Are you hosting a houseguest this summer? Kate here, and today’s post is dedicated to the art of welcoming friends and family members. Some of the best resources for hosting guests are written with the assumption that there’s a spare bedroom and ample funds to make their stay unforgettable. As a person who lived in a tiny apartment for years, I know firsthand what it’s like to sleep on the couch so a guest can have the bed, as well as the challenges of hosting on a budget. These are realities for many of us. In fact, even though I now live in a house, our spare room flooded this summer–right before two guests came for separate visits. Go figure! Whether your guests have a private wing or you’re having to shuffle a bit to welcome them in style, today’s post is for you. Read on for helpful tips for hassle-free hosting… [image below by Özgür Donmaz via NPR.org]
Let’s talk about the different types of company that may be visiting your home. For starters, there’s the guest who knows many people in town, enjoys exploring the area independently, and/or is in town for a conference, a wedding or another event that will leave you with some free time during his or her stay. Then there’s the guest who is coming to town simply to visit you, which is lovely, but a bit more time consuming on your part. Your energy level during your guest’s stay will depend on the type of trip he or she is looking to enjoy. Which brings us to the first tip:
Be honest with yourself about the time and energy you will have while your guest is visiting.
If you are this person’s chauffeur and main source of entertainment, this may not be the weekend to host an elaborate gathering in your guest’s honor or plan an action-packed hourly schedule. You’re going to be “driving the boat” all weekend, so to speak. You may not feel like whipping up dinner for 10 after a day of touring the city. Then again, if your guest has his or her own transportation and an independent schedule, you may find yourself with some free time during the visit. A fete in your guest’s honor may be very doable! [image above from “Julie and Julia” via Pickering Chinese Food Restaurant, image below from Home with The Lost Italian]
Also consider your personality. I have to say…I’m a bit of an introvert! I love visiting with my friends and family members, but to be at my best, I need some time alone each day. When I’m hosting a guest and simultaneously planning a fun schedule for the entire weekend, I keep it simple and prepare a few grab-and-go snacks (like sliced fruit) to have on hand in the fridge, then pick up main dishes or eat out. It’s how I preserve my energy so that I can be the best host possible! Here’s another helpful tip: [image below from Lark & Linen]
You can host a fabulous visit regardless of your budget or the size of your home.
It’s true! The key is to be upfront with your guest. For example, earlier this summer when my spare room flooded, I let my guest know exactly what she would be walking into. That way, the air mattress in the office wasn’t a slap in the face when she arrived. Even in the least ideal of circumstances, there are still things you can do to make the visit a pleasant one, such as embellishing a low table with a vase of fresh flowers, or placing some magazines and chocolates by the bed (or air mattress, or couch). We’ll talk more about that later. Ready for another tip? [image below from Amy Lau Design]
Begin getting ready for your guest a few days ahead of time.
Yes, even if you work full time, there are some quick things you can do each day so you’re not up until 2AM the night before your guest arrives. And that brings us to the rest of the post, which will focus on some simple tasks you can complete as your guest’s arrival approaches! [image below from Pottery Barn]
Preparing in Advance
Your guest will be here in just a few days, and you have a million things to do! Where do you start?! I’ll share a little schedule that has worked for me as I’ve repeatedly welcomed out-of-town company. Feel free to shuffle the tasks around to better fit your schedule. [image from Tobi Fairley Interior Design]
2-3 days before the visit:
- Call or email your guest and double check basics such as flight information and food preferences or allergies.
- Wash guest sheets and towels, prepare the guest bed (or fold and store sheets for easy access when it’s time to outfit the couch)
- Set out welcoming touches, such as magazines, chocolates and fresh flowers
- Stock the bathroom with extra supplies (such as bath tissue) so your guest doesn’t have to ask for refills
- Tidy up the yard, removing unsightly weeds or dead plants
- Head to the grocery store and stock up on essentials for the visit, such as wine, snacks and breakfast food items
The day before the visit:
- Vacuum and dust, wipe down countertops
- Clean the bathrooms
- Slice fresh fruits and veggies, make a pitcher of tea, and prepare simple snacks in advance for grab-and-go ease
- Do a load of laundry to ensure you have the clothing YOU need at the ready for a few days of carefree style
The day of the visit:
- Do one more load of last-minute laundry if necessary
- Do a basic tidying up, including one last cleaning of bathroom countertops
- Confirm restaurant reservations or finalize schedule plans
On Taking Care of Yourself…
But this post is all about welcoming guests, right?! Indeed! But to be the best host you can be, you might need to set aside a little time for yourself once your guest arrives. If you burn out easily when it comes to company, it never hurts to think ahead about how you can make the visit a pleasant one. [image from A Prime Year in Pictures]
For example, I’m often rejuvenated by a little bit of alone time reading a new book or magazine before bed. It’s not a big thing, but it makes a big difference! No matter how busy the day is, I can count on some down time at the end of it. [from Schwartz and Architecture]
Also, don’t hesitate to employ some creative solutions if needed. For example, one of my best friends visited me a few times a year when I lived in my efficiency. She is a very light sleeper, so she wakes up multiple times throughout the night. Add the fact that I’m a light sleeper when company is over, and we eventually found that neither one of us was sleeping well during her visits. [from Normal Projects]
During one trip, I went to sleep at my parents’ house the last night she was in town so she could have the place to herself. And thus began a tradition–when I went to visit her, she would stay with her sister, giving me her little place for the night. And vice versa! It was an understanding we reached so we could get a good night’s sleep at the end of our day together, and it was fun for the visiting friend to get a place to herself! Call it an impromptu B & B! [image from Rikki Snyder Photography]
I hope today’s post has been helpful. The goal was to take a practical look at the art of hosting on any budget, and to explore ways to make life comfortable for your guests AND for you during the hosting process. If you’re interested in some other tips and tidbits regarding hosting etiquette, I’ve found this article to be very helpful. Thanks for reading! [image below from Linens ‘n Things]
And when it’s your turn to be the guest, make sure you check out my post on fabulous hostess gift ideas!