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.
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;
Food and Beverage
Linen and Bathroom
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Linen Bedding and Bathroom
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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