C’mon Over! Having House Guests At La Maison

 “Fish and house guests stink after three days.”

I must be feeling a bit proverbial today, because that phrase was the first thing to pop into my head when I thought of guests.

Of course, I think the saying has more to do with the fact that any long-term company in our homes tends to disrupt our routine and make us cranky.  Therefore, it is best to do all you can to preserve calm and make your home a welcoming place to guests.

Here are some things I like to do to make guests feel special (and preserve my own sanity):

  • Create a mood and vibe to your home

This first tip is as much for the host as for the guest – I like to have my house sparkling and some soft lights on or music playing when my guests arrive.  In all likelihood, your guests have had to endure the bustle of airports and train stations, or the monotony of a long car ride to reach your home, and appreciate a moment to breathe and relax.

As the host or hostess, you probably have been frantically cleaning, planning, and doing errands to prepare your home for company, and setting the right mood can do wonders to calm everyone down for a great visit.

  • Give guests space

Of course, it’s nice to see Great-Aunt Mildred and Cousin Tommy, but give your guests a chance to unwind and refresh themselves before settling in together.  As you show your house guest to their room (or couch, whatever), be sure to point out the restroom, the closet, and any spaces you have made available for them to store their personal items.

I always make a point of clearing space in my guest room closet for my house guests, and tidying up drawers and shelves they may want to use.  I also make a spot in the front of my refrigerator for their food items, which brings me to my next tip…

  • Stock up on essentials and favorites

I often take a survey of my guests to find out the things they like to eat and drink before they come to town.  Then I use the information to plan any meals at home in advance of the visit, to cut down on stress.  Be sure to inquire about dietary restrictions and allergies – to food, drink, and household items.

When I am running my errands, I stock up on their favorite food items and my home essentials: bath and facial tissue, soap, razors, potpourri, cleaning products, bath towels, sheets, and pillows.

I like to put any items bought for my guests to use in a nice display in their room or in the bathroom they will use, depending on the item.  Personal hygiene items, like towels and toiletries can be displayed in the bathroom or in a container on the counter.  Personal items like books, magazines, candies, and an alarm clock can find a place on the bedside table or dresser.

Is the guest going to be staying on your couch or sharing your bathroom? 

When the guest arrives, hand them a small basket or bag filled with items for their use.  You can attach a tag with the guest’s name, and they can keep the basket among their things or hang the bag on a nearby doorknob.

  • Give yourself a break

Sure, you have a house guest, but you also have a life.  I try to plan ahead as much as possible to insure that my time is spent with my guest and not slaving away on chores.  I make most of my meals out of entreés that can be made in advance, and refrigerated.

If I know I will be home late one evening and need dinner prepared when I arrive, I make a crock-pot meal or use disposable aluminum baking pans to cut down on dishes.  Sometimes, I prepare a light appetizer in the morning and leave it in the refrigerator, or contained on the counter with a note, so my guests can nosh until I arrive home.

Of course, there is no rule against taking your house guests out to dinner, but I think at least one home-cooked meal is a nice gesture.  Pick one of your never-fail recipes and wow your company.

  • Do some research

If my guests are going to be staying more than a day or two, I like to research things for us to do together.  I look into local events, like art exhibits, festivals, plays, and recreation.  I make note of unique shops and restaurants to try.  Try to find activities that your guests enjoy.  This is especially important if children are coming to visit.

Some notes for house guests:

  • Remember your place

Whenever I am a house guest, I try to be as conscientious as possible.  I am not staying in my own home, so my hosts may live very differently than I do.  As a general rule, I always defer to my hosts in manners of custom and comfort.

  • Give your host space

If I have my own transportation, I try to give my host an afternoon or a few hours alone.  I think some time apart can be healthy and needed, especially if you are a guest who is staying long-term.

  • Be thankful

As a guest, I try to show my gratitude for the hospitality of my host by bringing an appropriate gift, or treating them to a special meal out.  I always phone my host when I return home from traveling to thank them for having me as a guest or send a heartfelt thank-you note in the mail.

UPCOMING:  In the next installment of Tips & Tricks For La Maison, I will have some tips for having house guests.  Be sure to check it out soon!