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Hostess with the Mostess: the Overnight Guest

August 23, 2011

Burlap Bienvenue pillow by Samantha

A couple of weeks ago while in Ponchatoula for Pop’s funeral, my cousin and faithful commenter Jan and I had a discussion about how to be a great hostess, for both overnight guests and folks who just stop in for an afternoon visit. I referenced the preparation I did for the weekend stay of 15 of our closest friends, but that was epic prep. She wanted to know what tips I had for just a few weekend visitors, even family members who will love us despite our lack of hosting skills.

I tried to rattle off some things I like to do for our guests, but I realized it was more than I thought. It turned into a lively — and educating — convo, and I thought you also might like to see what we talked about. (I’m sure Jan will comment on more ideas!)

  • I like to provide lots of towels and pillows. Some people are super persnickety about pillows and towels, so the bigger the variety, the more comfortable your guests are.
  • My mom commented once that I didn’t have a mirror or a trashcan in the bedroom. I fixed this immediately.
  • Jan suggested bottled water and even a few snacks. I loooove the bottled water idea, especially if the bedroom is located a far distance from the kitchen.
  • I love fresh flowers, even in a Mason jar or small vase. It adds just a little bit to the feel of the room.
  • Extra blankets, regardless of the season. We like it cold at night, but some people don’t. Blankets are the compromise.
  • The bathroom should be stacked with convenience toiletry items, in case your guest forgets her toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, razor (!!), dental floss, powder, lotion, bobby pins and hair ties.
  • My friend Mary has a closet of all necessities very close to the bathroom, where there is a box just for medicine. Perfect for when you don’t want to reveal to your host that their dinner gave you indigestion, there’s Pepto Bismal (and other medicine) nearby to remedy the ailment discretely. (Don’t worry, Mary. I love your chili!)
  • A few books or magazines are fun to have on the nightstand, waiting for your guest. Jan likes getting the most recent “Us Weekly,” and I have a few books of short stories in my upstairs guest room.
  • A place to put a suitcase… a chair or small table would be just fine.
  • Pictures! This might sound weird, but photographs and other personal art make the guest feel welcomed, included, and warm. Bare, generic walls are for the Holiday Inn!
  • Kleenex! This was another one of my mom’s requests, and it’s a simple but nice touch.

These are just some things that I do (and not all of them happen for every guest… just when I’m feeling super energetic). Also, don’t think I expect these things when I come to visit (my hope is to not be black-listed from home visits). But, these are just some things I’ve learned along the way after hosting in our home in the seven years of marriage.

Do you have more ideas? Please share!

Check back later on this week… I’ll have more ideas for food and other pop-in-during-the-afternoon visit suggestions.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Stu permalink
    August 23, 2011 1:24 pm

    I think if you’re hosting anyone named JD, you should make sure there’s always a good pale ale and three freshly-cooked strips of bacon in his room. For example.

  2. Kim permalink
    August 23, 2011 9:20 pm

    and if you’re hosting your mom, for example, a plain Hershey’s chocolate bar on my, uh, her pillow would be great. If you’re hosting a dad, Hershey’s dark chocolate with almonds is a must for fathers.

  3. Jan permalink
    August 25, 2011 4:56 pm

    -I also make sure each bathroom has mostly full bottles of shampoo & conditioner. (smell check the conditioner – it can go bad) Simple cheap brand like Suave is ok – Too pricy to keep Aveda or the like.
    -I have fresh disposable razors (both boy & girl kind)
    – New tooth brushes – (you’d be surprised how many people leave it behind…. it was new – keep it!
    – Liquid soap for girls and bar soap for boys (white bar) in the shower
    – blow dryer in each bathroom
    – 2 Robe hooks in each bathroom. (people never know where to drop or not to drop their towels)
    – If you have the space, having empty drawers available to unpack is awesome!!!
    – Several empty hangers in the closet
    – a plunger – to avoid embarrassing moments
    – I’ve also filled snack sized zip locks with trail mix (both salt and sweet) with a little welcome tag for those late night munchies.

    I also leave some of Lauren’s artwork on the bed as a sort of ‘welcome card’. Lauren likes to come in and do inventory “that’s Mom’s , that’s Ashley’s, that’s Lauren’s, that’s Nana’s…”

    Even though we have a queen bed in each room, I’m sure to let my guests know, if you need to stretch out and the bed gets tight for both of you, feel free to use both rooms.
    Also, I let them know the quirks about the thermostat upstairs so they feel comfortable making personal adjustments.

    I like that you mentioned medicine. Pepto comes in single serving packs!!!
    Also, with the pictures, I actually will trade out the ones depending on who’s coming. When it’s my mother, there are all her grandchildren… When it’s Greg’s… it’s their grand kids.
    I don’t do like my father and put 8×10’s in the guest bathroom of him and that woman he’s currently married to. That’s just obnoxious.

    Love ya!

  4. Jan permalink
    August 25, 2011 5:06 pm

    oh, on the latest visit from … well, I realized I need to just put a small clothes basket in each room for them to toss their wet rags. Don’t assume a guest with OCD is also tidy!!!!

    Call ahead and ask what their favorite soda, liquor, mixer, snack, chip, milk or Soy preference is. When they say “anything is fine” push for the truth. Anything is not fine for some people!!!

    I found the need to announce how I like to run my kitchen. I was over-run by the in-laws who just tried to turn my home into the chaos of theirs. It spun me around like crazy! So, next time I’ll simply say “dinner is ready. I’ve got everything here for you to dish what you’d like onto your plate and bring to the table. Tell Greg what you’d like to drink and he’ll get it for you. I’m going to get Lauren’s plate ready while you all are getting yours together. I’ll be at the table quickly to join you.”

    Nevermind why I was speaking to the room like one filled with kindergarteners. But the night prior took me 3 days to shake emotionally!

  5. Stu permalink
    August 26, 2011 8:20 am

    I am completely overwhelmed and intimidated by your list, Jan. Your open invitation to Nashville is hereby revoked.

  6. Jan permalink
    August 26, 2011 12:03 pm

    Gosh, most of these are things you can set up once and done!
    …. I’ll bring beer and bacon!


  1. Hostess with the Mostess: the Impromptu Visitor « Kate Schmate

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