As I grow older, there is very little that I’d rather do than be home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no hermit. I DO get out and about very regularly. But at my core, I am a nester and I am at my best in my own space. Even though our family is very busy and somewhat over-programmed (much like the average household), I spend a great deal of time ensuring that our home is comfortable not only for us but for any guests who might cross our threshold. If I know you’re coming and have a favorite type of cookie, you can expect a dozen at least. Love hydrangea? There will be clusters on your nightstand. Perhaps it’s the southern hospitality gene that abides so deeply within my being that has me take preparing for our guests so seriously; it is an art.
Though my mother is a great hostess (Hey Mama!), most everything that I know about accommodating overnight guests has been refined over the past few years by visiting my dear friend, Monica. The consummate hostess, Monica leaves no stone unturned when you visit their home. She’s curated a certain level of warmth using color, decor (think including lots of pictures of family and friends and a cadre of fleur de lis, which represent her Louisiana roots) and that which can not be bought, a welcoming spirit. When you walk into Monica and her husband, Robby’s Maryland home, you want to put your luggage away quickly, grab a glass of wine, take to their family room or deck and exhale. Ahhhhhhhhh.
Since their home is one of the very few places in this world where I can truly relax, here are a few tips from the Chez Monica and Robby experience when preparing for your guests:
1. Make your guests feel at home. Life is stressful enough. Invite them to leave their cares at the door. Hugs and handshakes are NOT optional.
2. Ascertain any dietary needs/allergies and shop for food and beverages in advance.
3. Your guests may be weary from travel and need to decompress. Unless there are extenuating circumstances or other arrangements, plan for a simple dinner at home on Day 1 of their visit; you can plan logistics of all other activities with them when they have settled.
4. Create a list for your guests that includes the location of your laundry area/supplies, household wi-fi passwords and any tips that might help them navigate the commons areas of your home easily.
5. Fashion your guest bedroom with the best mattress (layered mattress pads do wonders if you are on a budget), pillows and linens that you can afford. Add one blanket to the bed. Place at least one extra blanket and pair of pillows in a neat closet should your guest need more.
6. Keep and regularly replenish an inventory of white, hotel-quality face, hand and bath towels. Plush bath linens are such a nice touch.
7. Hang two laundry bags and two robes on the back of the guest bedroom door.
8. Situate fresh flowers, a water pitcher and glasses on the nightstand.
9. A handwritten note that welcomes your guest and placed on the nightstand is always a lovely touch.
10. Prepare a bedside goody basket that includes snacks for late night munchies and a few fresh magazines/ local attractions brochures. Make certain there is good light for reading.
What extra measures are you careful to take when hosting friends and family overnight?
Shameeka Ayers is an Atlanta-based lifestyle blogger and author who dispenses entertaining, shelter and food & wine anecdotes and advice via her alter ego, The Broke Socialite. She also produces a national tour of curated dessert-tasting experiences, Sugar Coma Events™. Her first novella, Instantly: How Quickly I Realized I Hate My Job will be released in Summer 2012.