We prepare for guests by anticipating their needs and desires. Tips can feel overwhelming because it’s a lot of information but know that it’s not about perfection, it’s about thoughtfulness. The most seasoned hostess is still always learning. She is merely willing to notice a person’s needs and willing to serve them during the stay. The goal is to serve others out of reverence for Christ. Never feel like you need it all figured out to be a good hostess but also be willing to do your best out of love. These 10 tips will help you build on a solid foundation of good guest preparedness. Aside from reflecting on what you have needed as a guest before, here are some details to think through for your guest preparation. Many things will not only help your guests but will help you as the hostess to avoid problems, burn out, or embarrassment.
Guests never want to ask for toilet paper or a plunger. I am sliding the plunger in with the paper products as a vital tip!
Many people stock paper products but they don’t stock the bulk of them for the guest in the guest quarters and rarely do they stock enough. Putting a few rolls of toilet paper on the back of the toilet is not giving a guest enough. If someone has a bathroom issue, it could go a lot faster. Never assume how much they will use. Save your guests embarrassment of having to ask for more. Buy a huge pack and provide as many rolls as you can fit in a spot for them to see in the bathroom and you can even stock the rest under the bathroom cabinet, or on shelves as extras. I use a decorative bin or basket and pile them in. This is a reassuring amount to a guest and the fact that they can see it. It saves me from having to constantly check the guest bathroom to see if I need to restock their toilet paper.
Consider the value of offering high quality toilet paper. Tissue paper thinness and rough texture is unpleasant. It is a small detail and a higher expense item, but guests are not an everyday occurrence, so I try to up the comforts since they’re away from their comfort zone.
Other paper products to offer are rolls of paper towels beneath the bathroom sink. Don’t assume one roll is enough, give them a few to clean up any potential mess. Stock a good all-purpose cleaner in their bathroom too.
Stock feminine products in a discreet but obvious way for someone who is looking for them. I do not have drawers so I place them beneath the bathroom sink in a basket toward the front.
Stock tissue in the bathroom as well as the bedroom so they have at least two boxes.
It is a gracious gesture to stock a guest bathroom with various shower and bath products in case someone forgot something or one of their items spilled in their suitcase, or if they run out of what they brought.
I stock a high-quality body lotion, a sensitive skin body wash, a basic bar of soap, two different kinds of shampoo (a dandruff shampoo & a moisturizing shampoo), and a conditioner. I also stock extra razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste. You can stock travel size versions of different products to offer variation, just buy enough of them because little bottles run out quickly. This is why I stock large bottles of a couple different kinds.
You can add to your stocks anything else you think a guest might need such as mouth wash, floss, or makeup wipes or a specific face wash. I keep a bottle (with a pump) of olive oil in the guest bathroom as a makeup remover and skin moisturizer for this purpose and my guests know what it is and use it.
Since we’re in the bathroom, let’s address the scent issue. Have options for your guests to eliminate odors. I advise against wall plug ins since they put out a lot of scent all the time. Guests want the option for de-odorizing the room, they don’t want to be subjected to a lot of perfume all of the time. Perfumed products bother some people. This is why it is best to offer the items for them to use if they want them. I display an obvious room spray product, a candle and matches. You can also opt for a preemptive product like “poo pouri“.
Every bed should have at least two sets of sheets for it, one set that is on the bed, and an extra set. Keep the second set of sheets in the guest bedroom for the guests. This allows them to change their sheets in case of an emergency in the middle of the night or it just gives them the option to freshen their bedding. Always keep the mattress covered in a waterproof mattress cover underneath everything. It will save your mattress from sweat and bodily fluids seeping into it, stains, odors, and it keeps things sanitary for everyone.
Always provide extra blankets in the guest bedroom. Not just in a linen closet somewhere down the hall. In the middle of the night, they need an extra blanket right there. Whether you keep it folded on the end of the bed, roll it in a basket nearby, or fold it on the bedside table or dresser, keep an extra blanket or two in an obvious location.
They should have two bath towels, two hand towels, and two wash cloths per person. Display one set on the hooks/towels bars you have in the bathroom, ready for use and the second set should be folded in sight. Display folded bath towels, hand towels, and wash cloths in their bathroom or bedroom. Towels can be displayed on bathroom shelving, the bathroom countertop, the side of a bathtub, on the end of the bed, on the top of the dresser, etc. Find the spot that says, “this is an extra set of towels to use”. This is a fun one because it looks very hotel to set them out like this!
This is a big one. People need to sleep well for happy dispositions and good visiting. Not to mention, older guests usually have pain that is better or worse from their sleeping situation. My solution to guests needing completely opposite things in a mattress is to use a firm mattress and an extra soft topper. When the guests who want a firm mattress visit, the topper is stored away. When the guests who need a soft mattress visit, I put the topper on the bed.
As for pillows, offer four bed pillows. Two firm and two very soft. The guest will have what they need with these options. Avoid gel pillows and feather pillows. Gel pillows are a very specific preference and feather pillows can cause allergy issues.
