Thursday, 12 July 2012

Preparing for guests

Sorry for the quietness recently, we've just had a busy for days over here at pass the caffeine. One of the items on the agenda has been having a friend to stay for a few days. So I thought I would share what I do in preparation for house guests.

Now Martha has a nice long list of things that should be done for a successful house-visit. The list is long, and in my opinion expensive (I mean I don't mind providing some things, but buying a radio and desk just for a guest is a little excessive surely, not to mention our little spare room doesn't have space for a desk). So here is my 'get read for house guests' list.

1. Clean house. Obvious I know, but do all the little things that normally get missed, such as dusting the top of doors and cleaning the windows in the spare room (especially if it has a pretty view!). I will upload a cleaning list later in the week (fingers crossed!).

2. Provide toiletry essentials. I'm sure I am not alone in having lots of useless toiletries which I absolutely intend to use but just never seem to. Well put them to good use and provide a little welcome basket with all the essentials, so your guest won't have to ask if they've forgotten to include something in their bags. I always make sure there is shampoo, conditioner (use the small ones you bring back from holiday), hand soap, hand cream, Q-tips, cotton wood pads/balls, shower gel and toothpaste. My Mum goes even further and provides slippers! My budget doesn't go that far though!

Follow Martha's advice at

3. Make the bed up and provide plenty of towels. This is obvious, but I'm sure most of us have made the mistake of not getting it done in time, and it is the worst feeling watching someone insist on making a bed for you! So plan. Make up the bed a week before if necessary. Spray a linen spray over the bed so it smells divine and add those cushions until you are blue in the face. After all, how often does your own bedroom stay that pretty for more than 5 minutes? As for the towels, maybe I'm fussy but it drives me nuts if I go somewhere and provided with one skimpy towel even though I know there are technically many more available. I'm a wimp, so I never ask. As far as possible I try and provide one large bathsheet, one small bath towel, a hand towel and a face cloth for each guest. I only have the supplies to do this for two guests, then I run out of towels, but I only have one spare bed.

4. Flowers. I always try and pick some flowers from the garden for the bedroom (unless the guest has hayfever). This time it was some lovely pink roses that were getting battered by the terrible weather we've been having and rotting before they were opening. So i picked them 5 days early, still in the bud-stage, and by the time my friend turned up they were all open.

5. Open the windows then turn on the heating. Open the windows to exchange the air, particularly if you don't use the room very often. If it is winter, only leave them open for half an hour, making sure you keep the room door shut so all the heat doesn't escape from the rest of the house. Unless you have a nice new-build with decent insulation it is worth turning the heating on even in summer, for an hour or so. Our house is several hundred years old and the stone walls are not very forgiving. I turned the heating on just for an hour the day before and it just lifted the temperature in the room slightly and made it feel more lived in.

6. Meal plan. Now I would love to say that I did this all the time. But that would be lying. However, when you have guests its a little bit embarrassing to advocate going to the takeaway because you forgot to go shopping. So plan what you will eat. If you don't know your guests really well double check allergies/dislikes and plan your meals around that. I have a friend I stay with maybe once a year and she always give me something with mushrooms in (they make me sick) and pretty much every meal has dairy in it so Mr PTC can't eat it. It isn't difficult to get these things right if you just think about it in advance. Also keep in a relevant stash of snacks and drinks that you think your guests might like.

7. Think pets. If your guests aren't really 'pet people' think about how to manage this. Restrict your pets movements to certain rooms while you have your guests, or consider how to train your pets to not jump up at people. I keep our spare room cat-fur free by not letting the cats in there ever. This also means (theoretically) that the cats know they shouldn't go in there when the door is left open by guests (except we currently have a kitten who hasn't learnt the rules yet). Check your litter try more often - yes we should all do this every single time the cat uses the tray, but come on, sometimes its not convenient. Make an extra effort for guests who might not be able to cope with the smell quite as well as you! Ahem. OK this makes me sound like someone who never cleans out the litter tray, but we have a kitten who uses it 30 times a day, and sometimes I just want to finish making dinner! I'm not that bad. Honestly!

8. Give a drinks tour. I hate being in a house where I feel I have to ask for every single beverage… I feel like such an imposition and I always go home seriously dehydrated. However, no one likes to poke around and be out of place in a house because they can't find what they need. Take the time once your guests have arrived to show them where the cups, coffee, tea and soft drinks stash are and make it clear they are welcome to help themselves. However, you will inevitably come across people who just won't take the initiative and will only drink what you provide…. while I love some of these people, it is sometimes quite exhausting!

9. Get the essentials in. If you know your guest only eats Fruit & Fibre cereal, or will only take skimmed milk and you buy semi, go that extra mile and get those extras in. It won't cost much but will make your guest feel more at ease. Oh and make sure you provide sugar for the tea and coffee (this is one I always forget being living in a household that doesn't take sugar in drinks). 

10. The little extras. I always like to make sure there is a cake, or a batch of cookies made specially for the guests arrival. Just because I can… 

Most of this is common sense… but it helps to have a list. If you have other ideas I'd love to hear them!

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