Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tips for Enjoying Overnight Guests, Part 1

I’ve been getting comments about my absence from writing my blog, so I am back at it….thank you for your support of me and my writing!

Today I want to focus on the overnight guests we have in our homes. Through the years we have had LOTS of overnight company – parents, siblings (Ken’s, that is – I’m an only child), cousins, aunts and uncles, neighbors of years past, college roommates and lots of friends. Of course, you know we have kids here a lot overnight. And while we enjoy our kids, they usually crash in the Matt-cave, so some of these things don’t apply to those overnight stays. (Why, oh why, do teenagers want to sleep in the floor and on couches in the Matt-cave when beds are available??) maybe you’ll soon be having company overnight. Maybe it’s your parents, friends from another town, or relatives who have stopped by for the weekend. Overnight guests are a huge stressor for some people. Are you one of the worriers? I mean, do you worry about the house (is it clean enough? where will they sleep?), about the food (what if I make something they hate? what if I really mess up dinner?), and what to do with them (do we entertain them or let them go out on their own?), etc.

The questions go on and on and everyone has some kind of issues, but here are some typical issues we all deal with when having overnight guests.

1. Where will your guests sleep? Do you have a guest room? If you’re like many, a “guest room” may be the family room with a pull-out sofa or even an office or corner of the basement (as I said before, kids and teenagers are especially fond of this one!). And all of these accomodations are fine. Guests don’t expect the Waldorf, just a clean place where they can have some privacy, get some rest and have space for their things. Basically, a few hangers and some space in the closet are all that’s needed. A couple of drawers for anyone staying more than a night or two is really nice, too. If space is at a premium in your house, use one of those over-the-door hangers to create some extra space. If you put a little thought into it and provide some special touches, even that corner in the basement will feel welcoming.

2. If you are concerned about what you will serve, ask early about any food allergies, dislikes or other food-related concerns. Better to know early – preferably before the guests arrive - that your niece has become a vegan this month.

Above all, plan simple meals. Before you even plan on guests, have some dishes that you are comfortable preparing. I’ve read that everyone should have at least one soup they have mastered for just such occasions. I would agree with that and add some additional simple things to master. Why not find an easy casserole or two and some simple desserts, as well? Try new recipes on family first to get an idea of what to expect. Some casseroles and desserts can even be frozen for a month or two. If cooking while guests are in your house stresses you, make the time to prepare as much as you can before they arrive. If your budget allows, you might even treat guests to a local eatery. Sometimes that’s the easiest and most carefree of all meals.

3. If you know in advance that you have overnight company coming, you can plan ahead with cleaning, also. I have found that breaking down big projects into smaller bite-size pieces that I can work on days or even weeks before help me prepare well for company. I break down a huge, overwhelming list into tasks that I can accomplish in chunks of time over a period of days. Knowing that the house is clean and that I just need to touch-up before people come gives me peace of mind.

4. Regarding those last-minute touch-ups:

I believe a clean kitchen is a must. It’s always where everyone gathers in our home and I like it to sparkle. Aside from the kitchen, a quick sweep and vacuum of the rest of the house, dusting if need be, and a good wipe-down of the bathroom with Clorox wipes and Windex and paper towels is usually all that’s needed before guests arrive (if the house is already clean, deep down.).

I keep baskets on hand for quick pick-up of stray items without a current home. Baskets are also a great way to stash newspapers and magazines with a quick sweep of the family room or play room. Kids’ toys, too, can be corralled easily.

Don’t forget the front door (or whatever entrance your guests will use). It’s easily to overlook this area, but the outside is what’s seen first.

5. Of course, what you do with your guests from an entertainment standpoint will vary depending on the personalities of those staying with you. Some want to see all the sights. Fortunately for those of us in northeastern Ohio, there is a lot to see and do. With only being an hour away from Cleveland, we have professional sports teams, theme parks, theatres, museums, lakes and outlet malls. We also have ‘Amish country’ and the Football Hall of Fame, both of which are only half an hour away. There is no shortage of “stuff” to do here for guests on the move!

Other guests just want to visit and relax. For those guests, you might have games and puzzles available, as well as an easily accessible stash of magazines and books. We keep a variety of both in our guest room. A nice quiet place to read the newspaper is what many seem to enjoy most.

These are some of the simple basics to think through when having overnight guests. Probably very little of this is new to you. It’s stuff you already knew, but I think it’s good to know that others sometimes struggle with these issues, too. It’s nice to be reminded that little things are all that’s needed to make your guests’ visits special and memorable - for them and for us.

And more than anything, enjoy your guests. No matter what you did or did not get accomplished on your "to-do" list, try to let it go and visit with your company. They probably won't remember the little things we all stress about, but they will remember how you made them feel. If you're comfortable, your guests will be, too.

I also have a ‘Guest List’ of items I use for overnight guests that I have created over the years and I find it to be very helpful. I will include that list for you soon, as I think you’ll find my list useful for your next overnight company.

Be sure to check out Part 2, The Detailed List for Overnight Guests published on 12/26/09 on this blog. You should also be able to access it via the link below:


Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

Vanessa said...

Thank you! Be sure to check out Part 2, as there are lots more ideas and tips there.
Thanks for writing!