Find a way to create a separate space
Consider giving up your bedroom or a family member’s room to allow your guest to have a place where they can retreat and close the door. You can sleep in a common area, or family members can double up in a room, suggests Robyn Reynolds, owner of Los Angeles-based Organize2Harmonize and president of the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers.
If you can’t offer your bedroom, consider enclosing a common space for your guest, especially if people have to pass through it to reach another room. Reynolds recommends running a cord or rod between opposite walls and hanging a curtain on it to cordon off your sofa and give your guest privacy. You can also purchase a free-standing divider that fans out, which is easier to put away when your guest leaves, says Naeemah Ford Goldson, owner of Atlanta-based Restore Order Professional Organizing and co-founder of the National Association of Black Professional Organizers. And add some fluffy pillows and clean, cozy blankets or throws to make the sofa more comfortable for sleeping.
Consider their background
Take note of your guests’ cultural background and make them feel welcome by acknowledging any related needs and preferences. “They may want to do Zoom church in their room before they come out in the morning, or they may not eat at the same time or eat the same foods that you eat,” says Lyndsey Dianne, blogger and owner of DianneDecor.com. “An American breakfast is very different from what you might eat if you’re Nigerian, so know what you’re offering people.”
Put together a welcome basket
Stock up on water bottles, your guest’s favorite snacks, a phone charger, a scented candle, comfy socks, earplugs and a sleep mask. “Anything that would make it feel a bit more homey for that person,” says Reynolds. “And it could literally be in some sort of basket or container — whatever it is that you may have around the house.”
Prepare toiletries and bedding
Gather toiletry items such as a towel, washcloth, soap, toothpaste, lotion and shampoo. “I would put them out even if they’re not going to use them so that you don’t have to quiz them on a checklist of items that they’ve brought or haven’t brought,” says Dianne. This also alleviates the need for guests to ask for something they forgot.
If possible, make your guest’s bed before they arrive so they won’t have to wait for you to decide that the end of the day has come. “Now you’re setting up the bedding, and they’re standing there watching you put fitted sheets on. It’s uncomfortable,” Dianne says. Also, provide extra blankets in case they get cold in the middle of the night, Goldson says.
Make space for their clothes
Give guests somewhere to put their clothes so they’re not living out of their suitcase, whether it’s a few hangers in your bedroom closet or some space in a dresser drawer. No room to spare? Be resourceful. “You may have a plastic bin that they could put their clothes in that would sit somewhere in the room” where they’re staying, says Reynolds.
Depending on the weather, you should also make space for outerwear so they aren’t “hanging on to their coat or bringing it back to the bedroom” every time they enter the house, says Dianne.
Give them a house tour
When your guest arrives, take time to show them around. It doesn’t have to be every nook and cranny of the house, but at least cover the spots where they’ll spend the most time, including the sleeping area, bathroom and kitchen.
Post your WiFi information on a card or sticky note, Dianne says, so guests can find it easily and when it’s convenient, “so they’re not walking in the house and you’re like, ‘Okay, here’s the WiFi information,’ and they haven’t even put their bags down yet.” Also provide a power strip with adequate free outlets for them to charge multiple items.
After the tour, “give them some privacy to unwind and get settled,” Dianne adds.
If your guest is arriving late in the evening, set aside food for them. “I would preorder takeout so that when they get back from the airport or wherever, it’s there and they don’t have to be like, ‘Hey, can we stop at McDonald’s on the way home?’ Let them know, ‘I ordered a bunch of stuff and you’re welcome to it,” says Dianne.
Take it a step further by stocking your kitchen with food and drinks they can consume throughout their stay. “If they’re a Pepsi drinker but you’re a Coke person, have a couple cans of Pepsis to make them happy. If they’re vegetarian, have some options there so they have something to snack on — even if they’re not going to make full meals,” says Reynolds.
Dianne suggests having at least six water bottles in the fridge. That way, she says, guests are more likely to feel comfortable taking one, because they won’t be concerned about leaving you without enough. “If there’s plenty, I don’t have that awkward, uncomfortable feeling about taking something,” she adds.
And leave disposable plates, cups and cutlery on the counter. “If somebody wants to get something to eat, they can easily do that and not feel like, ‘Oh, well I have to wash these dishes or put them in the dishwasher,’” says Dianne.
Respect their time
Your guest may have had a long journey getting to you or prefer to go to bed earlier than you do. So if you’re a night owl, consider shutting things at a more reasonable hour “so they have time to unwind and they don’t feel like they have to stay up because the host is staying up when they really want to go to sleep,” says Goldson.
Have the same consideration in the morning. “I never wake anybody up, ever,” says Dianne. “You don’t know how they slept the night before. And if they’re out of town, odds are they either drove a ways, took a bus or took a flight — and these days, that can be a lot.”
Christina Sturdivant Sani is a freelance writer in Northern Virginia.
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