Planning for house guests


Here in Aotearoa, New Zealand we have just had Easter and school holidays. For my northern hemisphere readers, summer holiday season is upon them and many of us are looking forward to having family and friends to stay. After the initial excitement of looking forward to seeing family and friends, comes the panic of realising what you need to do to get the house ready for guests. I suspect that most of us have little time to do this and can therefore quickly become overwhelmed. My wonderful brother, sis in law , niece and nephew came to stay for a week over the Easter holiday and I needed to prepare our home for their stay. So I thought that this is the perfect opportunity to take you through how I plan, what I do, things to consider, helped by a check list and other tips to help you when preparing for house guests.

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Have a plan

The first thing that I do when I know we have guests coming is to create a plan. I work out what I need to do and what time I have got to get these things done. I find doing a bit at a time really helps to reduce the “panic” of needing to get everything sorted at the past minute. My plan generally covers off these main topics;

  1. Food and Beverage

  2. Meal planning

  3. Cleaning

  4. Linen and Bathroom

  5. Gifts

  6. Information

Under each of these I have a list of things that I need to cover off , so this essentially becomes my “to do list”. My next step is to plan out in my home planner the days during the week that I need to get these things done.

Now that you have an overall plan, let me take you through the six areas that I work off in my plan.


Food and Beverages

This is all about making sure that you have got the sorts of pantry and fridge supplies needed for your guests. Rather than just stocking up with your usual supplies try and think about your guests and what they may like to eat. e.g breakfast cereals, favourite teas and how they have their coffee. If you have a family visiting think about snacks and fruit for the kiddies. For my niece and nephews visit I made sure that I had snacks in the pantry, and in the fridge I have a tray of apples and yoghurt that they could just grab.

Don’t forget the adults too, if you have a cocktail cabinet make sure it’s fully stocked and that for the Craft beer lover that there is some nice cold ones in the fridge ready for their arrival.

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A really nice touch and a very economical option is to do some baking. A fresh batch of cookies always goes down a treat with everyone. This could be a great way to have foods specific to festive seasons such as Christmas or Easter time.

Lastly don’t forget the essentials such as milk, bread and spreads , have plenty of these supplies to ensure that you don’t run out.

Meal planning

This may seem a bit silly however if your guests are staying more than a couple of nights, then a meal plan is a great idea. Firstly it means that you don’t need to worry about what to cook and gives more time in the day to have time with your guests. As with the food and beverage supplies, think about your guests and what sort of meals they would like. When my Mumma comes and stay she loves hot spicy food so our meals are planned to that. However with my brother and family it was much more good old family meals, like Lasagne.

Make sure that you also think about which nights you might go out, i.e if you have a celebration dinner to attend, and plan that in.

Displaying the meal plan can be a good idea, I just use my weekly meal planner board for this, it can actually be really helpful to discover if someone is not too keen on a certain meal., as illustrated by a funny story from my niece. Only being 6 she immediately notice the meal plan board and checked out the meal we have planned for their stay. She asked if we could swap a meal around because she didn’t like Bacon and Egg pie (which was on list) , so cute.

Once you have the meal plan, you can just shop to that, so much easier than guessing what to cook each night.

If you are interested in learning more about meal planning, just check out my meal planning for beginner post, just click on the pic below.

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CLEAning

The challenge with cleaning in preparation for guests is the timing, as you really need to do it just before they arrive. It’s likely that you will not have a lot of time so just do the important areas, like the guest bedroom and bathroom. If you have time do a quick clean up in the living area and kitchen. One of the quickest and easy tricks to making a home look and feel clean is the entrance area. I would suggest making sure that you have cleared away all the clutter and give the area a quick clean. If you can, create a space where the guests have a place for their jackets and bags etc. Also if you have a no shoes in the house rule , then make sure that they have a place for their shoes and that you provide some type of house shoes/slippers. As an example I got my guests house socks and put these into their gift basket.

Other things to remember when cleaning;

  • Replace the hand towel in the bathrooms with fresh clean ones

  • Clean the taps and the toilet seat, especially underneath

  • Stock up the toilet paper

  • Fill up the soap dispensers

  • Clean the bathroom mirrors

  • Change the shower curtain, or at least wash it

The last and the best trick of all when it comes to a clean house is the scents you use in your home. Walking into a home with a beautiful scent in the air with makes it feel clean and inviting regardless of how clean it really is.

