You put clean sheets on the guest bed and stocked up the pantry – now the guests are about to arrive, and it’s time to show you’re the host with the most! Keep these tips in mind to ensure your overnight guests enjoy their stay.
To ensure everything goes smoothly and everyone has a relaxed and happy time, keep a few things in mind:
• Always make sure your guests know what’s expected of them. Be considerate but clear about what areas are off limits, designated eating areas, and mealtimes. Flexibility is fine, but guests will appreciate knowing the rules of the house ahead of time.
• When gathering for a meal, be clear about where everyone is to sit. Place cards put out in advance are helpful, or just direct everyone (do it before you serve the meal so people aren’t milling around in confusion). Keep parents next to small children so they can help them if necessary. Always serve guests first.
• Give your guests an idea of what time you generally get up in the morning and, if planning a sit-down breakfast, what time you expect to eat. Make sure to leave out the fixings for coffee and tea in case your guests get up before you. (Tip: have non-caloric sweetener on hand as well as sugar or honey.)
• Give your full attention to your guests. Don’t take phone calls that can wait or engage in activities that exclude others (reading, watching TV, projects).
• If your guests are bringing children with them, it’s a good idea to set aside an area just for them. If it’s in an area apart from where the adults are gathering, a TV with videos is fine. In any case, have items ready that the kids can entertain themselves with, such as toys, games, puzzles, or crayons and paper (no paints or other messy items!). Outdoor games are good, too, if the weather permits and you live in a safe area.
• Have activities in mind, but be open and flexible to changes. Company comes first, so never say, “Now we’re going to do such and such;” instead, ask your guests, “Would you like to…?”
Be clear ahead of time when the visit is to end. If your guests need to leave at a certain time, be cognizant of that when planning meals or other activities on that day.
As they are leaving, show your guests to the door, thank them individually for coming, and express how much you loved having them. If they brought gifts, thank them again for the gift as they leave. Follow this up a few days later with a quick, informal note (handwritten is good, but an email is also fine) thanking them again for coming, and telling them how glad you were to see them.