EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 18, 2012

Preparing for those overnight guests over the holidays

By Roneisha Mullen Toledo Blade
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — The holidays are coming — and so are the overnight guests.

Hosting may not be your favorite thing to do, and no matter how much you may dread doing spring cleaning in the winter to prepare for overnighters, you want your visitors to feel welcome and comfortable in your home.

Creating space for guests involves more than providing a comfortable place to sleep. It’s an opportunity to make people feel welcome and ensure that their time spent with you is memorable, says Tina Mather Bothe, owner of the Little Purple House Bed and Breakfast in Perrysburg, Ohio.

“It’s more than just changing the bed,” Bothe said. “It’s the little things that count, like fresh flowers or a nice fluffy robe.”

Most guests won’t expect you to roll out the red carpet if it’s not within your means to do so, but you can do a few special things to let them know how happy you are to have them.

Some tips:

1. Prepare the spare bedroom. Do more than just change the sheets. Bothe suggests using your best linens and spraying them with a scented de-stresser to help guests relax. At her place, every guest arrives to fresh flowers and reading materials, including magazines, books and the newspaper. If there isn’t a spare bedroom, offer up your room or an air bed, or prepare the couch with sheets and a blanket. It’s important that visitors have a designated space.

2. Clean out the closet. Just because they’re traveling doesn’t mean your guest should have to live out of a suitcase. Clear out some space in the closet or a few drawers in the dresser. Be sure to leave a few empty hangers. A full-length mirror would also be helpful. If closet and dresser space isn’t available, leave an empty laundry basket so visitors can at least keep their dirty laundry separate from the clean.

3. Childproof the place. If guests are bringing along the little ones, consider putting away valuables that can be lost or easily broken. Find out if the child is a bed-wetter and prepare your furniture before arrival. Ask parents to bring child-proofing items such as cabinet locks and baby gates, or consider borrowing them from a neighbor.

4. Have extra bathroom essentials on hand. There’s always that one person who forgets to pack a toothbrush. Stock the bathroom with new toothbrushes and toothpaste. And cleans towels are a must. After you’ve provided the basic necessities, consider some extra touches, like specialty soaps, shampoo and lotions.

5. Break out Grandma’s china. Using the good china and crystal at dinner or your best linens in the bedroom and bathrooms makes guests feel important.

It also lets visitors know that their stay with you is a special occasion.

6. What’s for dinner? Consider your guests’ food preferences. If one is vegetarian or has food allergies, stock the pantry and refrigerator with options to accommodate his/her needs. Also, show your company where to find snacks and clean dishes and encourage them to help themselves.

7. Provide a warm welcome. Have refreshments or a meal prepared when your guests arrive. Pat Smith, of Temperance, Ohio, likes to use scented candles and fresh-baked cookies or cake to create a warm, welcoming aroma. Another suggestion is a welcome basket for guests filled with personal items or fanciful treats such as chocolates, magazines or puzzles, and other small gifts.

8. Plan activities of interest. Find out your visitors’ plans before they arrive. Check to see if there is anything in particular they’d like to do. Keep in mind events and activities, such as shows, concerts and sporting events, that will take place during your guests’ visit.

9. Say a generous goodbye. Don’t send guests home empty-handed. Parting gifts can be anything from homemade desserts or souvenir refrigerator magnets to T-shirts. Handwritten notes and greeting cards also make good gifts. Whatever the gift, use it as a chance to remind your guests of their visit with you.

Contact RoNeisha Mullen at rmullen@theblade.com.

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.