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Prepare For Guests
By Plow & Hearth
2/21/2013 3:01:00 PM

The holidays are fast approaching, which means you may find yourself with a houseful of guests. The number one goal of every host should be to make their guests feel as at home as possible, and these do-in-advance tips can help you offer the warmest welcome possible.


Get a head’s up on likes/dislikes and other special requests. Find out ahead of time what your guests like to eat or drink and stock up on those items. Do they prefer coffee or tea? Fat-free milk or 2%? If kids are coming, what breakfast cereals do they prefer? Any special dietary needs (diabetic, vegan, lactose- or gluten-intolerant)? Be sure to ask about any allergies (that includes food, pets, scents and cleaning products).

Clean. Welcoming your guests into a clean, neat home is more about showing them respect and ensuring they’re comfortable than it is about trying to impress. Make sure your entire home is clean and tidy, paying special attention to the guest bedroom and bathroom, kitchen, and any areas where your guests will spend time. If you have pets, limit their access to your guest room ahead of time in case your visitors are sensitive to pet dander. Consider leaving a bouquet of flowers in your guest bedroom or refreshing it and the guest bath with a citrus spray or essential oils (inquire about allergies first).

• If there’s anything you don’t want your guests to see or touch, put it away before they arrive. (It’s a good idea to remove breakable items from the guest bedroom, particularly if children are staying in them. This isn’t about a lack of trust so much as providing a stress-free environment!)

• Close off rooms or areas that you want to remain off-limits, and lock them if possible.

Prepare the guest room. One of the best ways to gauge the comfort of your guest room is to spend the night in it. That way, you’ll experience for yourself how comfortable the bed is, whether or not there’s a draft, and if the window needs a blackout curtain to keep the morning sun from waking sleepers prematurely.

Insulated Curtains

• Empty a drawer or two in the guest room dresser, and leave space in the closet along with plenty of extra hangers. If you have a rack for a suitcase, set it up in a convenient spot. Clear off the top of the dresser, nightstands or desk so your guests will have room to set things down.

• Make sure the bed is cozy and inviting, with clean sheets and plenty of bedding. Many people sleep “warm,” so a good rule of thumb when it comes to temperature is to set the thermostat a little lower at night and “layer” the bed with lighter blankets instead of providing a single, heavy cover that only allows a guest the choice of being either too hot or too cold. Stow an extra blanket or two on the closet shelf in your guest room, and be sure to let your guests know they are there. Extra pillows (plan on two per person) are a good idea, too.

• Adequate lighting is important. Whether or not you have an overhead light, do provide a bedside lamp (headboard lamps are a great option if you don’t have room for a nightstand). And if there’s going to be more than one person staying in the room, put one on each side of the bed. Be sure the bulbs work.

• Include a small wastebasket with a liner in it, along with a box of tissues.

• Bare floors can be chilly in the mornings, so you might want to consider putting an accent rug on the floor next to the bed so your guests won’t get cold feet first thing.

• Many people like having a fan for background noise even during the winter, so if you don’t have a ceiling fan, put a small tabletop fan on the dresser. Your guests might also appreciate a working alarm clock and a telephone.

Prepare the guest bathroom. The guest bathroom should be clean, with a well-lit vanity, pretty shower curtain and a bath mat.

• Leave out clean bath towels, hand towels and washcloths for each guest, and be sure to let them know where they can find extras easily (in an accessible linen closet or in the guest bedroom closet).

• Just as in the guest bedroom, a wastebasket with a liner will be much appreciated, as will a rug in front of the vanity to protect feet from a cold floor. An absorbent bath mat in front of the tub or shower stall is also a good idea.

• Protect guests from a slip in the tub or shower with a mat or some other non-slip surface.

• Make sure there’s room on the vanity for your guests’ toiletries, but do leave out a box of tissues, a toothbrush holder and a soap dish. A paper cup dispenser loaded with cups is also a good idea.

• Stock up the medicine chest with soap, toothpaste, shampoo and body lotion in case your guests may have forgotten to bring these things. A bottle of pain reliever, comb and brush and an extra hair dryer are also great if you have room. (Be sure to let your guests know these things are available for them when you show them the bathroom.)

• Finding your way around a strange house at night can be a challenge. Leave a nightlight in the guest bath to help guests looking for a light switch.


Stock up the pantry. Plan meals ahead of time, and make sure to have ingredients and tableware on hand in case your guests stay longer than you planned.

• Make sure to have plenty of drinks, including coffee, tea, soda and juice. If you don’t have room for cold drinks in your refrigerator, get a bag or two of ice.

• Plan to make breakfast for your guests at least once. French toast or scrambled eggs with sausage are easy to make for a crowd. Breakfast cereal, bagels, bread for toast, jellies and jam, milk and juice will do for most mornings.

• For afternoons and evenings, have snacks and savories ready, including chips with dip, cheese and pepperoni, and cold vegetables sliced ahead of time.


Make sure your guests know when you expect them, and greet them cheerfully when they arrive. Say hello to each person individually (this includes kids and pets) rather than just saying a general “hi” to the entire group.

• Immediately take your guests’ coats and hang them up, being sure they know where to find them again. If you prefer your guests to remove their shoes, have a place to safely stow them so they are not piled untidily in a corner.

Rooster Coat Rack

• Right away, give guests a brief tour of your home so they can find the important rooms (such as the bathroom) for themselves. Show them where they will be sleeping so they can put their luggage down.

• Keep pets out of the way during the arrival. Once the tour is completed, introduce your guests to your pets (this is especially important for dogs, who may see your guests as intruders). If any of your pets need to be left alone, now is the time to make that clear.

• Invite your guests to sit down, and offer them something to drink. This is a great time to catch up!

Now that you’re all ready for the big arrival, check out our tips for ensuring your visit goes smoothly and your guests have a good time!

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Categories: Inside The Home


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The Olla: A Brief History

Olla (Spanish, pronounced “oh-ya”) jars have been around since ancient times. Made of unglazed ceramic, ollas traditionally have short, narrow necks with wider bodies, and are made in a variety of shapes. They have been used for thousands of years for cooking, storage, and plant irrigation.

When used to irrigate plants, an olla is buried neck-deep in the ground near a plant’s roots, with the opening of the olla extended above the soil so that it can be filled with water periodically. The porous walls of the unglazed pottery allow the water to seep through gradually, constantly and consistently hydrating the plants without overwatering them – and without wasting precious water to evaporation or runoff.

The use of ollas for irrigation was introduced to the American Southwest by Spanish conquistadors during Colonial times, becoming very common among Native American tribes and Hispanic settlers. Though the technique gave way to more modern methods of irrigation some time ago, its superior efficiency, coupled with its simplicity, has caused it to make a comeback. Though the technique has changed little since its introduction, today’s ollas are usually capped off, making them even more water-efficient.

Perfect for home gardens, Ollas are a super-easy, eco-friendly, less time-consuming way to water annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables and plants of all kinds in dry, sandy soil, very hot or drought-prone areas, raised beds, and even pots, planters and hanging baskets. Fill the olla before you leave on a short vacation to enjoy worry-free watering – and a smaller water bill!

How it Works:

Water is pulled directly through the terra-cotta!

Read more about Ollas on our blog.

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