In recent years, we have been blessed to have out-of-town guests. We love the chance to catch up, show them around the city, or to host celebrations. Our family has also been guests of many thoughtful and gracious hosts.
Whether your guests are family or friends, here are 10 simple ways you can help them feel ‘at home’ in your home during their visit.
10 Simple Tips to Help Out-of-Town Guests Feel ‘At Home’ in Your Home
1. Provide bulky items
If your guests have small children or babies, they may require use of bulky items (Pack N Play, car seat, or stroller). If you have an extra or know someone you can borrow extras from, offer! You guests’ sanity and backs will thank you! Be sure to inquire what items they will need ahead of time so everyone knows what IS and IS NOT available. If borrowing, do your best to have everything washed, and setup before they arrive.
Also consider asking if you can swing by the store to pick up bulky items like diapers. On our last trip out-of-town, our hosts picked up diapers and wipes and a few ‘baby’ necessities. We packed just enough diapers and wipes to get us there, saving space in suitcases.
2. Give a tour
One of the best ways to help your guests feel at home right away is to give a quick home tour. Include the entire house, and where your guests will be staying. It is a good idea to show where you’ve hidden extra towels and linens and any quirky things they need to know about your guest bathroom. My 3-year-old son LOVES to give our home tour and proudly parades everyone through the house. Guests think it is cute, and it lets them know where things are so they can start settling in.
3. Provide a ‘extras’ basket
Seems like every time I travel, I forget a simple necessity. We keep a basket of ‘extras’ for guests in the guest bathroom closet. We only take it out when guests are here, and replenish it with fresh stuff after they leave so it is ready to go for next time with minimal effort.
Create a guest ‘extras’ basket:
- Mouthwash and small disposable plastic cups
- Dental Floss
- A NEW loufa
- Body wash (actually not in the basket: include a full size bottle in the shower)
- Travel size shampoo and conditioner
- Body lotion
- 2 travel size deodorants (one men’s, one women’s)
- Travel first aid kit
- Travel tissues
- Travel size lint roller
- Disposable razor
- Nail file
4. Buy grab-and-go snacks and containers
Whether your guests are visiting family and friends, working, or exploring the area, it is a good idea to have some foods and beverages that can be eaten on-the-go. I always set out disposable coffee cups and lids, and let guests know what ‘quick’ foods are in the house.
- granola bars
- bananas or washed fresh fruit
- bagels or cinnamon toast
- cheese sticks
- lunch meat
- cut up veggies and dip
- sparkling water or soda
- bottled water
- disposable coffee cups and lids
5. Accommodate special diets
Do your guests have any food allergies or do they have a special diet need? It is a good idea to ask ahead of time so you can be prepared. Consider things like allergies, lactose intolerance, diabetes or Celiac. For guests with little ones, have some baby and toddler ‘friendly’ food on hand; asking if you can pick up a few of their children’s favorite items can help little ones adjust to new surroundings.
As a general rule when making food for someone with food allergies, save the packaging or set it aside for easy access so they can read the label themselves. Even if you are great at reading food labels, an extra set of eyes is never a bad idea.
6. Give them their own space – and stay out of it
If your house is ‘full’, this can be tricky. BUT, if you plan ahead, it can be done! If you have a guest room, set everything up ahead of time and move items you need to use during the week to other locations. For example, our guest room closet houses our vacuum cleaner and ironing board. I know I may need them while guests are here so I move the ironing board to the laundry room and the vacuum to the entryway closet.
If your guests are staying in one of your children’s rooms, grab a few outfits and their favorite toys so they aren’t likely to wander into the room, or want something in there while your guests are resting. IF you HAVE to go in, try to make it as little as possible.
Do your best to make your the room comfortable, even if it is not a dedicated guest room. Remove as much clutter as you can so they have room to just BE. If using your child’s room as a guest room, consider buying a few nice guest pillows and ‘adult’ bedding during ‘back-to-school’ sales or Home Goods or TJ Max. Use a large plastic storage bin to store loose items and some favorite toys; it makes room for guests, and gives your child access to some of their favorite things they may want to go into the room to get.
Additional guest room items include:
- alarm clock
- extra blankets or pillows
- an extra universal charger for a phone or computer, if you have it
- portable fan (We live in a new housing development and workers begin clunking around at 7 am. A good fan can create some much-needed white noise and drown out sounds of kids and allow guests to cool off if they get warm during the night)
- pass code for wireless internet
- mirror (full length is a bonus!)
- spare key or garage code
- large or bulky items, if needed (Pack N Play, etc.)
7. Offer use of appliances
When guests stay, I make it clear that the washer, dryer, iron, hair dryer and anything else appliance-related is available to use. No one wants to wear dirty or wrinkly clothes, or have wet hair!
8. Work around their schedule
Most travelers have an agenda to accomplish during their visit. They may have special errands, sight-seeing, or appointments for work or with friends. They have made a special effort (and spent money) to come and stay with you, so whenever possible, adjust your schedule to theirs.
- Meals: If they aren’t sure how their schedule will work out ahead of time, pick up a few easy meals that can be made quickly and don’t require a set timeline. I usually grab some lunch meat, chips, fruit and vegetables for lunches, and grab buns for hot dogs, burgers, frozen chicken, and a few easy sides. This way, regardless of their schedule, we have food on hand, or can have freedom to choose to pick up food or eat out.
- Your schedule: If YOU have set appointments, work, kids who nap and/or go to bed early, or other scheduled activities, let your guests know your schedule. Your guests can then CHOOSE to make adjustments, if needed. If you stay home like me, let them know if you can offer use of your car or be available to pick them up or drop them off somewhere. A spare key or the garage code will allow them to come and go as needed.
- Sleep: Do your best to reduce noise during the evening and early morning when your guests are sleeping. Regardless of the purpose of your travel, it is nice to think of any trip as VACATION from home. One perk of vacation is sleeping until YOU are ready to get up. I listen in the morning for my kids so I can quickly bring them downstairs so they don’t wake our guests.
- Events: Don’t schedule anything for your guests. If planning a large event while they are visiting, consult them on the timing of that event. It is not your job to pack their schedule or to pressure them to do what YOU want to do. Too much in too little time can leave everyone exhausted and reduce the amount of time available to have some quality conversations and actually enjoy their visit.
- Expectations: Don’t expect anything from them. Be glad they are here, and be grateful for WHATEVER amount of time (large or small) you have with them.
9. Provide distractions for little ones
If your guests are traveling with kids, a small basket of toys in their room, or in the living area where everyone is visiting can help the parents relax and the child get in some play time. Even better, go for quality time with the kiddos and play with them so the parents can get ready in peace, take a nap, or visit with other adults!
10. Enjoy your time with them
Remember that being a good host isn’t all about food, cleaning, or organizing! While it is great to have a clean house and do nice meals and events, the best thing to do with your guests is RELAX. Enjoy them.
Do what it takes to keep your house from being FILTHY, but feel free to allow a few dust bunnies or crumbs to stay on the floor. Accept help when your company wants to hang in the kitchen with you and help you load the dishwasher. Your friends and family did not come all this way to watch you cook and clean. They came here to spend quality time with you and your family. Plus, if your house is TOO clean, they won’t feel like they can LIVE in it.
No matter how long or short the visit, be grateful for what time you DO have with your guests. Don’t preoccupy your thoughts with when they are leaving or coming back again so you can be present in the moment.
What other tips do you have for hosting guests?