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Houseguests 101

By on December 28, 2006

When entertaining overnight houseguests, you want them to enjoy themselves, be comfortable and relaxed, and especially feel welcome. You might think you’ve got it all covered. Perhaps, you’ve anticipated their needs, such as remembering their food preferences and/or dietary restrictions, setting out scented soaps, crisp, clean linens and fresh flowers.

What about making an extra effort with planning and additional special finishing touches? It’s your thoughtful attention to detail that your guests will appreciate and fondly remember.

Plan Ahead

Being flexible is vital when hosting houseguests, but there are a few tidbits of information you should make clear before you accept guests into your home, for an extended visit. Not only is it important to know when your guests are arriving, but it’s equally important to know when they are leaving. Don’t fall into the trap of open ended visits.

You’ll also want to be clear on issues, such as whether they can bring pets, your rules on smoking, sleeping arrangements, and your schedule. Is there anything worse than greeting your houseguest at the door and seeing a cat that you’re allergic to? How about fixing a nice meal their first night in town and then being told, they had plans elsewhere? Let’s face it, no one wants to feel taken advantage of, disappointed, or disrespected by their guests, but at the same time, you want to be a gracious host.

Keep in mind that this is your home and they are guests. The more communicative you are prior to their arrival, the more smoothly the visit will go. Do not expect guests to have the same etiquette that you have. It’s often presumptions and expectations that lead to disaster and hurt feelings. Addressing these details ahead of time, allows you to fully embrace their visit without any friction.

Prepare Immediate Family

Communicate plans to your immediate family. Inform them what the sleeping arrangements are, so there aren’t any surprises. This gives your immediate family members an opporunity to safeguard their possessions too. Inform family that the space your guests are using is their temporary private space, so they’ll want to retrieve any items they might need, prior to the guests arriving. You’ll want to remind your children of your behavorial expectations too.

Being Gracious

You want to be the “hostess of the mostest”. You’ve envisioned hotel accomodations and amenities and have attempted to replicate it for your guests. To accomplish anticipating their needs, you can try spending a night where your guests will be sleeping to see if it’s comfortable.

Here’s a handy checklist of thoughtful tips and ideas you may not have considered to offer:

*water bottles
*bath and beauty items such as toothbrush, hairdryer, shampoo, toilet paper, sanitary napkins, facial tissue, razors, hairbrushes/combs.
*slipper basket
*puzzle books
*dresser space and closet space with spare hangers
*spare blankets
*internet connection
*mini fridge
*coffee maker
*have a game plan, but don’t overschedule or force routines. Can offer things to do and local events, gc’s to movie theater or local restaurant
*let them help
*give gift items
*give them a tour of your city and a map
*place to set their luggage
*chairs other than the bed
*remove breakables
*first aid kit and over the counter medications
*spare key
*alarm clock

If with children:

*beanbags or nap mats for when they get tired out
*craft supplies
*kid friendly foods and drinks
*disposable camera
*make toys available
*child proof the guest room

Don’t Overplan

Try not to micromanage the entire visit. One of the best gifts you can give your guests is relaxation and rest. They’ll need their own space to simply unwind. You can show them where food and dishes are kept and let them know they are welcome to make themselves at home. As an example, you can have your days planned where two out of the three meals are casual. You don’t have to knock yourself out. You can keep things simple such as a continental breakfast or a buffet style lunch.

It’s crucial to remember that everyone has different routines and eating and living habits. It’s also important to be aware that you are the host, and should arrange to have food available and are responsible for arranging entertainment, to a certain point. Again, this is why you need to set the boundaries BEFORE guests arrive. Most importantly, be flexible and keep a sense of humor.

Houseguests 411

You’ve planned and prepared for your houseguests. Have you considered that you’ve maybe made them too comfy? What can you do with houseguests that have overstayed their welcome? Another responsibility of the host is to decide when the visit is over.

Some guests can’t grasp subtle hints. You can try boring them or requesting them to do housecleaning and laundry, start sentences with “Before you go…” and “Let me help you get your things together”, but it may come down to just being open and honest and stating that it’s been wonderful having them visit, but it’s time for you to get back to your routine and time for them to go.

After the Visit

Although, after the visit, it’s customary for the guests to send a thank you note, gift, or at the very least a thank you call, you can also send them a note expressing how much you enjoyed their visit. You can enclose any items they may have forgotten and add any photos that were taken. Hopefully, your visit was smooth and memorable, so you can graciously invite them again soon.

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  1. Michael Gannotti

    12/29/2006 at 9:54 am

    Was cruising Technorati and ran across your blog. Very nicely done. Hope you and your family are not freezing too much up in MI. My wife and her side of the family are from Saginaw and I know it can get cooooold up there.
    Best of luck with the blog. Looks like you are off to a great start.

  2. emily_hope

    2/17/2007 at 11:44 pm

    I have had trouble with houseguests. Last year, my stepdaughter, her husband and their 3 boys came for Thanksgiving. They arrived a day early. It was terrible. Another time that we had guests, we cooked a meal, they even watched us cooking and then later told us they were going out. Aargh! Next time, I will try to find out pertinent imformation beforehand and let them know some ground rules.

  3. mom23boys

    2/18/2007 at 7:03 pm

    Great tips! We don’t have houseguests very often, but when we do I always feel stressed. I feel that something is always out of place and I want everything to be perfect. I need to learn to relax more when I have houseguests. I know it would make the visit less stressing.


    2/19/2007 at 7:59 pm

    GRRRR…..don’t get me wrong, i love having houseguests, but every once in awhile i get houseguests that don’t want to leave….lol. i always feel so stressed when we have family from out of town visit & stay a few nights. i agree with mom23boys, i really need to learn how to relax & enjoy their company instead of stressing 24/7.

  5. Nicol

    3/4/2007 at 8:17 pm

    Great article, but you missed one component that creates friction around here: children with special needs. Not referring to spoiled kids, but kids who require set schedules and consistent rules.
    One visit with houseguests who have few rules and no consequences really, really messes these kids up. Hard to explain why our rule is that you eat what you’re given and all the guest kids eat is what they want: bread, M&Ms, juice, chips, etc. They watch tv 24/7 and our rule is 1/2 hour per day. Really hard to not come off as a b**** when the houseguests undermine all that. Vent over, lol. Love ya, Sara!!

  6. Linessa

    4/17/2007 at 12:12 pm

    One additional thing that we include with our Welcome Basket (which includes many of the items listed above) is a note telling our guest how honored we are to have them in our home. Nice touch that always WOWs.

  7. Pingback: Dealing with a Houseguest Turned 3rd Roommate

  8. Larry

    10/16/2008 at 7:44 am

    I have a house guest at this very moment that has over stayed her welcome. I have tried dropping hints, But this morning, I will announce “today, you are going home”

  9. Emilie

    5/21/2010 at 11:25 pm

    I’m glad I’ve came across your web site, some captivating points you have got here and futhermore a concise writing personality.

  10. Samantha

    3/10/2013 at 3:48 pm

    yeah right, THEY should be sending YOU the thank you note.

    perhaps to be more balanced, you could also write an article on How To Be A Good Houseguest. Particularly for anyone staying over a few days:
    Rent your own car,
    Buy most your own food (cook it too),
    Bring a house gift,
    Take your hosts out to dinner,
    Don’t take or use anything (esp foods, or expensive items) without asking first,
    Don’t just sit around their apartment all day eating/using all their stuff, and
    Never book your visit without first asking your hosts and picking the right length of time.

    Oh, and if you eat twice as often or twice as much as them, consider buying all the food and replenishing the pantries before your finally leave. Thanks.

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