Whether it’s your in-laws, your Aunt Sue or your best friend from college, the holidays often mean out-of-town guests. Though Benjamin Franklin famously quipped that both guests and fish stink after three days, if you plan the visit and pay attention to details, you and your guests can enjoy a visit as sweet as the smell of a rose.
Preparation Makes the Difference
Investing a little time before the visit will pay big dividends once your guests arrive. Cassandre Snyder of Cassandre Snyder Events recommends having an extra house key made if your guests will be coming and going on their own. Stacy Doherty, concierge at Errands Etc., adds, “Make sure you research their interests. If they are sports fanatics, look for a local game. Plan a trip to nearby historical sites with a history buff.” Greg Jenkins, owner of Bravo Productions, takes it further by suggesting you think like a concierge. Will your guests need to rent a car? Are there any special events you can share together, or that your guests can enjoy on their own? What about a concert, new restaurant or museum exhibit? Plan ahead, and make reservations or purchase tickets. Jenkins also warns that this is the time to ask about any food allergies or preferences, issues with pets or other health or comfort concerns.
A Welcoming Guest Room
Traveling is tiring, whether by plane or car, so help your visitors unwind with a guest room ready for relaxation. First, cover the basics. Freshen the bed with clean, pretty sheets, and provide extra pillows and blankets. Make space in the closet, or offer a rolling garment rack if closet space is in short supply. Add a crisp, hotel-like touch with a set of matching hangers. Clear out a drawer or two in the dresser, and set an opened suitcase rack at the foot of the bed.
Snyder likes to set out a few chocolates on the nightstand, along with a note of welcome on pretty stationery. Take it further with a fluffy bathrobe hanging in the bathroom, a few magazines or books you think your guests will enjoy by the bed, and a small vase of flowers on the dresser. Set a cool bottle or carafe of water bedside each night. Doherty also recommends printing your guests a list of helpful information, including:
· Wi-Fi password
· Family phone numbers and schedules
· Instructions for the television
· Planned itinerary for their visit
When it comes to the bathroom, make your guests feel at home with basic amenities as well as a few luxuries. Stock the medicine chest with OTC painkillers, antacids and eye drops. Snyder provides items often forgotten by travelers, including a shower cap, cotton swabs and bars of fragrant soap. Set a pretty basket on the bathroom counter, and fill it with travel-size containers of luxurious shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and bath gel or bubbles. Your guests won’t have to keep asking if they find a neatly folded stack of towels and washcloths waiting in the bathroom, along with a blow dryer.
Enjoy the Visit
Once your visitors are settled in, it’s time for the fun to begin! Jenkins says, “Ask your guests about things they would like to do, as well as offer some suggestions of new and exciting experiences that you can share with them. For example, that musical or concert you’ve always wanted to see might be the perfect evening out for everyone. Or try a new restaurant that just opened and critique the experience with your guests.”
But don’t expect to spend every minute with your guests. If their visit is a long one, you probably have work, chores or errands of your own that need attention. Give your guests ideas for sightseeing excursions to local areas of interest, along with driving directions, restaurant recommendations and helpful advice on driving and parking in an unfamiliar community. A little time apart is good for everyone. Jenkins warns, “As host, know your personal and emotional limits. We all have our own routines and whenever you have guests — no matter how close they are to you — there’s nothing like having our own privacy.”
Special Touches Show You Care
Once the basics are in place, take an extra step with a few pampering luxuries to show your guests how glad you are to see them. Ideas from the experts include:
· Have a roaring fire going no matter when they arrive
· Favorite or gourmet teas, coffee and breakfast pastries
· Baskets of fresh fruit, nuts and easy snacks for your guests to grab and go
· Special mugs for your guests to use during their visit, then take home as a remembrance of your hospitality
· Scented candles near the bed
· Lavender aromatherapy spray for the linens
· A bottle of wrinkle-release spray in the guest room, for sprucing up wrinkled clothing
· Reusable aluminum water bottles for sightseeing trips
Remember that the point of the visit is to enjoy each other’s company. You don’t have to be perfect; you just need to be yourself. Take the time to consider your guests’ needs and wants before their arrival, and even a four-day (or longer!) visit will be a sweet treat for everybody.
Are you expecting guests this holiday season? How will you prepare for their visit?