Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tips for Making Overnight Guests Feel Welcome

By Karen Ehman

Although we've never had company live with us for an extended period of time, we have had our fair share of overnight guests. Todd's parents have always lived nearly three hours from us and have come to stay several times a year. We have missionary friends and college buddies who also spend the night with us. And then there are our kids' friends! Each month of the year finds us hosting an assortment of sleepy-eyed teenage girls or bright-eyed and bushy-tailed boys up at the crack of dawn ready to go pester squirrels with their BB guns. Yep, hospitality means sometimes guests spend the night. Here are some Do's and Don'ts to remember when hosting overnight callers:
  • Decide where they will keep their things, even if there isn't space in the room where they will sleep. Show them the spot and make sure others respect their personal space and property.
  • Have a pleasant place for them to lay their head for the night. It doesn't have to be a real guest bedroom. At our old house, company slept on a hand-me-down pull-out sofa we had in our unfinished basement. We purchased a new slipcover for it and made sure it was outfitted with warm, flannel sheets as the room was sometimes chilly. We found a dresser at a yard sale that they could use to put their things in. We painted the walls white to lighten the room and would set out a bouquet of fresh flowers or leave chocolates on their pillows like a real inn would
  • Stock their room with needed items. A lamp for evening reading, a mirror for getting ready, and a working alarm clock are the basics.
  • Show them the bathroom. Have a space cleared on the counter or in a cabinet for them to place their toiletries. Roll a few wash cloths and tie with a ribbon. Place them on top of the bath towel they will use. Fill a small basket with other items they might possibly need: soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, lotion, etc. Look for these items in special scents and trial sizes. Or if a hotel says you can take them, then by all means, bring them home!
  • Let them know the laundry facilities are available to them. Check each day to see if they need anything washed and dried or ironed.
  • Have a pitcher of water and glasses in their room. Have the refrigerator well stocked with juices, spritzers, or teas for them to enjoy if they are thirsty.
  • Consider placing a basket of fruit or shortbread cookies and chocolates in their room. Tailor it to their liking. Include anything that says, "Welcome! We were thinking of you!"
  • If a coffee lover will be staying with you and you don't drink coffee, consider purchasing a small coffeemaker that they can use in their room.
  • Let them know your schedule and be aware of theirs. Discuss breakfast the night before.

  • Let them know when supper will be served and make sure it works in their schedule.
  • Before they come, discuss dietary restrictions.
  • Pet- and child-proof your guest's room. They will appreciate the protection it will provide their belongings. Also, before arrival, find out if your guests have pet allergies. Rid your place of pet hair and try to keep your animal away from them as much as you can.
  • Let them know if there are any quirks to how things work at your house. Does the hot water take a while to run? Does the front door lock need a little push to the right in order to open?
  • If you can't always be home when they will be returning, give them a spare house key.
  • Treat them like both guests and part of the family. People feel uneasy if you seem to be begrudgingly putting life on hold just to entertain them. As a rule, go about your daily routine, but make them a part of it.

Karen Ehman is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaking team and a columnist for the Hearts at Home monthly magazine. She has her own weekly radio spot on the WCIC family of radio stations in central Illinois entitled "The Keep It Simple Woman." Karen is the author of four women's books including "A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others" and "The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized." She is a graduate of Spring Arbor University with a B.A. in Social Science and has been married for over 20 years to her best friend Todd. She is the mother of three children: Mackenzie 16, Mitchell 12 and Spencer 9.

Proverbs 31 is pleased to offer Karen Ehman's book "The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized"