After COVID has kept us all apart for so long, I’m thrilled to be able to host friends and family in my home once again. Two weeks ago, my sister and her family of four flew in from Wisconsin to spend a week with us. We haven’t seen them all for over two years and awaited their arrival with much anticipation. Not only would they be our first overnight guests since COVID, they would be the first to stay in the new house.
While nobody understands a less-than-perfect house like your own family, I still wanted them to have a four-star experience. We ended up doing so much traveling and sightseeing that we were hardly here, but I’m still glad I made every effort to prep our home base to be a comfortable spot to land.
As we begin to fumble out of our lonely caves and embrace friends and family outside our bubble, here are some tips to get your house ready to welcome guests, both overnight and otherwise.
1. Deep clean as a family
While in relative isolation mode, our family got used to a certain level of clean that ignored the dust bunnies (and random toys and … crackers) under the bed. We used the upcoming event as an excuse to rally the troops to clear every surface, wash the windows and clean out the car. Give kids achievable and specific tasks. Consider it an opportunity to also set expectations for summer chores.
2. Stock up on snacks
For overnight visitors, inquire about their favorite food and drink and stock the fridge and pantry. Show them where everything is and encourage them to help themselves. In anticipation of impromptu guests, have a stockade of cool beverages and cocktail-hour snacks at the ready. We keep an icy cooler out back stocked with summer beer and sparkling water for pop-ins from neighbors and friends.
3. Plan the menu
Depending on how long the stay is, grab all of the groceries you’ll need ahead of time, so you don’t have to stop the fun to go to the store. Use guests’ dietary restrictions as a chance to try out new recipes. Leave room in the itinerary to enjoy dining at or ordering take-out from your favorite local eateries. And if a group overnight stay at a different destination is on the schedule, don’t forget to plan out where you’ll shop for groceries or potentially eat out. We learned this the hard way on a two-night stay in Long Beach and ended up wasting a lot of time foraging for food.
4. Prep the guest bath
Make sure there are plenty of clean towels and washcloths. Provide a hamper for dirty laundry. Point out where you keep the extra toilet paper and the plunger to avoid any potentially embarrassing moments. I also placed sundries like dental floss, toothpaste, bandaids, earplugs and mouthwash on a little tray, just in case. Put new bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the shower. All of this can be found in the travel toiletries aisle on your next Target run.
5. Add hotel-like touches
In the guest room, fresh sheets and clear surfaces say welcome. Make sure you’ve got window coverings that allow for privacy and sleeping in. Set out a tray with bottled water and pre-packaged snacks. If you don’t have any empty dresser drawers, a bench to set up an open suitcase will suffice. No guest closet? Empty hangers on some over-the-door hooks work just as well. These kinds of touches don’t cost much but go a long way to make your guests feel comfortable.
Betsy Kornelis is a local decorator. Find her at paisleyandpine.com.