Growing up, we never had overnight guests. All of my family lived in our area…all of them…on both my mom and dad’s side…so we never had out of town or overnight company that I can recall. So, when I got married, hosting overnight company was something really new to me.
The first year Andrew and I were married, we lived in Detroit away from both sides of our family, so we had a lot of overnight guests…and then the 9 years after that, we have lived in the Dallas area near my family but all of his family is in Missouri…so, I have had to learn the art of overnight guests.
With the holiday season approaching, I thought we could all share our best tips and tricks for overnight guests today. I’m sure you guys have some great ideas for entertaining and hosting people overnight in your homes and I would love to hear about it!
Here are my little tips (most of which learned by reading Good Housekeeping, Southern Living and plain old trial and error!)…
In the 10 years since we’ve been married, we have hosted overnight guests in our one bedroom/one bath apartment (guests would sleep on the sofa and/or air mattress), in a small two bedroom apartment, in a house full of kids’ bedrooms (when there are cribs instead of beds, it makes hosting adults difficult) and now in our new house, we finally have a guest bedroom…that for now, accommodates our out of town family.
Tip #1: Lots of layers
I like to give my guests a lot of layers on their bed (or give them a variety of blankets if they’re sleeping on the couch). There is nothing worse than sleeping when you’re too hot or too cold, so I offer them a lot of layers and several pillow choices. On our bed now, I have two blankets and a comforter along with 4 pillow (2 soft and 2 firm). I also keep additional blankets in the closet and make sure they know they can use those as well.
Tip #2: Bedside table necessities
I like to have a lamp near the bed along with a clock too. I also like to have a place where they can sit a drink or whatnot. Andrew’s parents are always drinking coffee or water, so I want to have a place for them to sit that stuff while they read or watch TV.
Tip #3: Offer reading material
I try and keep current magazines in my guest room that they might enjoy reading. You could also leave a few novels and/or current local newspapers. When we visit Andrew’s parents, she always has my favorite magazines and catalogs for me to read and I really appreciate it!
Tip #4: Offer storage
Over the years, offering my guests storage for their things has changed dramatically. When we lived in Detroit, I cleared out space for them in our tiny laundry area…it gave them a little space and was more private for them then giving them space in our closet. When we had guests in our other house, we cleared out space in one of the kids’ closets and the coat closet…just enough space to allow for them to hang a few things and move stuff out of the way. Thankfully, our guests have plenty of room now for their things. And as you can see here, this is also where I keep our extra blankets for them to use.
Tip #5: Give them enough bathroom supplies
Whether they have their own bathroom or they’re sharing with you, I think it’s nice if you give them (or show them) their bathroom supplies (that way, they don’t feel like they’re using the wrong things). I keep bath towels, hand towels, and wash cloths out for guest along with extra toilet paper, soap, an extra razor and hair dryer. I also usually try and give my guests a color towel that we don’t use…that way, there is no confusion to which is theirs and with is ours (if you’re hanging towels near each other to dry, no one will get confused).
Tip #6: Leave them with something special
I always leave my overnight guests a little something special to take home…and it truly is something little…but just something for them. In this instance, I left my mother-in-law a few Bath and Body Works products that she could use during her stay but then also take home. Sometimes, I’ve left people a candle or a package of cookies…you know, just something small for them to enjoy.
Over the last decade, I’ve picked up a few other tips as well…
I always try and have a little something for breakfast that my guests can enjoy along with something sweet for dessert. I prefer breakfast casseroles and muffins for breakfast because I can prepare them in advance before my guests arrive. And for something sweet, a bundt cake, bar or cookie (again, something that can be made in advance and kept out while they stay) is ideal.
8: Alone Time
When I’m a guest at someone’s house, I often enjoy a little alone time or down time, so I make sure and give my guests the same option. I guess my tip is that you don’t need to feel like you have to “babysit” your guests during their entire stay. They might enjoy some alone time to read, take a walk, go get coffee or such by themselves.
9: Baby Supplies
Before we had kids, Andrew’s brother and his wife came to visit with their baby…and I wanted to be able to provide a few baby supplies for them (they were flying and I didn’t want them to have to bring a ton of stuff). Since we didn’t have children, I called a family at my church with kids and asked if I could borrow their pack and play and a portable highchair. I really think this made everyone’s weekend easier because they had a spot to put the baby for sleeping and napping along with a way to contain him for meals…and they didn’t have to fly with any of it.
10: Saying no
You guys know I’m the queen of saying no sometimes. I’ve blogged about it here. There have been several times when we’ve simply had to tell people that it’s just not a good time to have out of town guests…or that if they do need to come, they need to stay in a hotel and not our home during this particular trip. For whatever the reason, sometimes, it just doesn’t work to have overnight guests and I really don’t think you should ever feel bad about saying no to them. When you have people stay in your home, you want them to have a really good experience and to feel welcome…and sometimes, it’s just not a good time to have people over…and you can’t provide them with the hospitality they deserve, so it’s better to say no than to have them over and not feel welcome.
I would love to hear your tips and suggestions for overnight guests! Even if they’re really simple and small, I would love to know what you do to make the experience great for both your guest and yourself!! Please comment below!
And if you’re making supper for your guests (or just your family), you should make my yummy Brown Sugar Brisket! So good!!