So you’ve just gotten off the phone with a friend or relative who says they’re coming to visit. Maybe the house is a mess, and you’re dreading Aunt Karen’s judgment. Perhaps you’re wondering how you’re going to get everything ready in time. Even when you love the people coming to visit, preparing for houseguests can be immensely stressful.
You want to be a good host, but you’re feeling overwhelmed. That’s normal. The good news is that guests are rarely as concerned as their hosts about the details of their visit — they’re happy just to spend time with you and have somewhere to sleep at night.
With that said, you can do several things ahead of time to make your life easier during their stay. Here are five simple ways you can prepare for houseguests without the stress.
Anticipate Their Needs
Chances are, you’ve been a houseguest at some point in your life. Before your guests arrive, sit down and think about a time you stayed over with someone else. Ask yourself, “What made me feel comfortable, and what was lacking?”
When you analyze your own life experience, you can better anticipate your guest’s needs. For example, if you remember being too cold, you could make sure to set out extra blankets in the guest room. Taking the time to think about your past experiences will often give you the understanding you need to prepare. However, if you need a little more inspiration, you could also use a common houseguest checklist.
Clean the House (a Little)
Before you have guests stay at your house, you’ll want to clean up, especially if any messes have gotten out of control. However, if you’re preparing at the last minute, you won’t have time to clean the whole house. Luckily, you don’t need to clean everything to make your guest feel welcome.
When you start your cleaning, prioritize the rooms your guest will spend the most time in — namely, the bathroom and wherever they’ll be sleeping. You don’t necessarily need to scrub everything until it sparkles. However, clearing out the garbage, providing fresh sheets and clean towels and removing clutter can go a long way.
Make a Welcome Package
Most people forget things from time to time when they travel. To minimize emergency grocery store runs, think about what basic necessities your guest will need, and compile them ahead of time.
Travel-size products make perfect additions to a welcome package. Consider including a toothbrush, mini toothpaste, shampoo, soap, tissues and a small package of pain medication. You might also provide a bottle of water on the nightstand and a little treat, like a candy bar. Your guest will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and you’ll be relieved to know they have what they need.
Brainstorm Activities to Suggest
You probably won’t have to worry about entertaining a houseguest visiting on business. However, some guests may expect you to provide them with things to do. Going out to dinner is reasonable, but how do you entertain guests while you’re working or busy?
To avoid tension, compile a list of activities for your guests before they arrive. Think about your favorite nearby locations, and try to find activities that intersect with your guests’ interests. Could you send them to a local art museum? Would they like that chocolate shop downtown?
You can’t spend every second with your guests, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them have fun. Giving recommendations will help keep visitors entertained and out of your hair.
Set Clear Boundaries
Finally, the best way to prevent conflict when hosting is to establish clear boundaries and discuss them with your guests before they arrive. Setting boundaries is especially useful if you need plenty of privacy or if you’re hosting someone particularly quarrelsome.
When your guests arrive, let them know which rooms are and are not open to them. Decide when you’ll get up in the morning and go to bed at night so that you can set quiet hours. Agree on a shower schedule if you’ll be sharing a bathroom. And of course, don’t feel afraid to make certain conversation topics like politics or religion off-limits for the household if you think it’s necessary.
Preparing for houseguests can feel stressful. However, by following a few simple rules and taking steps to manage tensions, you can get through their trip without a hitch.