There’s an art form to being a great hostess. Guests can feel awkward and uncomfortable when visiting. Your space is not their space, and as a result, they may not know where to go or how to behave. If you want to earn a reputation as a great hostess and keep your guests coming back for more visits, you’ll want to know all about making your guests feel at home. These quick, easy tips can make the visit more comfortable for both of you.
Give Them Freedom to Come and Go
Sometimes, guests come just to visit us in particular. Other times, they use our home as a landing base as they visit the area in which we live. If your guests are there for the latter reason, make it easy for them to come and go without feeling like they need to check in with you. Offer them a house key—or just leave it on their bed in the guest room—so that they can let themselves in if they come back when you’re not home or when you’re in bed.
Provide Easy-Access Toiletries
At a minimum, all guests expect towels and washcloths so that they can take a shower at your place. If you want to go above and beyond as a hostess, however, you should also consider providing toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and toothpaste. You could even put together a small basket to leave on their dresser with all those necessities. Hand sanitizer, chapstick, unscented hand lotions, allergy medicine, and ibuprofen are also great items to leave handy.
Leaving toiletries in a basket on their dresser, alongside the towels and washcloths, will ensure they have what they need and don’t feel awkward about asking for it. This also ties into the first point: If they don’t have to wait for you to wake up to ask where towels are for their shower, they’ll feel more able to come and go as they please. As an added benefit to you, they’re less likely to rifle through your stuff if you provide what they need out in the open.
Keep it Clean
It should go without saying, but a comfortable guest bedroom is a clean guest bedroom. Dust and vacuum a few days before your guests arrive. Crack the windows to air the space out, and keep the door closed, especially if you have any pets. This ensures that their room is as clean and fresh as possible when they arrive.
You should also make sure to change the sheets between guests. If you have guests a lot, you can ask one set of guests to take their sheets off when they leave and put a new set on, which can save you time.
Give a Kitchen Tour
When your guests first arrive, take them through your kitchen and show where the basics—plates, cuts, silverware—reside. Let them know if it’s okay to help themselves to the contents of your fridge or cupboards, and let them know about any out-of-bounds food you may have (the expensive diet foods that they may think are just snacks, for example). Again, this will make it easier for them to move around and see to their own needs while also taking some stress out of the hosting situation.
Explain Your Electronics
Between DVRs, DVDs, consoles, and any number of various streaming sites, every home is a little different when it comes to getting to the content you want to watch on TV. Don’t assume that your guests know exactly how your collection of remotes and streaming services work together. Instead, take a minute to explain which remotes go to which devices and what you have—cable, Netflix, Hulu, etc.—for them to choose from.
Buy a Few Special Foods
If you’re having guests, it can be nice to stock your fridge with a few foods you know they like, even if they aren’t foods that you usually purchase. Maybe they eat a certain cereal every morning, or they like a certain soda. Ask them their preferences ahead of time. You don’t have to stock your home with everything they’d have in their own cupboards, but keeping a few of the things they consider staples on hand can be a nice touch.
Believe it or not, setting clear boundaries in your home won’t make you seem imposing or weird. There’s little more uncomfortable than being in someone’s house and wondering if it’s okay to watch TV in their living room after they go to bed or if they expect you to go to bed as well. Being upfront about what you’re okay with—and what you’re not okay with—will, in the long term, make everyone feel more comfortable.
Your guest’s room should have some form of entertainment in it. In many homes, that’s a TV, but it can also come in the form of magazines, books, puzzles, or notebooks to journal in. The important thing is that if your guest needs some quiet time to be alone, they have something to do in their room. It can even be nice to offer a few options, in case Great-Aunt Sally isn’t a huge fan of television and would prefer to read while, a month from now, Cousin Joe would much prefer to kick back and watch the ball game.
Ask Them What They Want
The final—and perhaps most important—step to making your guests feel comfortable is to ask them what would make them feel comfortable. Perhaps they’ll tell you they need a fan to sleep at night or that they’d prefer a few extra pillows on their bed. Guests may not realize until they arrive at your home what it is that they miss about their own home, but if you ask if they need anything, they may feel willing to tell you.
Being a great hostess isn’t as hard as it sounds. The best thing you can do is consider what would make you comfortable if you were visiting someone else. Put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and understand that visiting an unfamiliar home can be just as awkward and uncomfortable as hosting visitors. Then, give yourself—and them—some grace and some space. You’ll enjoy each other’s company all the more for doing so.