I am personally a huge fan of essential oils and love using these to create gorgeous scents around the house.

In the guest bedroom I use a small jute bag full of cotton balls on which I place some drops of lavender. I place these discreetly near the bedhead area, not only providing a lovely scent but enabling a great sleep. I also place some drops of lemongrass in the tube of the toilet paper, this gets absorbed through the toilet paper.

One thing I do want to mention is zone cleaning or having a cleaning routine. If you have a regular, consistent cycle of cleaning it actually means that you generally always have a clean house so you don’t need to really every do a big “clean” . This really helps when having guest because all you need to do is a quick tidy up and you are done.

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Linen, BED and Bathroom

So tell me…. Do you like getting into a bed with clean fresh white sheets? Yes I thought so, and why is that? Because it makes you feel like you are in a hotel! Therefore great bedding and linen really makes your guest feel like they staying in luxury. It you don’t have specific linen and bedding for guests beds, then at least make sure that you have fresh, clean sheets on the bed.

It’s good to have extra blankets or throws in the room, especially if it’s autumn or winter. And in the warmer seasons, provide a fan.

Another lovely touch in the bedrooms is to have some nice dressing gowns and slippers. These can be placed with guest towels on the corner of the bed for their arrival.

I am fortunate that we have guest rooms that are not used other than for guests so I can make sure these are ready earlier. However if you are using bedrooms that have to be made up, I’d suggest getting as much as you can ready so when you have to make up the beds etc you have everything ready.

As an example, we had a single mattress that used to be housed under my sons bed. We would use this for any guests and it could be placed in any spare space at the time. To make things easier for this, I had all the linen & bedding for that single mattress all ready to go and in its own place in the cupboard. This meant that when we got the mattress out all I needed to do was grab the linen & bedding and make up the bed. This would only take me 5 mins or so.

Onto the guest bathroom, I’d recommend having full set of towels as well, including a hand towel and face cloth. I also like to ensure that there are supplies for the guests for oral, hair and skin care. And lets not forget a wee medicine stash for those morning headaches from one too many celebration drinks. You don’t need to go over the top, just have the basics. Maybe display them nicely, to bring a bit of luxury into the bathroom.

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Gifts

Just to clarify at this point, that it is not necessary to provide gifts to every guest you have, a simple gesture of snacks and bottled water in their room is plenty.

However if you are having close friends or family you may want to go a bit extra to make their visit special. Here are some ideas;

  • A bottle of bubbles with nice wine glasses and candles on a tray

  • Basket with cozy house socks and a selection of new magazines (try and get a topic that they like)

  • Books, fun stationery, puzzles for kids

  • Fun slippers

  • Seasonal gifts - e.g Easter eggs , Christmas cookies

I recently had my niece and nephew (6 & 10) staying over easter time. I got them a small basket each and filled it up with a few fun things;

  • Mug with hot chocolate sachet

  • Easter Bunny (Chocolate)

  • Books to read

  • Travel Diary (as they were doing a road trip)

  • Pens and stickers

  • Head phones

  • Cute wee house socks

As they were travelling on a road trip I knew that they could take their basket of goodies with them. So when thinking of gifts consider how they are travelling. Often it would be best to provide a gift that they will use during their stay so don’t need to take it with them, food is the obvious choice for that.

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Information

Lastly and probably most importantly, is useful information that your guest will need. The most obvious is the Wifi password, it’s like to be asked for fairly soon after arrival, so have it somewhere visible, e.g typed up inside a picture frame.

If they are likely to be using the TV and other electronic equipment make sure that you have the instructions available, e.g How To guides. Also think to include washing machine instructions , especially if they are staying for a wee while.

A good idea would be to make up a folder with brochures of local attractions and activities as well as eateries.

Local public transport information is also great to have, timetables and even a travel card could be useful. Information on the local supermarket is handy and think about having a reward card available.


To wrap up and some FREE help

I have tried to cover of all that I can think of in relation to preparation for house guests, and a lot of the time there is no need to do all of the above, however it’s helpful as a guide and can form your “to do list”. As I mentioned initially, the sanity saver in terms of preparation is to plan, even if you only have short notice of a guests arrival you can still plan. To help you with the preparation I have developed a check list for you , which is FREE to access below and covers of all the six areas above;

  • Food and Beverage

  • Meal planning

  • Cleaning

  • Linen Bedding and Bathroom

  • Gifts

  • Information

FREE check list

Your ulimate "to do" list to get ready for house guests

     

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    Thanks so much for coming by and I hope that you have found this information really useful. I’d love to hear about any preparation tips and gifts ideas that you have in preparation for your house guests.

