August 2007: How to Prepare for House Guests

It is summer time and many of us will have visitors from out of town. The trick to entertaining guests is planning in advance and creating a self-serve atmosphere. How many of you have worked so hard, vacuuming, dusting, changing beds etc. that by the time the guests arrive you are ready for a nap? I put my hand up for that one! I can remember working so hard that by the time my company arrived I was physically exhausted. I vowed never to do that again and I have done pretty well in keeping that promise to myself.

Here’s my secret. I plan in advance. I write down what I need to do and do a little each day (i.e. cleaning, shopping, laundry, changing beds etc.) I also have learned to delegate now that my two children are teenagers. Yes I did say teenagers. I ask each of them to clean a bathroom. I have showed them what that means and so they know the drill. That helps me out a lot! I get my husband to help with the vacuuming and shopping.

Planning your meals is a good idea. If you buy or defrost items ahead of time it will make your visiting time more pleasant. Even simple chores like buying fruit and vegetables and washing and cutting up ahead of time. Buy some lettuce and wash and keep in a bag and cut up some veggies and keep in a container and presto you have a salad!

Create a self-serve atmosphere. When your guests arrive, show them where everything is (towels, toilet paper, food etc.) This will avoid them asking at inopportune times. I know as a guest, I really appreciate this. I even recommend putting these items (soap, towels etc.) in their room or in the bathroom in a basket. This way they don’t feel shy. My house is your house is my motto!

Let guests feel part of the family. While you are tossing the salad, let them slice some bread or set the table. It will help them feel more involved in the process. I feel more comfortable with people who let me pitch in and help rather than leaving me to read magazines on my own in the living room! As a hostess I appreciate the help and as a guest, I like pitching in! It is also a great time to visit and catch up.

Don’t forget to give your guests some extra pillows, towels, magazines. Have a night light on or give them a flashlight (good in case of a power failure or handy for late night trips to the bathroom). Ask guests if there is anything they need before they retire for the evening. You may have missed something (a glass of water whatever).
Now sit back and enjoy your company because they came to see you and not the back of your head as you are busy working away! When things are well planned, visits can be enjoyable and relaxed. I hate visiting people who are stressed and I feel like my visit is an imposition! The best visits are spent when we focus on the guests and not on the house!