We often identify entertaining with raucous parties and festive dinners. But holidays are prime time for opening our front doors and guest bedrooms to friends and family visiting from out of town. Entertaining overnight is a far more complex endeavour than greeting them for a meal then ushering them out the door. While it might seem simple (offer a fresh bed & say goodnight) the reality is that having someone under the same roof poses opportunities to demonstrate the true depth of your hosting skills (and patience).
Before we dig in to what to do and what you need, let's consider the facts. You are offering up space in your private home to a loved one of friend. In doing so, we are inviting them into a bit of our private lives just as they are giving us a glimpse of theirs. The details will vary based upon the closeness of the relationship. Little sister in from college? A much more intimate affair than new in-laws visiting you for the first time. Consider the situation and the necessary formality and plan ahead.
Now... let's dive in an prepare for an exceptional experience regardless of the guest.
DEDICATE A SPACE TO CALL THEIR OWN
Ideally, a separate bed & bath are available for guests. No one wants awkward conversation with their father-in-law before that morning espresso. And it's not just about you. Your guest (or guests) will have their own rituals, their own set of needs and expectations. Get your guest area in shape prior to arrival and remove all clutter & storage from the space. A fresh coat of paint, updated lighting (or at least fresh bulbs where needed!) and a lovely rug all help to establish an area as a designated space for visitors. Think "hotel suite chic" and you get the idea. There's no shame in rolling out the red (or shaggy ivory!) carpet for those we care about.
INVEST IN CRISP WHITES
Honestly, nothing beats a freshly laundered set of high quality sheets. I've tried many brands, I personally prefer percale most of the year and sateen in only the coolest of months. You'll find that most people prefer the feel of percale, so I suggest you invest in a high quality set of classic whites. A mattress pad is crucial or protecting your bed. And pillows, dear pillows. Please invest in high quality and offer at least two per guest, preferably of different densities. I love them feather filled and almost flat. My husband loves to layer two fluffy pillows under his head. To each his own, right? While you don't have to recreate the Westin Dream Bed, at least offer sensational sheets. They will definitely appreciate it.
CREATE BEDSIDE NIRVANA
An accommodating table, a conveniently placed lamp and a convenient plug for recharging devices. These are essentials for hosting anyone. Those going the extra mile might wish to offer a candle, a water carafe and a best seller. Tip: if your tables have wood tops you should consider having a local glass shop create a custom cut piece to place on top. No one - neither host nor guest - likes a water ring to deal with after the fact.
STORAGE IS KEY
Never underestimate the small touches like a luggage rack (hello, bonus points!), an empty set of hangers (praise Jesus) and a small dish for personal effects such as jewelry & keys. It's the little things in life, and these small details will make anyone's visit that much more pleasurable.
It goes without saying that the bath should be sparkling clean. Polish the hardware, Windex the mirrors and make sure the tile is sparkling. Even the most spartan of spaces can look glamorous when cleaned to perfection. Beyond that I love offering a fluffy stack of towels (white is always right, in my opinion, for keeping the hotel chic vibe front and center), luxe soaps and good lighting. Cleanliness in this case really is king, so don't hold back when the urge to scrub overcomes you.
LUXE LITTLE TOUCHES
Offer guests your wifi password and make their little sanctuary a place they love spending time. A faux fur throw, a seat by the window and a stack of magazines might be all you need to take a spare room from dull to dazzling. If you can, make their stay an exceptional one. You'll feel great, they'll feel loved and everyone wins.
PRIVACY IS KEY
This is the most challenging amenity to offer, isn't it? Regardless of how grand your home, it's a simple fact that you and your guests are sharing the same roof for a night or two. Brace yourself for the inevitable! By preparing the guest areas with all they need, you are less likely to be bumping into one another at the bathroom sink at midnight. But be forthcoming about any house rules or scheduling issues and try to be accommodating of theirs. If you're a night owl and they rise before dawn, it's best to set expectations early and show them how the coffee maker works so you can sleep in. Communication (and a little flexibility) will be key. The golden rule of gracious hosting: once they are in bed or in the bath, respect their privacy and let them have their space. Tip: coffee accoutrements in their bedroom or nearby are always a very nice touch!
Take care of things ahead of the stay and ensure you have time to enjoy your guests. Relax. Host with enthusiasm and open arms. Delight in spending up-close time with those who have traveled to see you. Enjoy them. Celebrate them. Welcome them. It will show.
Happy hosting, friends!