Be Our Guest: How to Make your Guests Feel Right at Home
Highlights: Overly Communicate, thoughtfully prepare some snacks/drinks/goodies, Spend a night in the space and see how it feels (and invest in a separate set of iPhone chargers)
I am toying with the idea of doing a little etiquette series, as I love etiquette books and podcasts like a middle-aged schoolteacher loves Kohl’s Cash. I remember exactly how special and excited I felt to arrive to my friend Pegasus’ (aka Stacy’s) house in college to see a little handmade sign welcoming me to SLO and a few of her favorite Wet N Wild goodies (read: you don’t have to put in a lot of money into hosting but a little thought goes a long way). I also remember how miserable I felt at sleepovers growing up when I didn’t know the friend well enough to tell them I was hungry and feeling slightly paranoid about where my next meal would come from. What more can you do than having a clean/tidy home? Oh, there’s SO MUCH!!
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate and then Communicate:
If you are in a position to offer your guest a ride to/from the airport and would like to pick them up (it’s NOT mandatory!), ask for their flight details ahead of time. If you plan to prepare any meals at your home, ask if they have any food allergies or food likes/ dislikes. Each day you can check in about meal plans. Be direct about what you can offer guests, any limitations on time you have, and what they can do to be a good guest (be specific!). You are doing your guests a mental favor by telling them when you want them to come and leave, wether they are over for an evening or a weekend. I have been SO appreciative when my hosts says something like “I’m hoping to be in bed by 9,” or “I have to get caught up on housework Sunday afternoon, so that might be a good time for you to pack up.” It relieves me of so much mental anguish.
Other examples of little things to communicate when playing host for a weekend might be when is a good time to shower, any events that are scheduled during your time together, how to help themselves to snacks and breakfast items if they are hungry or wake up early (and ACTUALLY open your cabinets and show them to make them feel more comfortable knowing where to find items). Lastly, let them know if it would be helpful for them to strip the bed or make the bed when they are leaving.
If they are there to visit with you, try to make a schedule that includes options for activities and meals out. Write out any meals that you plan to make in. To avoid the whole “Where do you want to go'“ dilemma, you can offer 2-3 ideas for the day such as: “Do you want to go up to the city and walk around Union Square, or would you rather stay local and do a park day?” Usually I have a million ideas ahead of time, then when my friend actually comes to town I can only think of Chipotle. For meals, you might come up with a list of places to eat out so that you have a few options on hand.
Are you ready for your guests to leave? (this may feel ground breaking, but the best host in the world would): TELL THEM TO LEAVE. Don’t be rude, but you can easily and kindly say something like “I have had the BEST time with you! I am going to hit the hay soon, so I need to say good night in about 15 minutes” You can also add to offer them something for the road if you have a bottle of water or snack handy. (Obviously if they are over for more than a few hours, give them advanced warning about when you are hoping to part ways).
2. Guest Basket: The New Mini Fridge
Think of how special a well-stocked mini-fridge feels when you check into a fancy hotel (and how forbidden, at least for me). My ultimate fantasy would be to put a mini fridge in our guest room, but for now I’ve settled on stocking my guest room with a basket filled with some fancy waters, snacks like nuts, a few protein bars (or a few of their favorite snacks), and dried mangos. My friend Alex has been doing this for us during our visits to Long beach and I feel SO thought-of and like she was expecting me and is excited for me to be there. I like to send a text ahead of time asking guests for their 3 favorite snacks and 3 favorite things to drink and then try to have 1-2 of the options on hand in the kitchen or guest basket. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but a little thought goes a long way to making your guests feel they are wanted and welcome.
3. The Actual Guest room:
Regardless if you have a whole room for your guests or if they will be taking over an office space with an aerobed, the best advice (From The Emily Post Institute) for the guest space is to spend a night there yourself and see how you feel. The temperature may differ dramatically from the master (if so, stock a fan or heater blanket accordingly). Does the light come pouring in at 6am? (stock your guest basket with a Bucky eye mask if you can’t invest in better blinds). Does the AeroBed have a hole? Fix it. There are a few upgrades you can make to an aerobed, and two of them are: invest in awesome pillows and a memory foam mattress topper. This investment will also pay off if you sleep on your aerobed while traveling too! We have 2 sets of iPhone chargers that live in our guest room and we take those with us when we travel so that we don’t have to disassemble our charger situation. Is there enough room to put down luggage and a purse/bag? If it’s not solely a guest room, you may want to remove some items for your guest’s stay to free up extra space.