How to host guests- 10 Amazing Tips!

Dear husband and I have been measuring and planning lately.  Nothing is more exciting to me than planning and thinking about renovations (well… a little hyperbole perhaps). You might think I’d be sick of them, but frankly there’s nothing like a project to get the creative process flowing.  Right now we’re planning our basement renovation.  Half of the basement had been finished (the walk out side) but after the fire we had to rip out all the drywall, and the mini kitchen area because of the water damage.  So this is an opportunity to change things a little, and to finish off the whole basement this time.  We have always planned to make it a comfortable place for guests to stay when visiting.  Living far away from most of my siblings and parents means their visits are for a weekend at a minimum.

Thinking about having guests got me to thinking about what makes a good experience when having guests or being a guest in someone elses home.  Now I love looking at magazines, and seeing the pretty guest rooms with fresh flowers on the nightstand, and lots of lovely decorative touches.  But I think that the first goal should be practicality and comfort, and pretty comes in third.  If you and your hubby are rolling into a trough in the middle of the bed, you aren’t remembering the flowers and exquisite bedding… trust me 😉

So I came up with some ideas/thoughts on the whole matter and I’d be glad to hear your opinions and ideas as well.

First off,  make sure you have enough beds for everyone that is visiting.  Simple, but very important.  If a family is visiting, try to have two places/bedrooms for them to sleep, so that they can arrange for the crying kids to sleep in one room and the light sleepers in another.  If several people are sharing a room, a white noise sound machine, or fan can be good to drown out noises that keep people awake and the morning noises of the household’s early risers.

Secondly, it doesn’t matter so much if the mattress is on a bed or a floor…. it matters if it is comfortable (no springs poking out etc).  The only exception is for older people who would find it hard to get up off a mattress on the floor.  Kids can do with thin foam mattresses/pads, but us older folks like a little distance between the floor and our hips so try for a real mattress (foam or spring). Couch pillows work in a pinch.  The new quick inflating air mattresses also work.  Just beware of using them on a basement/cement floor (even when carpeted) in winter.  The cold seeps into the air mattress and you feel like you are sleeping on a block of ice – trust me!

Thirdly, night lights are very welcoming and handy.  Kids usually like them, parents who are sharing their room with kids like them – it helps them find the bed in the dark.  Nightlights should also be situated in long dark hallways and bathrooms to help the guests find their way in the dark.

Fourth, an alarm clock is important.  Nothing like waking up in a strange house, while it’s pitch black and having no clue what time it is.

Fifth, clear off surfaces!  Keep the top of the dresser empty, so that it can be used for luggage, toiletries or an impromptu change table.  Leave floor space for suitcases or have a luggage rack or chest to place the suitcase. Along the same line, have space in the closet for hanging clothes.

Six, night stands are hugely important…. even if it is a little stool.  Ever step on your glasses getting out of bed? Bedside lamps for reading are nice too.

Seven, window treatments… get some!  No one wants to put on a show for the neighbours.  Curtains, shades, blinds whatever.  And while you’re at it, make them blackout ones, so that your guest can sleep past 5:00 am when the sun comes up.

The eighth thought  covers bedding.  I think it is very important to have a few layers on the bed so that your guest can adjust the level of warmth according to their needs.  Ever been at a hotel that just has big down filled comforters?  You end up getting up in the middle of the night, fumbling for the a/c controls trying  to turn it down to 60F.  A nice light cotton blanket, with a quilt/duvet/comforter over top should do the trick.  Sheets should be 100% cotton, to prevent sensitive people like me from getting sweaty and clammy. 😉

Nine, bathroom stuff. Towels….  have a place for your guests to hang them.  Most bathrooms are entirely inadequate in the towel bar department.  So maybe some hooks on the back of the bedroom door, or a quilt rack/stand could work?  Also, if your shower has funny tricks, like the hot and cold are switched, or there is a very special way to make the water spray out of the shower head, tell your guests!  Nothing like being ready to hop in the shower and realizing you can’t get the thing to work 🙂  And how about some nice shampoo and conditioner available to use? And maybe some basic body lotion?   Finally, keep a toilet plunger in your bathroom.  That will suffice… need I say more?

Ten, enjoy your company!  Especially since they will be so well rested thanks to your thoughtful provision.

After reading this, I realize that most tips have to do with sleeping.  But that’s very important isn’t it?  Makes or breaks the visit I think.  And I don’t want to give you the idea that everything has to be perfect.. that you need a dedicated guest room etc.  I have had great experiences sleeping on a rec room floor.  The point is to think through the practical stuff, so that your guests have a comfortable stay.

Anything to add?  Please do share 🙂


About Lora

I am a 40 something wife to my patient and talented husband Scott, Mom to my five children (from toddler to teen) and oldest sister to eight siblings. I am interested in too many things, love to read everything around me, and have developed a strong interest in design and renovation along with my husband. I am conservative, Christian, and by the grace of God, trying to find His way through the ups and downs of my life.
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4 Responses to How to host guests- 10 Amazing Tips!

  1. Marcia says:

    Sounds great; I wish we had a guest room here. I think that one of the reasons we so seldom see my family is that it’s less than comfortable here. We should have done a walk-out basement, but hindsight is always 20/20.

    • Lora says:

      That’s too bad. Of course when families get bigger, it seems more daunting to descend on relatives, so we’ll see what happens over here in the years ahead. Btw, I’d love to see your place sometime. My mom loves it.

  2. Sandra says:

    Had to laugh a few times here at your very vivid and apt descriptions! I agree with everything you mentioned, definitely. Nothing like tossing and turning on springy mattresses (been there several times in England…) and wetting the entire bathroom because I didn’t know how the shower worked!
    A few things I usually have available in the guest room: kleenex box, water bottles, extra tube of toothpaste. For us, we need a plug adapter, but that doesn’t apply to you.
    I’ve learned a lot of hosting tips from Susan, who’s an amazing host!
    We’ve had our share of guests over the years, and anticipate lots to come! We’ve got plenty of bedding, but our main challenge is only one bathroom (one small powder room downstairs). We just make sure we communicate shower times, etc.
    We’re actually getting guests in our house for 10 days while we’re in Canada this summer. A little strange knowing they’ll be in our house without us being there to host, but we offered it knowing how wonderful it is to have your own place of quiet and rest while on furlough / vacation back in the homeland 🙂
    Before I forget! We hosted Brian and Andrea + 6 kids this past January, and…we didn’t have a much-needed noise machine. Well, they had one, but it got fried after 30 seconds (higher voltage here). Our solution? We set a radio on at a ‘fuzzy’ station and turned up the volume! Worked superb! So, if you see us with a radio up north, don’t think we’re news addicts, it’s just our noise machine! 🙂

    • Lora says:

      I forgot to mention tissues and water…. Sounds like you have everything under control over there! I also thought later I should have mentioned having electrical outlets free for charging phones etc and for curling irons and blow dryers.

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