Be our guest (minus the creepy castle vibes)
It’s no secret that I love entertaining and having our friends come to stay. Fortunately since moving out of Sydney earlier this year we have had nearly all of our closest friends stop by for a weekend getaway which has been lovely! These days, hubby and I have a system for getting the house ready for guests, but rest assured it took some time to develop.
When guests come to stay you want to show off your little (or large!) home and also ensure that you still have your own space and can relax without tripping over each other and getting in each others pockets. A morning spent preparing can make the whole experience an amazing one for all involved.
From hosting dozens of guests over the years, here are my tips on what to do when hosting for the first time.
Put together a draft itinerary
Okay, so this has nothing to do with the home, but I think it has been the most important when having guests come to stay. Hubby and I chat about options and activities for our guests and then make sure we are clear on what we are doing so that it is not only a good experience for the guests, but we are also clear on logistics like transport and timings. Having an options ready for guests is MUCH easier than cobbling together ideas at the last minute. When planning activities, we also consider costs and level of physical activity as we always like to have a mix of different options for our guests to choose.
If we are unsure about what our guests may like to do, or perhaps there may be a preference we are not aware of, we put together 2-3 options that would work. For us, planning the itinerary is simply a verbal conversation and we are flexible to change. If our guests are tired and just want to chill at home after a busy morning, we quickly change plans to accommodate what they want. We want our guests to feel like they are on holidays – rather than there to entertain us.
Over the years we have also learned what works well in our local areas and what doesn’t which allows us to tweak itineraries moving forward for future guests.
A considered conversation with your partner about what activities you will do with your guests means that your guests don’t feel responsible for having a good time and you can easily navigate the day or days for them.
If our guests are staying but just doing their own thing, we still let them know our movements for the day. This means that they can better plan their days as well. If our guests know we will be out all day, they can have a nap or potter around the house and have some alone time. Being a guest sometimes feels like you always have to be ‘on’ so downtime by yourself (especially for us introverts!) is always appreciated.
Tip: before you go to bed, agree what time you will get up. This will save both you or your guests waiting around for potentially hours as you wait for the other party to get up. If your guests want to sleep into 11am, but you usually get up at 7am, this means you can still get up early and fit in some activities before your guests rise. Also you won’t be waiting around endlessly for breakfast!
Clean the house and tuck away your crap
This may sound obvious, but having a clean home shows pride in taking care of you home and will create an instant feeling in your guests that you care. In particular, take time to clean the floors, toilets and bathroom vanities.
In main living areas, tucking away newspapers/magazines and bench space will make it easier for everyone. This will show you have made an effort to allow space for your guests rather than assuming they will move it themselves. It’s your stuff – they don’t know where to put it! There is nothing worse than trying to do your makeup when the sink is full of the hosts toiletries. Make a little space for your guests so they can easily get ready in your home.
After all, a clean house for your guests also means a clean house for you. Win!
Sort out the linens, towels, blankets
For our guests, we use a separate set of linens. This means that the guest linens do not get used as often and we are not scrambling to find a towel for them. Investing in a guest set of linens, bed sheets as well as towels, is a worthwhile one if you plan to have guests over regularly.
If you can, make the beds ahead of time, even if it’s a fold away bed. Allowing your guest to flop down for a nap if they want when they arrive is a lovely gesture. If the beds are to be assembled in a main living area and you don’t really want to set it up until bedtime, have mattresses and bed linen handy nearby so when your guests want to go to bed, it’s already there for them. This will save rummaging through the linen closet at 11pm wondering what sheet is the Double bed sheet!
Pop their towels on the bed. Putting out towels on their beds means that your guests don’t have to ask you for one and jump in the shower – particularly if you’re not there. Hunting around in someone else’s linen cupboard trying to guess what you can (or can’t) use is no fun!
If the nights are chilly, put out more than enough blankets for your guests. They will only realise they need more blankets when you have already toddled off to bed or when they wake in the middle of the night. If in doubt, just put out an extra one.
Tip: as we get older, hubby and I always tell guests if they would like to bring their own pillows we are 100% okay with it. Having your own pillow can save your neck and shoulders when you are sleeping in a different bed! Yes, we are all getting older!
Show guests around the house
When your guests arrive, running them through your house will help them get their bearings and know where everything is. You don’t have to show them the master bedroom or your home office, but you can simply point out where it is. Pointing out bathrooms, where they can put their bags, where they will be sleeping and showering, and also water glasses/coffee/tea in the kitchen (yes!) are a lovely way to welcome them to your home.
If you are giving them a set of keys, show them specifically how to lock up the house and if there are any ways to accidentally lock yourself out or in! It may sound unnecessary, but can save a lot of stress when that pesky front door won’t lock!
Show guest how to adjust the temperature in their room
Whether its a fan or using the remote for the air-con, taking the time to show your guests in detail of how to adjust the temperature in their room will save the tired and grumpy “we couldn’t figure it out” conversation over breakfast the next day. Make sure your guests know how to adjust the temperature of the room as not only is it a lovely gesture, but can also make the difference between a good or a bad night’s sleep. Show them how to use the remote controls, open windows if they are tricky, or set up a fan or heater otherwise. Everyone has their own prefered room temperature when they sleep, so run them through the options and they can choose what they like. Although most heating and cooling systems are straightforward, taking the initiative to point out the options will save them the hassle of guessing and having to press all the buttons to figure it out for themselves!
Add small, practical touches
Doesn’t everyone lie in bed checking out Facebook? Set up power boards or sockets nearby so guests can easily charge their phones. Having a double adaptor is always appreciated! Although you may not always be able to have power sources on both sides of the beds, ensuring there are enough sockets for phones and to plug in the bedside lamp on is helpful.
When guests arrive check in with them if they would like to use your Wifi. I put out Wifi Passwords cards (you can buy them soon on here!) which is a lovely little touch and a bit of art for the room.
For out guests, we currently don’t have a proper bed and so we plonk down these amazingly comfy IKEA mattresses on the study floor. I also pop a small side lamp out so guests can turn off the big ceiling light and just use the side light. It’s a small creature comfort, but makes turning the light on in the night much easier.
For night lights I simply use fairy lights. They don’t get hot and are a subtle light. I leave the fairy lights on in the main living area so if the guests need anything in the night they can easily walk around to find it without flicking on every other light. Think ahead in terms of what they may need and help them out. Having a night light on won’t affect you much, but being woken up by guests trying to find a glass of water may!