In those fleeting days I call my twenties I took a solo trip abroad. I found myself at a beautiful resort in rural Finland. Bikes were provided for exploring the countryside. A spa service was available for weary travelers. A thoughtful garden drenched in flowers provided a peaceful retreat. And soft linens offered ample rest.
I appreciate this all the much more now that I am the one washing the linens and providing the spa service (of some sort) for my wee ones.
Of course I paid for this experience, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could use our homemaking skills to create a similar retreat for overnight guests? The good news is, by caring for your family and home, you already have what it takes to be a great host for overnight guests.
Offering hospitality with joy
I love this verse on hospitality in 1 Peter: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
As homemakers, we get to offer hospitality to friends and family without grumbling… in fact, we can do it with joy! It can feel counter cultural to try to be a great host for overnight guests (after all, aren’t their hotels for that?). But if you delight in the details and in your relationships, there is fun and joy to be found in hosting!
The good news is that with just a little attention to detail, we can provide a welcoming haven for overnight guests.
Here are a few tips on how you can be a great host for overnight guests:
1. Designate a special guest room and make it cozy
If you don’t have a guest room, see if you have an office space or other area that you can convert into a part time guest room. Make the room feel special however you can. Add special bedding. Use soft, natural fibers and neutral colors to provide a relaxing atmosphere. Add cozy touches in your guest room like a soft rug, fresh flowers, and an essential oil linen spray. Before your guest arrives, clean your guest room thoroughly! (Especially if you have muddy farm kids, like we do!).
Inexpensive ways to spruce up your guest room:
Find cute vintage décor at thrift shops. You can sometimes negotiate prices even lower than listed!
Brand new linens can be found at goodwill and garage sales
Create your own art work or print a welcome sign
Try growing seasonal flowers like cosmos and zinnias and making your own bouquets
2. Provide a thoughtful gift basket for your guest.
If you know your guest well you can provide a personal touch such as their favorite chocolate or a book. You can also include water bottles, and sample size shampoo. We recently had a teenage cousin stay with us, so we stocked her up on her favorite candy, a journal, stickers and a notebook!
3. Plan an optional activity for your guest.
Depending on their length of stay, you may want to take your guest out on an adventure. We are blessed to live close to both the mountains and the beach (and great food, too!).
Make sure you don’t overstep your bounds though, and let your guest have the free time they may need for rest or work. Be sure to also share what your schedule and commitments are in advance so your friend or family members knows how much time you can really spare for fun!
You can also create a small notebook with ideas of local attractions. Wineries, hikes, beaches and favorite restaurant ideas can be jotted down, with locations and tips.
4. Include your guests in your meal planning
While you aren’t expected to provide all of the meals for your guest, be sure to include them in your menu planning. Find out in advance if they have food allergies or aversions. Give them a short tour of the kitchen so they are able to get their own beverages and snacks, and so they also know where dirty dishes go!
A gracious guest will offer to chip in towards meals and snacks.
5. Provide fresh towels and a clean bathroom for your guest.
Make sure your bathroom is well stocked with fresh towels and toilet paper. You can add sample size shampoos and soap, or even pick up some luxurious, healing soap like this one! If you can designate a bathroom just for your guest that is wonderful.
You can determine bathroom schedules for showering at this time, if you are bathroom sharing!
I have read that showing your guest where the plunger is can save from embarrassing conversations. This would have never crossed my mind, but may be true! 😉 My husband says this step isn’t necessary….use your own discretion, haha!
6. Don’t expect too much from your guests.
If you are willing and offer to host in your home, expect that you may have to clean up when your guests leave. If your guest has great manners, they will clean up and the bathroom and guest room will be in great condition upon departure. You can also ask guests to help with basic household chores! Showing them where dirty laundry goes and where the detergent lives can be a gentle way of asking them to clean after themselves.
However, since you opened your home to a visitor, this is a time to extend grace. Remember, everyone has different standards!
Schedule house cleaning for when your guests depart. If you are having overnight guests for an extended amount of time, there is no shame in hiring a house cleaning service to do a thorough cleaning upon departure.
What to do if guests outstay their welcome
Whew, what a tough question! To avoid finding yourself in a situation with a guest who is outstaying their welcome, be sure to communicate expectations in advance. You can do this by asking the guest how long they need to stay, and letting them know you have plans for the room after they leave. This may be as simple as getting the room back to use as a work space.
You may also have to be direct and just let them know that you need your space back. Try to do this with as much grace and kindness as possible!
As I finished typing, a thought came to me: we as homemakers have the chance to revive hospitality. In an age of self absorption and scrolling, we can take to the helm of actually loving people well. In an age abrasive to the norms of well loved homes, we can gather others into our own simply to show them intentional care.
So tell me, do you delight in hosting? What tips do you have to share?