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tips for hosting overnight guests

Wonderful! Your parents are finally coming! You want everything to be perfect so they will come again. 

By far the most precious thing you can give overnight guests is privacy. It's so awkward to be a guest; you feel on display, like you have no control over your situation. Provide a little sanctuary for your overnight guests. Offer them a retreat where they can go and regroup.

These tips for hosting overnight guest will help ensure they feel at home in your home.

provide privacy for your overnight guests.

If you don't have a spare bedroom, kick one of the kids out of his or her room for the visit. (You can make it up to him later.) Overnight guests need a quiet refuge, especially older people who aren't used to being around rambunctious youngsters. (At least, not anymore.)

Here are the basics to equip a comfy, cozy room:

  • Freshly made bed. Consider using only a fitted sheet topped by a comforter, especially if your guest has limited use of his hands (such as arthritis causes.) The comforter or duvet (a removable, washable comforter cover) replaces the bedspread and top sheet. As an added guest bonus, it's a cinch to make - just fluff and go.
  • Pillows. Foam or down? Ask their preference.
  • Extra blankets. On my father's occasional overnight visits, I got into the habit of equipping the designated guest room with at least two extra throw blankets. He never again asked me whether I had the heat "hooked up" or if I felt cold.
  • Dresser. Clear out a couple of drawers so your overnight guests can unpack and get rid of their suitcases.
  • Bedside table and light. Make sure the table is close to the bed so your guests can read before drifting off. A good rule of thumb: The base of the shade should be at shoulder level while sitting up in bed. No bedside table handy? A spare chair will do in a pinch. Just set a light on it, and your guest can hang her necklaces or robe on the back.
  • Tissues. Allergies, colds, whatever the cause, make sure you have the solution.
  • Closet. Make room to hang stuff. Filled to the brim? Relocate some stuff for the weekend or week so that your guests can have things the way they like them. Stock the closet with hangers.

extras to consider providing for your overnight guests.

These lovely amenities are simply icing on the cake. These aren't essential - but providing them might get you back in the will.

Tips for hosting overnight guests.Fresh flowers are an extra welcoming treat for overnight guests.
  • Vase of flowers. If you can cull them from your garden, all the better!
  • Bedside water carafe. This can be one of those fancy carafes with a glass that fits on top or simply an individual-size bottled water.
  • Lint brush. This is especially considerate if you have pets.
  • Laundry bag. This way they can do their own laundry if they choose.
  • Basket of food. Fruit, cookies, crackers, tea and coffee are thoughtful provisions.
  • Basket, bowl or other empty decorative container. To provide your overnight guests a visible place for keys, jewelry, and other essentials.

outfitting the bathroom for overnight guests.

If there is any way to give your overnight guests their own bathroom, do it. No one likes sharing bathrooms with people outside the immediate family.

Yeah, you love Uncle Scott - but do you really want to negotiate around his shaving supplies? Stock the guest bath with:

  • Towels
  • Wash cloths
  • Soaps
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Cups
  • Hand lotion
  • Disposable razor
  • Hair spray

ask your guests about food preferences and allergies.

Ask your overnight guests about food allergies, dislikes, and dietary restrictions. Buy snacks that they can help themselves to between meals. And cook ahead so you can spend time with your guests.

provide the 411 on pets in your home.

How could anyone not love Fluffy? And Bruiser, who wouldn't hurt a fly? Tell that to Grandpa who sneezes when you say "cat". Or to Aunt Alice who's terrified of anything on four legs.

Yes, this is your pet's home. But they have to make compromises, too.

Warn guests that you have a boa constrictor. They may decide that the nearest Embassy Suites would work better. If not, well, they were warned.

That said, keep pets confined during a guest's visit as much as possible.

Dogs can get a bit territorial when strangers are wandering around the house in the dark. And you don't want cousin Flora to be afraid to go to the bathroom at night.

keep overnight guests informed of the family schedule.

Knowledge is power. Make a list of any planned activities for your guests. Also give them brochures on activities in your area, and a list of restaurants.

Tips for hosting overnight guests.Provide overnight guests with a list of local restaurants in advance and find out which they'd like to visit.

Ask them to look the information over and let you know what they'd like to do during their stay.

And while you're at it, jot down your family's daily routine. What time do you usually get up for breakfast? Is it a serve yourself affair? When is lunch and dinner?

When do the kids usually take a nap? Do you take afternoon walks? What time do you usually go to bed?

Make it clear they can adopt any routine they like, but at least they know what the rest of the family is up to. There's nothing worse for a guest than sitting in your room wondering what the day holds in store for you. You want guest, not a prisoner.

let freedom reign.

Finally, give them their freedom. If you have a second car, let them poke around by themselves if they feel up to it. Give them a key to the house so they can go for a walk and get back inside.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for products and tools you need to make your guest bedroom warm and welcoming.

Related Pages

› Helping Overnight Guests Feel at Home


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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.