Festivities such as weddings, holidays and graduations frequently include overnight guests from out of town, and all too often we find ourselves scrambling at the last minute to clean the house and search for extra pillows in the midst of the existing chaos of preparing for the event itself. With the holidays fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start laying the groundwork for anticipated visitors by taking some or all of these steps:
- Establish a regular cleaning schedule that you can easily maintain year-round. There will be fewer dust bunnies to chase away from under the bed before your guests arrive if you are keeping up on a regular basis.
- Flip the room in your hotel. If you have a designated guest room, change the sheets on the bed immediately after guests leave so that it is ready for the next arrival...ditto for towels in the guest bathroom.You'll be ready for even unexpected guests this way.
- Determine the sleeping arrangements in advance. Nothing makes guests feel less welcome than a sense that they are intruding on you. Do not make assumptions about where or with whom they wish to sleep, either. Get any awkward conversations about their preferences out of the way before they arrive so that there are no unpleasant surprises. Having the bed/s made up ahead of time, whenever possible, will make them feel more welcome, even if they are just sleeping on an air mattress in the basement.
- Acquire extra bedding well ahead of time. Round up pillows, blankets, sheets, towels, and/or air mattresses and store them somewhere easily accessible. Ideally, you want to keep these somewhere that anyone in the family can find them. This will enable you to delegate set up responsibilities in the event that your other host/hostess duties make it difficult for you to do that yourself. If you don't own these items and don't have the budget/space to buy/store them, borrow them from a friend or neighbor in advance, or you can even request that your guests bring their own.
- Stock up on basic essentials. Keep a supply of extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo on hand for guests to use. Show/tell them where to find it so they don't have to go riflng through your medicine cabinet if they forgot to bring their own. (My grandparents loved to tell the story of the house guest who got a bit of a shock when he mistook their Ben-Gay for toothpaste in the medicine cabinet...ouch!)
- Ask about any special dietary needs/ preferences ahead of time and plan/prepare meals in advance. Cooking in advance will minimize the amount of time you have to spend in the kitchen so that you can focus on the visit. Consider eating or ordering out one night to take the stress out of having to feed everyone and eliminate the chore of cleaning up. Just make sure you budget for it.
- Avoid hosting extra gatherings. Unless your guests are in town for a specific pre-planned event, resist the temptation to have other people over while they are here. If this cannot be avoided, keep itsuper simple (coffee and dessert or a pot luck) to avoid adding to your existing host duties and related stress..
- Keep kids in their routines as much as possible.It can be a real challenge to get Jimmy and Jane into bed when Aunt Mary is around to play with, but the stability of a routine will make it much easier for them to transition back after Aunt Mary returns home to Seattle.
- Understand each others' expectations and keep the lines of communication open. Living with someone requires compromise, even if it's just for a few days. Don't assume that your guests do things the same way in their house. They may have different holiday traditions that they wish to honor. They may be neater/tidier than you, go to bed or rise later/earlier than you, or require more/less time in the bathroom than you. If an issue arises, talk it out calmly and try to keep it in perspective. Remember, they won't be staying forever!