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Make your overnight guests feel welcome during the holidays!

If you are expecting overnight company during the holidays, you may be wondering what special touches will make your home feel especially comfortable and welcoming for your guests.  Here is a checklist of steps you can take to ensure that your guests enjoy a lovely visit.

1.  Declutter

First and foremost, walk through the public spaces of your home (foyer, living room, den, dining room, kitchen) with the objective lens of an outsider and remove all extraneous objects.  Put all loose papers, magazines and other “roaming” objects where they belong, and if they do not already have a “home,” create one – or at least find a place to hide them until your company has gone. 

2.  Entry Way

Since the foyer is the first place your guests will see, you want to make a good impression.  If there is a table in your entry way, adorn it with a vase of fresh flowers.  Place a small rug or welcome mat at the door to protect your floor from water and mud – and put your guests at ease knowing they will not be trashing your floor when they come in from the weather.  And make sure there is space in the coat closet to hang your guests’ coats.

3.  Living Room and Den

Consider placing magazines of potential interest in a basket near the sitting area, as well as having puzzles and games easily accessible for entertainment during “down” time.  Leave coasters on the tables so guests can put down their glasses without worrying about water marks on your furniture.  Recognize that we are a “wired” society now – be ready to share your wifi password so that your guests will not suffer from technology withdrawal.  Have plenty of pillows and throws handy for cuddling up to watch a late night movie on a cold evening.  And remember – control the clutter!!

4.  Kitchen

The kitchen becomes the center of activity during the holidays, so think about setting up a work station away from your “command central” where guests can help with preparation tasks such as chopping vegetables, buttering the bread, carving the meat, etc.  You may want to have extra stools or chairs available so other guests can relax and visit with you as you prepare the meals. 

Make sure your guests know where the coffee pot, cups, sugar, etc. are located so they can easily help themselves in the morning.  Also point out where you keep glasses, drinks and snacks so that they will feel comfortable helping themselves rather than having to bother you every time they need something. 

5.  Guest Bedroom

If you do not have a designated guest room, give your guests a separate area of the house where they can have some privacy.  Have lamps on the bedside tables, both for reading and, if necessary, for getting up in the middle of the night.  Providing a fan is a nice touch not only for moving the air and controlling the temperature, but also for drowning out other noises in the house.  Make extra pillows and blankets available to ensure your guests will be warm and comfy.  Adding a vase of fresh flowers adds a touch of elegance. 

If possible, empty several drawers so that your guests can unpack their suitcases, or at the very least, provide a stool or suitcase stand for their bags.  Clear out space in the closet for hanging clothes, and be sure to leave a few empty hangers in the closet.

6.  Bathroom

Provide ample towels for each guest (some women like to use two – one for their hair and one for their body).  I suggest laying these out in the bathroom to ensure your guest does not get into the shower and then have to wander around the bedroom dripping water while s/he looks for a towel.  Sometimes I provide several different colored towels so that guests will not have trouble remembering which is their towel.  It is considerate to make toiletries available such as shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, shower cap, etc.  Remember to put a fresh bar of soap in the shower.  And point out where you keep the extra toilet paper to ensure that your guests do not find themselves in an unpleasant predicament.

7. Nightlights

Remember, your guests are not as familiar with the layout of your home as you are, so provide night lights for the bathroom and halls, or if your hall lights can be dimmed, leave them on low overnight. 

8.  Activities

Much as your guests may enjoy hanging out and catching up with you and your family, depending on their length of stay, they (or you) may start going stir crazy if you do nothing but sit around the house – so plan several options of activities or outings that your guests may enjoy doing to get out of the house. 

9.  Meals

Plan ahead.  Shop ahead.  Cook ahead.  Delegate!  (And see my previous blog re preparing for the holiday meal!)

10.  Relax and Enjoy

If you have followed all these tips, your guest will be comfortable and impressed.  So sit back and relax and enjoy your company!