Hosting Houseguests

In the comments to my post on how to be a good houseguest, Angela Johnson suggested I write a post on how to be a good host.

Challenge accepted.

Heading to another state for college and then moving cities and even countries fairly regularly for a number of years have seasoned my skills for hosting overnight guests. For decades, I’ve had friends from all over the globe.

Now, this post assumes you’ve got the basics covered: You’ve cleaned your place and made a hospitable space for your guest. And yes, I say this from experience of the opposite.

That said, you don’t need to swing into host extraordinaire mode, either. My tips cover tricks that you might forget if you don’t host often. You can find many a book and a magazine with ideas for tablescapes and flower arrangements and the like for turning into an uberhost of over-the-top awesomeness. Go to town in that direction, if you’d like.

  • Linens. If they haven’t been washed in a few weeks, even if someone hasn’t slept in them, freshly wash the linens, fluff the pillows, and tidy the bedcovers.
  • Towels. You don’t need a stack of towels for each stay day, but you should have a few stacked in their room or bathroom along with hand towels and washcloths.
  • Toiletries. Ensure the bathroom has toilet paper (with extra rolls visible or easily found). Guests feel awkward asking. Provide a fresh bar of soap or body wash, shampoo and conditioner, and lotion.
  • Room tour. When your guest arrives, help her take her bags to her room or area. Show her the space’s amenities, including important light switches, where to stow her stuff, and how anything tricky works. (No one likes finding the host in the night to ask how to turn off the light.)
  • Home tour. In addition to helping her orient and avoid trouble areas (e.g., turning on this faucet causes a flood, the alarm sounds when you open this door), a home tour provides an opportunity to explain any household rules (e.g., people food negatively affects the dog, remove your shoes upon entry).
  • Flex. Hosting means compromise. If you wake up at 5 a.m. and your guest still slumbers, modify your routine of pounding away on the treadmill while “Good Morning America” blares on the television.
  • Availability. You may need to continue with regularly scheduled work or events while your guest stays in your house. Fair enough. Yet ensure your guest can reach you during the duration of her stay. Part of hosting means availability for your guest’s needs and questions.

What did I miss?