    Happy Hosting and may you be the Hostest with the Mostest!!!

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    How to clean ceiling fans with Baking soda & Vinegar

    So our renovations started in early December 2017 and I naively thought that after all the months of planning we could just sit back and let the builder and tradies do their thing and I could finally relax...well what was I thinking! The list of to do's just keep going and a lot of small things that we just didn't think of, like removing and cleaning the ceiling fans because the ceiling was being skimmed. So this post takes you through how Pete and I set about cleaning these very filthy things. And because we try to avoid chemical cleaners we only used baking soda and vinegar and they came up a treat. 

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    Equipment 

    This is just the list of things that we used and I would recommend having if you are going to do the same.

    • Toothbrush

    • Lid or small bowl

    • Bucket

    • Light dishwashing liquid soap

    • Old rags or cleaning cloths

    • Water and Vinegar spray ( see my general cleaner recipe)

    • Ladder

    • Screwdriver

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    Preparation 

    This is a bit like stating the obvious, however I do need to point out that you need to take the ceiling fan down from the ceiling!. Make sure that you use a ladder, safely, and turn off the power supply as well. You don't want to chop your head off by accidentally setting off the fan while removing it. 

    Most ceiling fans can be disassembled by simply unscrewing the screws. We just removed each fan from the centre mechanism. Pete removed the metal cap that went over the motor so we could clean it easier. In the end we had the ceiling fan broken into six parts;

    • 4 fans

    • Central mechanism

    • Metal cap

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    Then it was just a matter of getting stuck in and cleaning!

    Cleaning

    Firstly we filled up the bucket with warm soapy water, light dishwash liquid. We use Ecostore dishwashing liquid

    Then I mixed up a paste of baking soda and my general cleaner. I just used the baking soda jar lid. You could use a small bowl instead.

    I took each piece and sprayed them first with my general cleaner, then took my toothbrush and used it to spread the "paste" around. Using the toothbrush as a scrubber I was able to scrub all the surfaces and the difficult to get to areas. Pete used the bucket with soapy water to clean off after scrubbing and then simply wiped the surfaces down with a dry clean cloth. Some of the surfaces needed a bit of extra elbow grease (a good hard scrub). Pete and I were really pleased with how well they came up! Almost new looking. 

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    The cleaning did not change the slight yellowing of the paint and surface, that is simply an age issue, however by being sparkling clean they looked so much better.

    All we had to do was to ensure they dried off well and reassemble the parts, and Bob's your Uncle! it's all done.

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    A couple of pointers, as the ceiling fans were of an older type, each fan had a centre cane laminate. To clean this I did just as described above, however I made sure that I used a nice soft toothbrush. This meant that there was no damage to the laminate.

    So there you have it, a simple and effective, non chemical way to clean your ceiling fans.

    If you want to get more ideas and resources on cleaning in the home just check out my Pinterest page and don't forget to follow me so you can see all the latest information that I add.

    Well that's it my friends, just short and simply post this time but hopefully of some use and maybe its got you inspired to go clean whatever it is that you have been saying "oh I must clean that sometime" 

    Take care and stay safe my friends

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    How I created my awesome cleaning kit and homemade cleaners

    I expect that it's no surprise to my readers, and anyone looking at my site, that I am a bit of a cleaning freak. This, I blame on my first part time job while at High school. It was for a couple who owned a motel, which had a lot of fishing boat workers stay, a port town you see. So you can imagine the state the rooms would get in. Mrs Owner was a very particular cleaner and taught me how to really clean....."it's all about the detail my dear".  However we always had an arsenal of high powered cleaning products so that's what I learnt to use. It was not really until about 12 months ago that I awoke to the toxic elements in my cleaners!!!. That had to change!

