Stay with me, I’m organized!
I grew up in a large family,
and vacations were almost always taken by car. We’d load up and hit the road. We mostly went to places where we had relatives to visit, and often stayed at their homes. As a kid, my standards were quite low. A sleeping bag on the family room floor with a bunch of other kids stuffed in there was fine by me.
As an adult, I still sometimes stay with family or friends when traveling. They are all kind enough to give me a room with a bed, and I have no complaints. Staying with others has alerted me to modify my own guest quarters when friends and family stay with me.
I’ve compiled my top 10 list of things to do when you are having guests. Hosting company is more enjoyable if you’re organized and have what they need. If you don’t want them to come back, you may want to ignore the following advice!
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#1. Give me a plug!
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t travel with at least once electronic device that needs to be recharged. If you have a couple who will be staying in your guest room, keep in mind they will likely each have a cell phone, laptop and/or tablet that will need recharging overnight. It is kind of embarrassing as a guest to go into the bedroom and move the furniture around looking for an electric outlet so you can recharge your device(s). You probably don’t want your guests fighting over who gets to plug in their device first. Throw in a C-pap machine for your sleep apnea guests, and that’s a lot of power needed to get through the night! I have two surge protecting power strips on the floor right next to each side of the bed. No furniture needs to be moved, and there are 6 sockets per strip. If my guests need more than 12 outlets, then maybe I don’t want them coming back….
#2. Give me a password!
I can check email from my phone, but I prefer to use my laptop for that, and just about everything else. I like to be connected to the world when I’m away from home, and if I’m staying at your house, I’d like to know your WiFi password. You can set up your WiFi to have a guest password if you don’t want guests to have your regular password. My WiFi password is different than anything else I use, so I don’t care who has it. I can give it out without feeling like I’m giving away the keys to the kingdom (or queendom). It is much easier for your guests if your password is easy, like: “Smith guest”, instead of “SGKE738tjg#$kgfdsdKP9375”. I always feel a little “stalker-ish” when I must ask my hosts for their WiFi password. What if they don’t really want to give it to me? It’s a little awkward asking, and I have a great solution for this problem. On a recent trip, the guest room was equipped with a beautifully framed sign that said, “All you need is love, and WiFi.” It included the username and password. Yay! I could connect without having that uncomfortable moment of asking for the info.
#3. I’m thirsty.
I am not sure why I am never thirsty while I’m at home, but when I’m traveling suddenly I feel as if I’ve crossed the desert on foot. A few bottles of water, maybe displayed in an ice bucket on the nightstand is a nice gesture. Guests don’t typically want to keep asking you for a bunch of stuff when you’ve been nice enough to put them up in your home. This should help make them more comfortable. Often times I’ll do without because I don’t want to feel like a pest, and I don’t want anyone staying in my home to feel that way. You could even throw in a few snacks while you’re at it!
#4. I’m cold.
On my bed I have an electric blanket and a heavy comforter. I also have an extra lovely furry throw blanket I pile on the bed when I go to sleep. They may get thrown off during the night if it gets too hot, but it is easier for me to cool off than to warm up. I also sleep with four pillows. My guestroom has six pillows, an electric blanket (that no one has ever used), a velour blanket over the bedspread, and an extra down comforter in the closet. No one will ever be too cold in that room. I have a coffee table at the foot of the bed, so all the extra blankets and pillows that are unwanted can easily be placed there, or in the closet.
#5. I need my space.
I think this one is really overlooked, especially by those of us who really want to make a good impression on our guests. We want the room to be cute, like a boutique hotel and have all kinds of nice decorations in it. I stayed in someone’s home, and the room was beautiful. The vanity had an old-fashioned brush and comb placed on a fancy flat mirror. The dresser had a runner on it, covered with beautiful Victorian candles and decorative boxes. Every inch of the room looked like a page from a magazine. The only problem was I had no place to put my stuff. I didn’t feel like it was OK for me to clear off the dresser and plop my suitcase up there. The condition of the bathroom was pretty much the same; beautiful, with no room for my stuff. Its important to remember that no matter how cute the room is, it needs to have empty space for people to put their stuff. I have empty space in my guest closet with hangers, so folks can hang their clothes freely without feeling bad about shoving my stuff to the side. The nightstand has a lamp and a phone, and the vanity has a lamp. This gives plenty of space for purses, computers, etc. If you don’t have furniture that offers an empty space, you can get a folding luggage rack, like they have in hotels. You can buy them here. It nice if your guests don’t have to keep their luggage on the floor. Its great if they feel like they are in their own special space, and not being warehoused in your space.
