December 22, 2009

Tip of the day

Many of you will be hosting overnight guests this holiday season.  Here are a few hospitality tips I’ve learned over the years:

  • Give your guests space.  They may not want to be entertained the entire time they are at your home.  Give them time alone.  On their nightstand, place a few books or periodicals that you think they might like.
  • Stay in the guest room before your guests if possible.  This will give you a better sense of what to include in the room.  In the middle of the night did you stub your toe because there wasn’t a night light?  Did you reach for a box of tissues only to find that it was empty?  Did you need a lamp on the nightstand for reading?
  • The bed--Always have clean sheets.  Have an extra blanket or quilt so that they can layer their blankets if needed.  Have an extra pillow or two so that they can choose what type of pillow (firm, soft, feather, etc). 
  • If you have a shared bathroom, put a few extra towels in their bedroom.  They may not want to look through your cabinets to find towels.
  • Either in their bathroom or somewhere in their room, place some extra toiletries.  Couponers could potentially place a crate of extra toiletries that we’ve “purchased” for free, but don’t go overboard.  A toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant and lotion make a good combination. 
  • Make sure there is a trashcan available in the room for their use.
  • If you have a shared television or one in their room, include a few general instructions on how to turn it on or how to use the DVD player.
  • Be upfront.  If you do not allow smoking in your home, set up a spot outdoors where they can smoke. 
  • Don’t have a guest bedroom?  No worries.  Add some of the same touches to the pull out couch, futon, or even some nice sheets on the couch. 
  • The extras—I’ve found that a nice bouquet of flowers adds an extra touch to the room.  In colder weather, an evergreen bough or swag of magnolia leaves looks nice.  Adding a water pitcher, a few bottles of water, or a small coffeemaker in the room is a special touch.  Or, go the 5 star hotel route, and add some chocolates to their pillows. 


  • Offering an assortment of things that will hold allows your guests to have breakfast when they are ready.  Boiled eggs, pastries, fruit, lox and bagels, juices—these seem luxurious and people can enjoy them when they are hungry and ready to eat.
  • If you know when your guests are ready for breakfast, make ahead foods like strata, quiches, and breakfast parfaits mean that you are visiting with your guests instead of slaving away in the kitchen.


Most importantly, do not be so stressed about being the perfect hostess that you forget to be in the moment.  The real blessing is that you have guests who want to spend time with you.  Don’t miss out on that connection because you are worried about every little detail.

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