You want to be the perfect overnight host for visiting family and friends. “Perfect,” in the context of hosting people in your home, simply means thoughtful preparation within your means.
The perfect overnight host treats their guests with the same attention to needs they themselves would appreciate. It’s really that simple. If your guests were looking for The Ritz treatment, they’d stay there.
You don’t have to fill all your rooms with fresh flowers and mints or buy 1,000 thread-count sheets. If you live like Oprah and can do that, great. But your family and friends know how you really live. And all they really want is for you to graciously share what you have. Just like you could ask of them.
When you’re the guest and not the host, read The Ultimate Guide To Being The Perfect Houseguest.
By hosting others, you fulfill the Biblical exhortation to show hospitality and model it for your children. So here’s what to do to be the “perfect” overnight host:
Give your visitor’s space a touch-up cleaning. Vacuum the floor, dust the furniture, clean the toilet, sink, shower and empty wastebasket. Everyone appreciates a clean place to sleep and bathe.
Plan meals and grocery shop according to your expectations for the visit. Find out if there are any allergies or dietary restrictions to consider.
If your guests are bringing a young child, childproof your home. Remove precious breakables, cover sharp corners, and secure hazardous chemicals.
Your Guest Space
Bedding: If you have a guest room, put clean sheets on the bed and freshen the quilt/comforter and decorative pillows (wash or dryer fluff) to make sure they’re not dusty. Set an extra blanket on the end of the bed or chair. If your guests are sleeping on a couch or air mattress, set clean sheets and blankets in a handy place and help them make the bed the first night.
Provide a clean towel and washcloth. I recommend keeping a nice, fluffy set of towels just for guests’ use.
Make space available for clothing or luggage. Clear a bit of closet space and provide hangers for hanging clothes. Empty a few drawers in a bureau or provide a luggage rack or bench to set a suitcase on – which is kind to a guest’s back.
Ensure your guest can see when it’s dark. Check light bulbs in overhead light or lamp and provide a nightlight so they can see their way to the bathroom.
Have a bedside outlet available for charging a cell phone.
Provide your wifi password. You can print and frame a small (4”X6”) graphic of the password and keep it handy to set out when guests arrive.
Collect hotel or travel-size toiletries and pain relievers in a pretty jar. Everyone forgets or runs out of these.
Educate Your Guest
If you have a roaming pet, introduce your guests to it and advise them of any issues.
Make sure guests know how to work the shower, television, and laundry appliances. If you have a house alarm, make sure they’re aware of it.
Let guests know where they can find extra toilet paper.
If parking is an issue, let your guest know what’s available.
If you and your guest will be going separate ways, advise them of your schedule. Consider providing them an extra key to your home so they can come and go as they need.
If your guests have downtime and are looking for entertainment, provide suggestions of local attractions.
Make sure your home smells nice, but not over-powering. A subtly scented candle or room diffuser is nice.
Have a bowl of snacks and coffee/tea service on a kitchen counter and cold drinks in the fridge.
A unisex bathrobe is a handy thing to have. If guests have traveled by airplane, they likely didn’t use valuable space to pack one. Although you love your guest, you probably want to leave a little mystery between you.
Put cards, board games, and puzzles out. They’re great, non-electronic entertainment for at-home evenings.
If guests are to “make themselves to home” in your kitchen, it’s super-helpful to have a small map of your cabinet contents. Laminate it on an index card and leave it on the counter or held on the fridge with a magnet.
It’s often the case that we host others in our homes for a holiday or event (wedding, funeral, graduation, etc.) And because preparations for these other events can distract from preparations for guests, here’s a free download & print checklist to help you mind the details. I printed mine and laminated it for reuse with a washable marker.
See, being the perfect overnight host isn’t an impossible achievement. All it takes is thoughtful consideration and preparation.