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12 Tips For Having House Guests

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by Photo via My Scandinavian Home

Sure, having friends and family come to visit from out of town can be a treat, but it can also be incredibly stressful if you aren’t fully prepared for house guests. Whether you are fortunate enough to have a vacant room dedicated to out-of-towners or are only able to offer an air mattress in a common area of your home, check out our list of helpful tips on being a gracious host, so you can enjoy their stay without tearing your hair out.

1. Create a comfortable space just for your guests.
It could be the couch in your living room, an air mattress on the floor, or the guest room down the hall. Whichever way you are able to accommodate your company you need to make sure they have a space that feels comfortable and clean. Prepare fresh linens ahead of time, whether it be changing sheets and making a bed, or placing just-washed bedding and pillows in a basket next to the couch. This will not only let them know exactly where they are sleeping, but also give them a sense of comfort. Make sure that there’s an outlet nearby and it’s a nice touch to have a small table next to their sleeping arrangements complete with a bedside carafe or a couple of bottles of water, incase they get thirsty. If you have kids running around (which most of us do) make sure you explain to them ahead of time that this is a special space just for your guests and that they need to be respectful of that.

2. Noise control.
Have early rising toddlers, babies that wake in the middle of the night, or live near a busy street or train tracks? Consider getting an inexpensive sound machine to help drown out the racket, and let them get a good night’s rest.

3. Give them the tour.
It’s important to show your visitors around your camp and to introduce them to things like which bathroom they will be using, how to easily get in and out (including giving them a house key if necessary), and how to make themselves at home during their stay. Make sure they know that the kitchen is stocked and free game, and that they shouldn’t be shy about grabbing a bite whenever they’re hungry. And, if you know they have a favorite brand of coffee, wine, or favorite snacks, it’s a nice gesture to pick some up for them.

4. Toiletries and towels.
Show your guests where they can find extra toilet paper, fresh towels, and washcloths when they arrive, or set some out if they have their own bathroom. It’s also nice to provide out-of-towners with their own toiletries. Shampoo and conditioner, body wash, lotion, and toothpaste are often things people leave behind, so it’s a nice gesture to offer these, just incase. It’s also a good idea to have a few disposable toothbrushes on hand. Another great tip: Keep all of those luxury samples you receive from the department store beauty counters in a little basket near the sink so they can choose what they need and feel a little pampered.

5. Passwords and things.
Leave a note with your wi-fi password and other information like security codes, Netflix and Hulu instructions, and notes on how to use the remotes (because we all know how complicated they can be).

6. Schedule, Smedule.
Of course, you may want to gallivant your visitors around town and take them to all of your favorite eats and attractions, but remember your guests are most likely on vacation, and probably want to relax. Make a few suggestions and let them decide how much, or how little, they want to do. Most importantly, give them plenty of time to just sit back and enjoy your company at home.

7. Don’t feel the need to entertain.
We often feel obligated to be the source of our new housemates’ entertainment. That can not only be exhausting, but also cause stress on you and your family. Remember you’re not running a hotel. Don’t be afraid to let your guests entertain themselves at times. Leave out some good reads and magazines like Dwell, The New Yorker, and Bon Appetit. If your city has a good guide book, provide one, and also create a list of nearby destinations incase they feel like getting out on their own for a bit. Think coffee shops, great restaurants, and scenic areas.

8. Transportation.
It’s a good idea to make sure your guests have some options when it comes to transportation, so they don’t feel like they need to always count on you as their chauffeur. If they didn’t get a rental car, offer them your ride when it’s not in need, or leave a list of locations in walking distance. You can also show them the closest public transportation or subway route, or offer them your bicycles to get to and from.

9. Plan a little at-home fun.
Choose one morning to make a big brunch, complete with mimosas or bloody marys. This will not only taste great, but will also save on your guests’ travel expenses. And, if you want to introduce your visitors to some of your friends, plan a simple dinner party or small backyard BBQ at your house.

10. Keep it tidy.
Make sure you keep the house somewhat picked-up during their stay, without fussing with their space. If your guests are slobs and want to keep their guest space a mess, let it be. The rest of the house, however, should be clean. Pick up after your kids, take out the trash, and clean the litter-box, if you have one. There is nothing worse than a stinky house.

11. Allow your guests to help.
If your out-of-towners offer to do the dishes after you’ve prepared dinner or would like to help pick up after a day of play, let them. They probably wouldn’t ask unless they wanted to contribute, and it’s a good way for them to show their gratitude.

12. Just relax and enjoy.
Don’t sweat the small stuff! Your guests are coming to see you and spend time with you. Enjoy it and don’t stress! You most likely don’t get to see these lovely faces that often.

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