How to Make Guests Feel Welcome at Home (AND a GREAT giveaway!)
I was not raised in a family that had guests. Growing up in an apartment in New York City meant that any house guest went from being lovely and charming to a bit of a burden overnight. Sofa beds need to be closed every morning or else no one can get into the living room, guests clothes are always everywhere because there was never a closet for them to unload their things. So as a result of having a home that was off limits as a child, my apartment now is a revolving door. I love having guests! Even though my apartment is not much bigger than the one that I grew up in, I still love the little bit of chaos that a guest brings. For me it is a welcome change of pace.
With my last house guest, an English professor friend of ours from Syracuse New York, I got to thinking, what are the bells and whistles that we could all easily, and affordably, provide a guest to make them feel right at home in our homes?
Luckily the folks at some of the shows that I contribute to semi regularly, Al Despertar on Univision, which I tape entirely in Spanish, and BetterTV loved the idea and wanted me to come into the studio to show them the goods. Here are some of my top make guests cozy in your home ideas, and make opening your home to friends and family stress free for you, and them!
– It all starts with a great bed
It is music to my ears when an overnight guest says they slept like a baby! Make sure that you have a good sized comfortable bed for your guest room. A too-short sofa bed or foam pad justwon’t do it and don’t give your guest the oldest, most saggy mattress you have. If you can’tafford a new or good used bed, think about getting a quality air mattress, I use one in one in my guest room and my double height air mattress is always a hit. They’re really quite comfortable and can be placed on top of a box spring, over a sofa bed mattress, or on the ﬂoor.
No need to over pillow, 4 pillows along with 2–3 decorative ones should be more than enough. It is a pet peeve of mine to have to throw 20 pillows off the bed before bedtime. Make sure that you stock the bed with just enough pillows for sleeping and propping up the head while reading.
–Whether the Weather be Hot
Everybody like to sleep a certain way in bed, some people like to be toasty warm, others get too hot at night and like things light and airy. Because of this its important to outﬁt your bed with both light and heavy blankets.
– Fresh Linens
Always have an extra set of bed and bath linens available for your guests. Accidents DO happen!They’ll feel especially welcome and it’s an easy thing to do. Don’t pull out your family leftovers if you don’t have to. Clean comfortable bed linens in soft neutral colors are a must.
–Throw in the Towel
Here is another way to pamper guests –with soft, ﬂuffy towels, providing each with a 1- bath towel, 1- hand towel and 1- washcloth. You can embroider guest towels with your monogram or a single word like “Welcome” or “Guest.”
Choose a color for guest towels that is different from your family’s everyday towels.This way, guests will know which towels are theirs in a shared bathroom.
Fold and bundle towel sets with wide ribbon.
If you have multiple guests over at once, a quick and easy idea is to sew on colored loops to the corner of each towel, that way when they are hung from a robe hook each guest know which towel belongs to them!
– A Place to Set Down a Suitcase
Creating a space for guests to set a suitcase really makes them feel comfortable. You can purchase a luggage rack, or use a small table or a bench in the room so guests can rest their suitcase on it. No one likes to have to stoop over to the ﬂoor to pull out a clean pair of socks. Even a chair is better than nothing! Another option is to designate a large bath towel for guests to place on the bed before they put their luggage on it.
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– Let their be Appliances
If you don’t have an extra iron and ironing board to offer, be sure to tell your guest where they can ﬁnd yours, and a hair dryer for guests always makes a nice addition!
–You can Ring My Bell
I love having a lighted clock next to my bed. An alarm clock or clock/radio is even better. Having an alarm clock on the nightstand is a nice touch, a radio in the room is great so that your guest can enjoy some music before going to sleep or when waking up.
Keep a water glass and carafe ﬁlled with fresh water by your guest’s bedside table.
– Toiletry Basket
Set out essentials and little luxuries in a basket. Fill a basket with all of those mini toiletries from hotel stays such as shampoo, conditioner, lotions, tissues, toothpaste, razors and a fresh toothbrush.
