Written by MJ Reporter Willow LaMunyon
Almost everyone has occasional overnight guests. It might be a dear friend, family member, or even someone you desperately want to impress. Sometimes I worry about my hosting skills, so I am careful to plan in an attempt to be a perfect host. In sharing what I do, it might help you to become the ideal host by example to my list or reverse example. Don’t forget that we and our guests are all different so take what you can use and laugh at the rest.
I like to plan ahead, so I check over the room where they will sleep at least a week ahead of time. I put clean sheets on the bed, freshen the room, vacuum the floor, and put an inexpensive gift for my guests on the pillow. Fragrant soaps make good gifts for people you don’t know well. I also make sure there is a clock in the room, a lamp on the nightstand, a dish of candy, and a flashlight. The flashlight is not out of concern for electrical outages but finding their way around a strange house. Feeling for a light switch in the bathroom can be a frustrating chore when a person has no idea that it is on the right side of the door hidden by a hanging hand towel. The flashlight suddenly becomes much appreciated. That reminds me of how to give the guest bathroom that perfect host touch. Think of things people forget to pack, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, deodorant, and such. Also, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion are appreciated. Some of these things are great to save from hotel visits, and others can be purchased in small sizes at the dollar store. Be sure the toothbrushes remain in individual packaging. I keep a collection of those items in a small basket on the bathroom counter for guests. It is an inexpensive and welcome amenity. Be sure to clean your spare bathroom and have plenty of towels and washcloths out.
Plan ahead meals so you can have your dishes in the fridge or freezer ready to heat and eat. That way you will have more time to visit with your company. You don’t have to worry about meal preparation while everyone else is having fun. If you plan on eating out, think about the restaurant ahead of time, so you can make good choices about the price range, especially if you are paying. If everyone is to pay for their own meal, let them know ahead of time so they can budget for it. It might also be wise to ask about the kinds of food they like for cooking or eating out.
When your guests arrive, give them some time to get settled and try to wait at least an hour before planned activities. If you have no special activities, be ready with conversation starters. Surprisingly enough, asking people if they believe in ghosts is a great ice breaker. Even if they say they don’t believe in ghosts, almost everyone has a story about encountering a ghost that they want to tell. Ignore this if your guest has had a recent death in the family for obvious reasons. Avoid politics at all costs unless everyone is in agreement. Don’t be afraid to turn on the TV if conversations become uncomfortable, or there is a lot of awkward silence, and recommend watching a movie together. A visit with one of my sons ended with marathon watching of a series, causing us to stay up very late and having a great time watching TV. Here is a BTW that is important, if the TV is not on for watching, don’t turn it on because it becomes distracting and rude.
When bedtime comes, be sure you have coffee ready to start in the morning and an easy breakfast. Made ahead of time, quiche is impressive and easy. Paper plates, plasticware, and toss-out cups are worthy of having a statue made of them, especially after breakfast. It cleans up fast so you will not be stuck in the kitchen when there are more fun things to do.
There you go. Now you are the perfect host that even the pickiest guests can only praise, and the most welcome guests will be anxious to return. You will have great memories of
the visit since you did most of the work before they arrived and just for a little while relax and pretend there are no cleanup chores at all.
I can almost hear you asking how to be the perfect guest, or possibly it is little voices in my head. Either way, I will save that for next time.