No matter how long your guests stay with you, you want them to feel welcome, comfortable and at home. Most guests will know your circumstances, and don’t expect you to roll out the red carpet if it’s not within your means to do so, but you want to do a few special things to let them know how happy you are to have them.
Whether your guests are couch-surfing for the night, staying the weekend, or spending the summer makes a great deal of difference in your preparations and plans.
Here are four things you can do to make entertaining guests nice for you as for them.
Share Preferences, Special Needs Beforehand
Some guests you may know so well that you have their likes and dislikes memorized. Others you may have to ask. Before they arrive, find out if your guests have unique preferences such as an all-vegan diet so you can have plenty of vegetables on hand. Learn if they have allergies to your pets or foods you may be planning to serve such as shellfish or peanuts.
Ask if they prefer coffee or tea; decaf or regular? Beer or wine?
Let guests know if you have preferences, too. If you don’t smoke, you won’t be expected to allow smoking in your home, but you can arrange a smoking section outdoors with chairs and an ashtray for your guests.
Treat Guests to a Five-Star Experience
Your guest room may be a euphemism for the home office or junk room. If possible, clear out as much “stuff” as you can. Chances are you’re storing things you’re not likely to use again anyway.
Even if your guests have to share space with your desk or art supplies, you can still make them cozy. Move your out-of-season clothes aside so they can hang up a few items.
The bedding area and the bathroom should be spotlessly clean, with fresh linens and towels, and extra pillows, face cloths, and blankets. For a special touch, put a piece of fine chocolate on each pillow.
Guests dislike bothering hosts for forgotten toiletries, so prepare a basket of shampoo, conditioner, luscious bath gel, disposable razors, cotton balls, cotton swabs, toothpaste and an unopened toothbrush.
Another basket of snacks, bottled water, magazines and a latest novel could be nice, too. For kids, have some comic books, sketch pads and washable pens, and games on hand.
Give Guests the Guided Tour
Greet your guests with a home-cooked meal, so they can relax and unwind after dragging their suitcases in the door. You can save the big night out for the following evening, or go out on the town after dessert.
Take them immediately to their quarters, and show them where to unpack, get extra towels, put their laundry, and then take them on a tour of the kitchen. Show them where the coffee and tea makings are, and a few food items they can prepare themselves, like muffins with jam, if they need a midnight snack or wake up before the rest of the household. Have some sandwich meats, cheeses and breads on hand.
If it’s OK with you for guests to access your Internet account using their wireless modem, you can also provide them with your “key.” Give them the URLs to your favorite websites that talk about your town, such as city-data.com.
Stick a map of sights to see, shopping, spas, sporting events, theater and museums in your town in the welcome basket. Attach a sticky note – where would you like to go? It will help generate ideas of things to do.
Let Guests Join the Family
You may lead a busy life, and fitting guests into your schedule may be challenging, so invite them to come along to some events! Tell them what’s on the schedule and give them choices.
Your guests may have plans, too, so be flexible about working out the schedule.
Introduce guests to family and friends with a lunch or a cocktail hour.
Let guests feel a part of the family by letting them help with washing dishes, walking the dog, or reading a bedtime story to a child.
Respect your guests’ privacy. They may have work assignments to finish, or wish to sleep late. Even if they have to share space, make sure they can have some “alone” time when they need it.
By making your guests feel welcome with your thoughtfulness, chances are they will be equally thoughtful toward you.