Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Good Host

I am fortunate enough to have a guest room and guest bathroom for company. If this were not the case I don't think I would have guests. When I asked my friends what makes a good host one said that the guest bathroom they were using wasn't clean enough. So that's the first rule of having guests--clean your house if you want guests to return. 

Lion at Merlion Park in Singapore

Have a coffee pot. If you use a press because only one or two people in your house drink coffee, then have a coffee pot for company. You don't want to jump up every time someone wants a refill. Coffee pots are cheap and you can store yours in the garage like we have done, only taking it out when we have guests. 

My husband and I get up early in the morning and guests tend to sleep later so we get some quiet time alone before everybody wakes up. I am not one for talking in the morning for the most part. I just want to read Penelope Trunk and Gretchin Rubin, drink my coffee, and enjoy the lack of conversation. I worry that this makes me seem grumpy or unwelcoming, but I have to remind myself that I have no idea what my guests thinks about my being silent in the morning and they may like it. Is three hours of near silence too long? Don't think I just ignore everyone. I don't. I respond to questions but I am not offering up any new topics until after breakfast around 9 am or so. Until then my Mac gets all my love. 

Have a loose meal plan. Breakfast is always easy because we buy cereal, have homemade granola and fruit. I put all possible cereal and fruit options on the counter and let my guests prepare their bowls to help themselves unless we're making something like homemade pancakes or fruity broatmeal (oatmeal and barley). So that's taken care of. And then in the morning my husband and I have a discussion about what we'll do for lunch and dinner. We go day-by-day depending on what we're doing. But you have to decide if you're the kind of host who will prepare every meal for your guests or show them where everything is and let them prepare it. Usually I only have guests for 2-3 days so I prepare everything, buy all the groceries, and plan meals down to each snack. For longer stays I have learned that this isn't possible and it's better enable ([shudder] almost wrote empower) guests by showing them where everything is so they can eat breakfast when they want and eat what they want. 

Provide basic information. Lifehacker covers some of these things. Give guests your wifi password almost immediately when they walk in the door and show them where they can charge their devices. It seems to obvious to talk about clean towels so make sure there is air freshener in the bathroom they will use. We have a switch for the bathrooms that turns on the hot water, but we forgot to tell my mom so she took cold showers for three days. 

Explain your home's quirks. Luckily we live in a hot and humid environment so this wasn't horrible, but she's a trooper. Are their locks or handles in your house that are weird? If you are in a different country are you providing electrical converters? Does your shower work in an unconventional manner that will force your guests to use a million gallons of water waiting for water to get hot? Is there a step in your home where everyone trips? Did you provide a nightlight? Don't forget these little things. If you're doing airbnb check out liability coverage. 

Decide how much of your house your guests should see. Growing up I had a friend whose mom had not a junk drawer or junk closet but a junk room, The Office, used for holding gifts, wrapping paper, and everything else that didn't have a home. She was ashamed at having such a room and yelled whenever she found us searching for craft supplies in The Office. I am somewhat minimalist and I followed the KonMarie method a couple of months back for folding, purging and organizing, though I am still slacking on thanking my handbag as I put it in my closet at the end of the day. My guests can look in any drawer or closet because they are tidy. Not alphabetized soup can neat and tidy but organized. So I will say "look in the middle drawer of the console" for scissors because I don't care if they see the inside of any drawers or cupboards. 

But maybe they don't want to search. In that case leave the air freshener out on the bathroom sink. My friend provides sample sizes of shampoos, lotions, and razors in a guest basket so guests don't feel like they are opening private closets and medicine cabinets to find something. She is such good host she provides slippers so guests don't have to be barefoot. She has reading lamps on the nightstand that you don't have to get up and turn off from the main switch, which is especially useful for guests still reading books and not using the Kindle app for reading books and as a nightlight in a pinch.

Don't forget down time. Our guest room bed is also incredibly comfortable, which I think is a good start. Guests not getting a good night's sleep is a recipe for disaster. With a separate guest room and a comfortable bed it makes nap time a no-brainer and gives the host and guests some time to rest. If my guests are not nappers then my naps allows them time to read, take a walk, check email or social media or just be. My guests like to read on our deck and enjoy the afternoon breezes, maybe sipping a glass of wine or researching something they would like to see another day. It's a good time to catch up on conversation or just be together without talking. It's important to not schedule everything so tightly that there is no down time. 



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