Dedicate a guest bedroom as a guest bedroom if you can. I have minimal storage in my current house, so I intentionally infused storage in other rooms so that the guest bedroom stays empty for guests. Keep the guest closet empty, keep the drawers of the guest dresser empty. Keep under the bed empty. Firstly, this makes a guest feel like they have a relaxing room of their own. When you put a guest in a room crowded with a bunch of things that are being stored it can make them feel like they are staying in your storage room. It’s not a good feeling. It feels and looks cramped and there’s not enough space for their own items.
Empty space in a guest bedroom is valuable for a guest to store suitcases, handbags and shopping bags of goods they may acquire while visiting. A guest will fill in empty spaces with their belongings so account for needing empty space in the guest bedroom – don’t fill every tabletop or corner with decor either! Leave empty space for the guest to fill it out.
Buy nice matching hangers for the guest closet. Keep a hamper or laundry bag in the closet for dirty laundry.
Consider the lighting. This is very important in the cozy factor of your house in general but also in the guest’s bedroom. A guest will need enough light to read their book at night in bed, but you do not want to use such a bright bulb that the room does not feel or look cozy at night. But too dim of bulbs and they won’t be able to see enough. I like to use “soft” bulbs in bedrooms. Anything else looks too blue and bright. Keep in mind that the color of the lampshade will affect how dim or bright the bulb appears. You may need to go less or more lumens depending on the shade color.
Every guest window should be adorned with blackout curtains so they can control the amount of light in the room when they sleep. Blinds are not enough to block out even a full moon. Blackout curtains are an essential not just for sleeping at night but being able to take a nap during the day!
Stock the guest bedroom with at least one flashlight for emergencies.
Plug in a nightlight in the guest bathroom and perhaps even a hallway outside of their door so they can see where they are walking at night.
Purchase some long burning candles to burn in the evening for ambiance in the living room. Have candles to light at dinner time. Candles make the evening feel clam and beautiful. You can buy nontoxic candles such as beeswax candles to avoid chemicals that could irritate people.
This is a big deal. Some people run hot, some run cold. Some are visiting from hot climates and think it’s freezing where they are staying, some are from cold climates and they’re too hot in your house. Especially as people age the temperature and weather really affects them. Before your guests travel, be sure to tell them at what temperature you keep your house. As the hostess, communicate – again – communicate with your guests!
One way you can serve your guests as the hostess is to help them know what to pack. You are the expert on the environment they are about to visit. Tell them the temperature of the house and what the weather might be doing during their stay. Then suggest certain items like rain boots over fashion boots, or sneakers instead of sandals, etc. It might seem like babysitting a bit, but it will save you from hearing a guest complaining the entire time because they did not pack an appropriate wardrobe. And it will save that person the discomfort! So tell them the weather, the house temperature, and then suggest specific clothing items so that they understand what they need there.
Provide the means for a guest to either get warm or cool off. My guest bedroom has a ceiling fan but if you do not have a ceiling fan, consider putting a small fan in their room. Many people breathe and sleep better in circulating air at night in anyway, not just because they’re too warm.
Consider offering a small space heater for warmth.
It is vital to have a first aid kit and a medicine kit in the house at all times and it is no exception for guests! Keep a variety of bandaids to larger bandages, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, Neosporin, a thermometer, activated charcoal, antacids, pain relievers of various kinds, and aspirin. I always have baking soda to make a baking soda water drink to soothe a sick stomach. Also stock an electric heating pad for cramps and be sure you have some bags of veggies or fruit in the freezer to put on injuries as well. Keep extra rag towels near your medical kit for any clean up issues. This should cover the bases of anything from upset stomach, bonks, wounds, and heartburn, to addressing a heart attack or stroke issue before EMTs arrive. Always be prepared.
Stock easy to grab makings at the ready. Make sure you know what foods your guests like or can eat and stock them. Then communicate what you expect your guests to do or not do in your kitchen. They will not know unless you tell them.
I expect guests to make their own breakfasts, lunches and help themselves to snacks. I make the dinners. I show my guests the sandwich makings, chips, cookies, homemade items, breads, fruits, yogurts, cheese, cereals, oatmeal, eggs etc. and tell them to help themselves as they need to eat.
Stock a coffee and tea bar and communicate anything to guests about how to use your coffee maker.
If you stock a wet bar, be sure to place the corkscrew in an obvious location for the bottles.
Stock non-alcoholic beverages for anyone wanting to abstain. This is why I stock sparkling mineral water and juices.
No one should ever feel like they can’t access food or drinks and as the hostess, there is no way you can sustain feeding everyone every meal every day. Your responsibility is to keep the goods stocked and to invite people to get what they need, and then plan for the meals you want to make for them. I pre-make certain items for the taking such as hard-boiled eggs, egg salad, dips, cakes and cookies, etc. But I do not do the cooking for every meal of every day. But I do stock a lot of food! Give your guests the autonomy to help themselves, most people appreciate that freedom, and it frees you up as well.