Expert tips to help you manage all your house guests this summer
When you live in beautiful B.C., you can often expect several of your family and friends to plan their summer vacation around a visit to your home. You get anyone from close relatives to people you really weren’t sure you were close to asking to drop by. I like to call it the sunshine tax!
While I truly enjoy entertaining and filling my home with family and friends, it can get a little overwhelming. I advise spending a few hours preparing at the start of the summer in order to streamline your hosting duties for the months to come.
Here are a few things I like to have prepared before out-of-towners come knocking...
1. Invest in extra towels and bedding
I like to have two sets of sheets for the guest bedroom. This eliminates the panic when you have overlapping guests. I like to put out a set of towels for each guest: a bath towel, hand towel and face cloth. Typically, white are best—they don’t have to cost a fortune, but make sure they are good quality. I also have extra blankets and pillows in a linen closet. Let your guests know where to find them should they need them.
I think it’s important to establish a bit of a “help yourself” routine or you will end up thinking you own a bed and breakfast. It’s an added bonus to have a bathrobe as well. Most guests don’t travel with them, and it makes such a difference to have one. If you add slippers, they are likely to move in—so be careful!
2. Set out food and drinks
When guests first come to stay, they may feel shy about rifling through the fridge and cupboards for food. I like put together a snack basket and leave it in the guest room, perfect for those late-night cravings. I also like to provide access to coffee for the morning in case you have an early riser. If there’s no place for a small coffee maker, take the time to show your guests where your coffee, sugar, filters, etc. live. Back to the ‘help yourself’ philosophy. With any luck, they may bring you coffee. That will ensure an invitation for next year!
3. Share your toiletries
Having travel-size soaps and shampoos on hand are a nice gesture for the guest bathroom, not to mention handy in case your guests forgot something. (And also a good use of all that stuff you took from hotel rooms!) Full size works too: I keep all of my extra toiletries and a spare hairdryer in my guest bathroom. Don’t forget sunscreen—those prairie guests may not be accustomed to our heat.
4. Help them plan their stay
Providing travel brochures and restaurant recommendations for your city is a great idea, especially if your guests are going to be exploring on their own. (Which they may be doing, if you’re sticking to your work schedule.) Also provide your WiFi password and some magazines or novels. I like to leave the former written on a card in their room.
5. Make meals a group effort
As any host can tell you, it can be very time-consuming and expensive to host meals. You have to be careful not to set a precedent. As my mom would say: “Start as you mean to go.” I think it’s important that everyone participates in the meal planning and execution, whether it’s dining in a restaurant or throwing some steaks on the barbecue, especially if you are working. Note to prospective guests: This is the perfect time to pitch in and a way of saying thanks!
Remember that you are not obligated to host everyone who asks. The last thing you want to do is spend the whole summer catering to everyone else. If you are busy, let your friends know it’s not the best time to visit. If you just can’t say no, prepare them in advance, letting them know that you’re happy to let them stay, but you won’t have much time to play tour guide. And be forewarned—don’t go overboard on hosting—your guests may never leave.