’s easy to forget sometimes when you’re in your own house, but make sure you ask your guests if they’d like anything to drink, especially after they first arrive. It’s a good idea to have a few different beverages for guests to choose from, and a Britta pitcher with cool water is always a good thing to have on hand. Showing the guests where the cups are located is also a good idea should they get thirsty, but it’s always good to check in periodically during their visit and see if they’d like anything to drink because sometimes people aren’t always comfortable going in your cupboards and getting themselves something! Also, I think that nothing says “Welcome!” like baking something for your guests. It makes the house smell fantastic and it lets them know that you’re excited for their visit. Some examples of things I’ve made for guests over the past few months include Apple Cream-Cheese Bundt Cake, Snickerdoodle Cake, and the BEST brownies. (These cookies would also be great option!) If you don’t have time to bake, at least have some sort of snack out when guests arrive, and be sure to have some snacks on hand as well. Everyone is different, and some people need to eat more frequently than others so be cognizant of that and check in with your guests regularly to see if they’re hungry. Also, it helps to have some type of snack sitting out and readily accessible as some people might feel awkward telling you they want a snack. It’s great to have a bowl of fruit sitting out in case guests want something to eat first thing in the morning, and make sure other munchies are readily accessible as well. Also, if you’re a person that doesn’t usually drink coffee in the AM, be sensitive to the fact that your guests might be craving a cup in the morning. Make sure you have things on hand to make a pot of coffee (a Keurig really comes in handy in a situation like this!) or at least offer to stop and get coffee if you’re all heading out together in the morning.

 So there you have them, my hospitality tips! I heard this proverb the other day and it made me chuckle…

“Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even though you wish
they were” 

Although sometimes it can be a little bit of work to have house guests, it’s definitely worth the effort because I think people truly appreciate when you open up your open to them. Entertaining friends and family is a beautiful thing, and makin them feel at ease in your home allows you create to all create great memories together. You never want to make your guests feel like they’re inconveniencing you, but rather show them the same kindness and courtesy that you’d like to be treated with.

I hope that you’re all having a fabulous week, Cam and I are having a wonderful time in Michigan! Every year since going away to college, my group of friends from high school gets together over Christmas break and goes out for a nice dinner, so that’s what we’ve got on the agenda tonight! It should be a great time as always and I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone! Xoxo