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Make Space For HouseGuests

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The Holidays are just around the corner and I’m powering up for a season of entertaining and hosting guests. Years ago I took over host duties for both Thanksgiving and Christmas from my mom (a fabulous hostess) and while the cooking and serving are of course the primary focus, a house full of out-of-town family also deserves some thoughtful planning and organizing to ensure everyone enjoys themselves, including me!

If you are expecting house guests for the holidays, take some time this week to execute on the simple organizing strategies I’ve outlined. That way you will be positioned to anticipate their arrival with confidence instead of stress and enjoy their company instead of feeling burdened by it.

Guest Room

I should begin by pointing out that your guests may outnumber guest rooms and if this is the case it’s very important to take stock of your bed linen & pillow supply now, so you have enough to cover any make-shift sleeping arrangements that may be necessary. Taking stock of your linens provides an opportunity to organize them so it’s easier the next time you are expecting guests. These bed linen organizers are the best because they keep a whole set together as well as tidy and don’t take up a lot of room in your linen closet. If you have a little more pace to devote to linens I love to use these felt bins that are easy to access and feel super cozy and season-appropriate.

Okay, back to the guest room itself. Use convenience as a North Star for your preparation activities, in other words everything you place in the room should make it easy for your guests to unwind and make themselves at home in your home. To start, a luggage rack (or two!)  makes it easy  for them to unpack or access their clothes if closet/dresser  space is tight. Next, unless you have an en suite bath for your guest room, place a folded set of towels on top of the dresser or on the bed itself. That way they are not wondering about which towels in the bathroom are assigned to them. On the bed, always provide an extra blanket or two as both temperatures in homes and personal preferences vary.

Other touches for a comfortable guest room include phone charging stations for the nightstands, a small card with Wi-Fi information and perhaps a scented candle (don’t forget matches to light it!)  A Do Not Disturb sign for the door can also be helpful if there is a risk of child-invasion (my kids used to get over-excited and prone to bust into their grandparents’ room without being invited.) 

All of these things can be accomplished well ahead of time. Then the only final day-of flourishes you will need to handle are fresh flowers and a carafe of water. 

Guest Bath

You don’t need a blog post to tell you that providing bathroom necessaries is baseline for hosting guests. Make sure that the bathroom is organized with anything your guests may need (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, contact solution, feminine products, hand and body lotion, hair ties, blow dryer, flat iron, etc.) But there are two extra elements that will elevate your guest bath experience, especially if the bath is being shared with another family member. The first is subtle labeling to cue them to each category (teeth, face, hair, body.) The second is branded bath products (hand soap, body lotion, body wash, shampoo, conditioner.) My favorite brands to outfit a guest bath are Malin+Goetz, Le Labo or L’Occitane. Your guests will feel pampered and attractive when they come out of the bath, like they are in a luxury hotel but better because they are with you!

Guest Breakfast

This one is really important for me to remember because in my family we are not morning coffee drinkers (I know, it’s weird) so it’s important that I have a coffee situation set up and available for my guests.  Over the years I have fallen down on this one so I am now super dialed in and ready with a plan. This includes a pre-visit communication with my guests asking about their morning food and drink preferences – I highly recommend this approach. Morning routines vary widely, it is unlikely that everyone will be rising, eating and drinking at the same time in the morning. Once you’ve done some reconnaissance around your guests’ habits, arrange a station in your kitchen that is obviously the place they go in the morning, usually centered around the place where they get their coffee or tea.  Make tea visible and available, offer pastries or bagels on the covered cake plate, place a card that notes where they can find a creamer (or anything else they would need that is in the fridge.)  By facilitating the ritual of their morning routine you are easing their transition into your home while at the same time relieving yourself of the burden of being a short-order cook and waitress. Plus if you make their morning routine easy and pleasant they’ll have plenty of energy left to help you in the kitchen for the big feast

Having house guests doesn’t have to be stressful. If you take some time to get organized in the weeks prior to their arrival you will be able fully enjoy your time with them. Taking care of your guests ahead of time is taking care of yourself while they are in your home, and a happy hostess is the best kind! 

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