#6. I forgot something.
In my guest bathroom, I believe I literally have everything anyone would ever need in terms of toiletries. I have two decorative boxes. The bottom, larger one is full of tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner, hand and body lotion, soap, etc. The top box has one of everything. I have the standard toiletries, as well as extra toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine supplies, contact lens solution and an extra case, sewing kit, nail file and clippers, tweezers, mini hair dryer, flushable wipes… you get the point. Someone could show up with no luggage, and I have at least the toiletries to get them through the trip! I’d also recommend keeping a can of air freshener in there too. 😊 I have a free-standing toilet paper holder, and it holds an extra 3 rolls. Unless my guests are staying for a very long time, or have some digestive problems, no one will ever have to ask me for more toilet paper. Let your guests know where you keep the extra rolls if its not obvious.
Years ago, I had this brilliant idea that I would get a set of guest towels that I really liked and matched the décor of the bathroom. I bought 4 thick burgundy bath towels with matching washcloths. I washed them and placed them in the guest bath, walking by, admiring them from time to time. It was a fine idea, as long as I had only one person staying with me. When a family of 6 came to visit, I finally recognized the flaw in my plan. Each person had a towel hanging in a different place to dry. The two extra towels I gave them were not a problem. They didn’t match, so it was easy for them to know who used the non-burgundy towels. If you thought you hung your towel on the right side of the shower, but it was really on the left, after your next shower, you would be drying yourself with someone else’s towel. That may not bother some people, but the thought of it makes my flesh crawl! It would have been smarter for me to get towels that complimented each other, like a burgundy towel with a green stripe, and a green towel with a burgundy stripe, and…. endless combinations that would make it easier for guests to lay claim and remember which towel was their’s.
#8. We are legion.
If you have more people than you actually have room for (but are accommodating them anyway), then you might be Nicaraguan… I say this because I’ve been on the giving and receiving side of this with my Nicaraguan relatives! I’ve had a bunch of people sleeping on my living room floor over the years, and not all of them were children. To keep the chaos to a minimum, during the day everyone put their belongings in my home office. I cleared off all the desktop space in my office, which mercifully is quite large, and each person had a large space to put their bags. The living room was useful and clean by day, and a giant dorm room by night. It can be frustrating living out of a suitcase, and I think this really helped my guests from feeling overwhelmed. Nothing got lost and everything stayed organized. Everyone consistently had their own space to put their stuff.
This is sort of a universal requirement. While not everyone drinks coffee, if you’re making a pot, make enough for everyone. It will cost you an extra penny or two in water and coffee beans. I had an incident while staying with some folks who brewed only enough for themselves. I woke up to the heavenly aroma, and when I reached the coffee pot, it had a couple of drops in it. Aside from not wanting to rummage through their cabinets to look for the supplies to make more, it made me feel unimportant, and very unwelcome. Its easy to check with your guests the prior evening to see if they’ll want coffee. Having tea as an alternative is a good idea. I don’t particularly like tea, but I have hundreds of tea bags in my kitchen solely for friends and family. Hot chocolate and spiced apple cider packets are also included in my beverage collection. I like sugar, and despise all other artificial sweeteners. Even so, I have a few individual packets of them just in case people prefer that over the real stuff.
#10. Clean Up!
When I am a guest, I always ask if I can strip the bed sheets and volunteer to put fresh sheets on before leaving. Thus far, no one has ever let me remake the bed, but I do like to at least strip the sheets off. I like doing this because this is what I’d like my guests to do. Its kind of silly to make the bed when you know as soon as you leave it will be torn apart. It also looks bad, in my humble opinion, to leave a bed unmade. So, its best if you let ‘em know what to do with the bed once they are done using it. Some folks will help with cleaning the aftermath of their visit more than others. If they want to help with some basic things, I let them. I think it makes people feel better about having stayed with you when they know they’ve left the place as they found it. It also makes their hosts more likely to invite them back.
How about you? What do you do to make your friends and family more comfortable when they stay with you? Let me know on my Facebook page at Elaine’s Lane.