     

    My Cleaners

    General purpose cleaner, Jiff , window cleaner, toilet cleaner, and shower cleaner were the products that I used. Therefore I needed to look at replacing all of these, and I wanted to make them myself. After a bit of online research I had my cleaners all sorted.......actually it was really simple all I needed was two ingredients, Baking Soda and Vinegar. You can essentially clean everything with these two ingredients. I sourced my ingredients from Figgy & Co to make up my cleaning products:

    • General Cleaner / Figgy Disinfect Spray- 1/3 Vinegar to 2/3 water

    • Scourer / Figgy Cleaning paste- Baking soda in a jar with drops of Lavender Essential Oil

    • Tap cleaner - Water with Tea tree Oil

    • Deodoriser Spray - Water with Lavender Oil

    • Toilet Cleaner - Figgy Toilet Cleaning powder

    • Polishing oil - CO Products

    I use the general cleaner for all surfaces including mirror and glass, also it's my floor cleaner. It is very effective, just spray it on the surface, but don`t over apply, wait for a few seconds (which apparently you should do with all cleaners) and just wipe off. I use a damp or dry cloth, just depends on the situation. As an example every night after tea I have a kitchen cleaning routine where I just use my general cleaner and a damp cloth to clean all the surfaces, sink, microwave, hob area, fridge and coffee machine. Then for glass and mirrors I use a dry cloth with the general cleaner.

    The scourer I use for scrubbing the kitchen sink, showers and bathroom sinks once a week.  I sprinkle it over the area then spray the general cleaner on it a bit as the Vinegar in it helps "activate" it. Then just get a scrubbing brush and scrub away. It's not hard work with a brush and only takes a couple of minutes. The tap cleaner is used on....you guessed it the taps. I just spray on after cleaning the sinks and surfaces then use the toothbrush to get into joins etc on the taps. You see this is all about the details here folks!!! 

    I also use the Deodoriser spray for scent and not as a cleaner. So I only use it after all the surfaces are cleaned. I tend to only use on desk and table tops as it leaves a lovely smell.

    My two products that I buy are the toilet cleaner and Polishing Oil.  I use the polishing oil once a month on my wooden furniture as it provides moisture and seems to reduce the dust build up. It has linseed oil in it which is why it's so good. Also as a handy hint it is great on stainless steel. I have used it for years on all stainless surfaces in the kitchen, including the fridge, it's great and it's cheap and you can get it at any supermarket and online at CO Products.

    Now I only essentially use two products made from two ingredients which I buy from Figgy & Co online. OMG the savings. I can not believe how much you save. 

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    There some great natural cleaners that you can buy if you don`t want to make your own. I would look at Eco Store . They have great cleaning products that are made here in NZ and are certainly chemical free and have a lot less impact on the environment. They have a great Website and online shop.           

    Also check out Figgy & Co fantastic products made by two talented women and made here in NZ too, they are a newer company so would appreciate the support and they are also online. Plus they have a free recipe booklet that you can get to make your own products...fab really.     

    My tools

    All good tradies have great tools. I am still perfecting mine, well mainly the scrubbing brush as I am still to find a good one and not a cheap plastic number!  The tools I find really helpful are toothbrushes, good scrubbing brush and window wiper. I came across this great idea of using toothbrushes from a Youtube channel, At Home with Nikki. These are great for cleaning in those hard to reach places. 

     

    Facecloths are my cleaning rag of choice, these are easily reused over and over again. I just soak mine in Eco Store stain remover and hot water before throwing them in the wash. 

    For my windows, inside and out, I simply use a bucket of warm water, a cloth (old cotton tea towel) and the window wiper. No streaks, just beautiful clear and clean windows. 

    Another couple of helpful tools are Blind cleaner and Lint roller. These I do get from the $2 shops however they are reusable so not too wasteful. The Blind cleaner is essential if you have venetian blinds, just pop them in the wash afterwards and good to go again. The Lint roller is perfect for getting dust off surfaces like Lamp shades, duvets, decorative pillows, also really helpful when ironing (well that's if anyone Irons anymore?) It's certainly better than wrapping inside out cellotape around your fingers.

     

    Lastly in my kit I have a couple of reusable microfiber cloths that attach to a duster and a floor cleaner. This is all I use to clean the floors and dust weekly, quick and easy.

    My Caddy

    A one stop shop was essential for my kit. I wanted a container that I was able to pick up and take around the house.  It actually took me a while to find one, I did not think it would be such a hard job. I eventually found one big enough to store what I needed and easy to take with me. This one at Bunnings is similar to what I have, again it's not expensive. 

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    As a final note I do try and make my cleaning kit "pretty", what I mean by that is to coordinate my colours in my products and tools. I know that sounds stupid but let's face it cleaning is a job we all avoid. So why not make it more enjoyable, by having a kit that is nice to look at, you never know, it might make you a bit more motivated.

    I would love to hear what's in your kit, have you got any Grandma remedies that work wonders? 

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