The holidays beckon us to have guests spend a night or more in our homes and while this may bring stress into our lives, our guests are more likely concerned than we are. Below are 5 of the Worst Fears of House Guests and what you can do to immediately put them at ease when they arrive.
It is one thing to visit someone’s home for an evening, but once you bring along that suitcase you are walking into their private lives and that is when the awkward and uncomfortable feelings can start.
For your part as the hostess, you are the one to make them feel at ease. From the moment they step into your home, your smile, hug and welcoming words can go a long way in making them not feel like they are imposing.
Take their luggage, any outerwear and ask them to follow you to their room. From the moment you bring them into THEIR room, they will start to sense your hospitality. If it is a child’s room and you have not attempted to add some items to make them feel at home, they will sense that perhaps a hotel would have been a better idea.
Show them the bed. Point out where they can put their clothes. Again, hopefully you cleared a spot in the closet and a drawer in a chest.
Show them where the bathroom is and tell them who will be using it. When possible make the bathroom private for them alone.
Give them some info that they may need…do you use a security system, is it armed at night, if so what if they need to go outside? What is the password and network for your internet access.
Explain a very general schedule to them, like we will be eating at 7, so if you need a nap or to do some work, feel free to come down when ever you are ready. If you have not already asked them, find out if there are any food allergies so you can quickly incorporate that into the evening meal.
I love to give them a door hanger just as you would have in a hotel. That way if the door is closed and they wish not to be disturbed, it is right there on the door and will be respected.
As a guest, they know they are not part of the family, the routine, they don’t know bedtimes, rising times, where the glasses are and so much more.
Give them a quick tour whatever room you are in and show them how to use the remote, where the glasses are, and trash.
Include them in the activities. They may offer to help and even if you don’t like people helping (that’s me) try to come up with something for them to do so they don’t have to just feel like they don’t belong. If you are in the kitchen, give them an apron and have them start chopping something for you.
Avoid conversations that are not inclusive. Don’t spend the evening talking about something this person is not involved in or can’t identify with. Unless you go to the same church or are very clear on your guest’s political views, don’t go there! If they do, change the subject gently.
Always give an overview of the next thing on the agenda. If you are going to bed, let them know and tell them to enjoy what they are doing as long as they like. Then let them know what time you will be getting up in the morning. The worse thing in the world is to be wide awake in bed and afraid to get about the day because you don’t want to wake anyone.
Ask them if there is anything you can get for them or that they need. Maybe they forgot something and they are worried to death about not having it. Perhaps they have a headache and don’t have anything to take for it.
I am a big fan of having lots of options for your guests when it comes to food.
I remember being a little girl and staying at relative’s homes without my parents and being hungry and not knowing when I will get to eat again and will I even like it. It really sort of scared me.
Leave a basket of snacks in their room. This is especially important if you know they are diabetic or have another dietary related medical condition. A bowl of fruit with napkins and a knife, some granola bars, some chocolate and nuts will all serve to keep someone from feeling uncomfortable about having enough to eat. If you are really awesome, take them some warm cookies at bedtime!
Set Food out in the kitchen. We keep the little boxes of cereal in a basket, bags of snack chips, popcorn and snack bars along with fruit. There are bowls and utensils there as well.
Keep a beverage bar and coffee bar out and well stocked. If you know they enjoy wine, leave a bottle, an opener and a glass in their room with some crackers and grapes and cheese.
Have meals scheduled so they know when they will get to eat. You can just put it on a chalk board in the kitchen or leave them a note with their welcome basket.
Serve food they love. Ask ahead of time and prepare meals according to what they love and what is nourishing.
Serve enough food. If you barely have enough for one serving, again it can be scary. It doesn’t make complete sense, but make enough to ensure leftovers so your guest does not feel like they are breaking your budget or taking the last bite. They are less likely to eat what they want if they think there is not enough food and may go away from the table feeling unsatisfied.
Don’t keep your guests up too late. They may have had a long day or they may just want some private time and will feel compelled to stay if you just keep talking and engaging them in conversation.
If possible offer a few sleep items that we often need.
- an alarm clock
- a sound machine or cd player
- a television in their room and some movies
- an eye mask
- a robe and slippers
- fan in case they need the temperature cooler, an extra blanket in case they are cold
Leave some reading and writing material for them. I like to have some magazines that are of particular interest to my guests so they know I was truly thinking of them. A sudoku book or crosswords book is also a great way to unwind.
Have beverages in the room. If possible, a dorm fridge makes a great place for some waters and soda or perrier. If not, leave some beverages, glasses and a filled ice bucket in the room.
Remind them of the morning schedule, the bathroom, that they can help themselves to coffee or anything in the morning if they get up before the rest of the family.
Assure them that if they need a thing you are just down the hall and don’t be afraid to ask…or even text you. Hang that door hanger out and shut the door behind you if you are saying “good night.”
Don’t disturb them. They will come out when they are ready to meet the world.
Bathrooms are a very personal place and whenever possible you should offer them a private bath.
Clean and Sparkly should be the standard. Bathrooms are filled with germs and your guest will not feel comfortable in a room with dried spots on the toilet or sink.
Put away all personal items of whoever uses that bath. They do not want to see your toothbrush, your jewelry or your kids trash. It should look like a hotel. Clear counters and fresh fluffy towels.
A set of clean towels tied with a ribbon makes it clear this is for their use.
A basket of small items like shampoos, soaps, razors, etc can make them really feel welcome.
A hair dryer, curling iron, comb and clean brush will also be appreciated.
A drawer with facial wipes, cotton balls, acetone and a nail file is kind.
Include small bottles of Advil, Alieve, Execerin, Bandaids, and Sunscreen.
A rug or floor towel will ensure safety when exiting the shower or tub.
Extra toilet paper in an easily accessible place as well as toilet bowl brush and cleaner in case they feel a need to clean up after themselves.
If your guests are staying more than one night, be sure to let them know you want to freshen up their rooms before entering and then grab any used towels, replace with new and empty the trash. Most guests will make their own bed, but if they don’t, do it for them and then turn down the corner so you aren’t making it seem as though you are scolding them for not making it but that you just wanted to freshen it up for them.
I love hostessing and these steps will definitely put your guests at ease but if you really want to make them feel welcome, well here are a few more things I love to do.
- Have a bouquet of flowers in their room. If you know their favorite flower or you can cut them from your own garden, all the better.
- Place a candle and matches in the room that has a fragrance of the season.
- Make sure there is a way to play some music whether a CD player, blue tooth speaker, something. Then have a play list or some CD selections for them.
- If there is a television with a DVD player, have some movies you think they may like.
- A robe and slippers over the bed.
- A welcome note handwritten by you.
- A photograph framed of a time you shared together.
- Beverages, snacks, small coffee maker
- Bath salts, lotion and other spa like items
- Books and magazines they may enjoy
- Paper and Pen
- An area map and areas of interest they may wish to visit
These are a few of my favorite ways to make my guests feel at home in my house.
Please keep in mind this list does not say it all. Some guests may fear your pets, have concerns over your cleanliness, may have special needs they do not wish to share that increase their discomfort. Keep all things in mind as you have people share your home and try to pick up on their cues and respond quickly.
It is such a joy to nurture a relationship by spending time together longer than a meal. I hope this helps you put your overnight guests at ease and lets you enjoy their visit!