– Hanging Clothes Storage
Clear at least a foot or two of pole space in the closet. Or purchase an inexpensive over-the- door hook that can accommodate some hanging clothes. Don’t forget a supply of 6 or 8 hangers. A simple hook on the wall or behind a closet door can hold a robe, coat, or a purse.
– Drawer Space
If you have an extra chest of drawers, that’s great! But at least clear out one or two drawers for small items. Both you and your guest will feel better with odds and ends out of sight.
– Provide Privacy
Choose window coverings that not only add to the character of the room, but provide privacy andlight control, as well. A set of nice blinds work great!
–A Place to Read and Relax
Place an upholstered armchair and ottoman or side chair in the room with a table and lamp close by. Some people don’t like to sit on beds and your guests shouldn’t have to! You may not want to be entertaining your guest all the time they’re with you, and it’s important that they feel they have someplace to get away for a little private relaxing time.
– Good Lighting
It’s always nice to have a light control near the bed, so your guest won’t have to stumble aroundin the dark, just to turn a light on. If nothing else, provide a good reading light near a chair or over the bed. Another ﬁxture or lamp near the desk would be great. A small night light is helpful and a lighted magnifying make-up mirror is a real luxury.
– Local Tourist Info
If your guests will be going around town without you, they’ll appreciate area maps, brochures on the hot spots, taxi phone numbers, bus/train schedules and directions to your home. Make a list of the best shopping areas, museums, parks, and your favorite restaurants. Mark special locations on the maps with highlighter pens. You can print out directions from major roadways and laminate them or place all the items in a three ring binder with sheet protectors, you won’t have to re-gather everything when another guest arrives.
–A Place to Work
If you’ve got the space, a small desk and chair is a great addition to any guest room. In the drawers make sure you provide paper and pens or pencils, scissors, tape and tissue. I love to provide local post cards or stationary for my guests with postage!
– High Tech
If your home is wired, great! If not, provide a phone cord or cable connection to hook up acomputer, or if you have a wireless network, write your network name and password on a card for them to use to log on. Many people travel with laptop computers and love to do work or check e-mail when away from home.
– Snack And Be Merry
House guests get “the munchies” in the evening, just like everyone else. Place wrapped snacks, fresh fruit or cookies and a bottle of water in the guest room. When your guests are up late at night reading the book you left for them, they’ll be able to put together a tasty snack without sneaking down to your kitchen.
– Entertainment Center, anyone?
A TV in the guest room is a great luxury. Add a DVD player and some of your favorite movies. Don’t forget to place the remote control near the bed so they don’t have to get out of bed to turn them off.
– A cozy robe and slippers will make moving around easier.
With limited space in a suitcase, a robe is the ﬁrst thing to be left at home. But moving through your home from bath to bedroom can be tricky without a cover-up. A kimono style works well for both men and women. Washable slippers are an added plus for those who don’t like to walk around barefoot.
Putting a small hamper or basket in the corner is a great way for guests to separate their dirty clothes from their clean ones. And a robe hook on the back of the door ensures that there is always a place to put wet towels.
– In Case of Emergency
Post important phone numbers so your guests can see them. Include the house phone number, your cell phone number and emergency contacts.
–Add Some Welcoming Touches
Leave your guests a personalized welcome note with pertinent information they may need and place a framed picture of you and your guests in their room, for a personal touch.
– Finishing Touches
Add a few ﬁnishing touches such as fresh ﬂowers, a scented candle, and a small dish of chocolates, candies or mints.
–Turn Down at Night
To make guests feel extra special, turn down their bed in the evening, dim the lights and light a candle.
When you start to plan your guest room, think about what you’d expect to ﬁnd in a 5-star hotel
and try to make your room measure up! You can do this on any budget, trust me. A little creativity
and attention can go a long way!
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