How I Plan to Host Guests at Home
Photos: This Brit | Pexels
In the lead up to Christmas and the new year, you will probably be expecting house guests. Whether they are spending the night or just popping in for dinner, there are a few things you can do to make your guests feel extra welcome and comfortable in your home. The basics of this list is that guests don’t need or want to be pampered. After all being a guest in someone’s home is deeply uncomfortable and being a great host is about removing those discomforts. Aside from creating an environment in which guests can relax and feel at ease, hosting is important to plan in a way which will not exhaust you when you are doing it frequently.
I love hosting, although I know I’m not very good at it when I don’t plan. I am always forgetting to offer people drinks, top ups or plan dinner. There is always something (or several things) I forget to do, which is why it’s helpful for me to plan everything before I have guests.
1. Preparation – Home
Preparation is the key to pretty much everything. I’m a serial list maker, and so in the lead up to friends coming round, I make a list of everything I need to do to make my home as fresh and welcoming as possible. The main areas I focus on are my living room and spare room – which is where they will likely spend most of their time. After putting everything away, I dust and wipe over all of the surfaces, clean the sheets, put out extra coasters, and water my plants. I also open a window to let some fresh air in for a few hours before they are due to arrive.
Making the bed if they are due to stay is a good way to make sure you are not wasting time whilst they are here. I also think it’s nice to put out an “overnight kit” on the dressing table for them. The kit usually consists of a bath sheet, hair towel and face towel, dry shampoo, a bottle of water, hand sanitiser, a cereal bar, a chocolate bar, a piece of fruit, iPhone charger, hair spray, tissues, face wipes, headphones and hand moisturiser. If I have someone I know well coming over, I may add a couple of extra bits, like for example when my mum comes to stay I’ll add an additional cushion as she likes to prop her knees up when she sleeps.
2. Preparation – Supplies
As I go around cleaning the house, I make a note of everything that is missing, for example if my tissue box is running low in the living room I’ll make a note to buy more tissues. I’m the type of person who lives with pretty much bare cupboards and fridge most of the time because if I have snacks in the house I will eat them all in one go.
As well as this, I’m useless at using fresh ingredients as it always seems to go out of date. So before they arrive, I pop to the shops and get a few snacks such as cookies, nachos/ chips and dip, fruit and cereal bars to give guests a few options, if I have time I also try and make some healthy cereal bars or flapjacks. I don’t drink fizzy drinks, or squash, or anything apart from water actually, so I also stock up on various types of fizzy drink, squash variations and a couple of alcohol choices like wine and spirits to make cocktails with.
When they are staying for dinner or overnight, its important to also plan out a few meal options which are quick to make. I’ll ask when they arrive if they fancy “X or Y” for dinner, usually the options are pizza or homemade burgers. If they’ve been to mine before, I’m trying to impress them, or they don’t like pizza or burgers, I may throw courgetti carbonara into the mix as a healthy alternative. For the record I can make other things, and I have several recipe books and a pinterest board full of recipes I enjoy making – but when I have guests coming round I stick to things I can make in my sleep and don’t take a lot of time to prepare.
I’ll also stock up on a couple of breakfast options: pancakes, croissants, toast with condiments and cheese, as well as a few of cereal options. As I don’t drink cows milk, I’ll buy a small cows milk carton in case they want it – if not it’ll go in the freezer for the next time I have guests.
Friends and family don’t usually pop in for a chat unless we have plans. The plans can be anywhere from an evening out at a bar through to there is something we need to watch together on Netflix. If you don’t make plans before hand, I recommend having a couple of things on Netflix or DVD you know they’d like to watch. A few board games or puzzle are good to have as a back up if you don’t want to just sit and talk or watch something. If you do just want to talk, background music is a nice touch. Alternatively, you can offer to go out for dinner or a local bar if you want a different atmosphere.
I find that I’m at my most comfortable curled up on a sofa with a pile of blankets, a full stomach and a TV series in front of me. When guests are over, I ensure they can have the same experience, so when they arrive, I make sure there is enough space for them to hang up their coat and put their shoes in the cupboard. I show them to their room and let them put their things down and get settled. Once they’re ready I show them to the bathroom and then into the living room.
5. Finishing Touches
Smell and atmosphere are two really important ways to make people feel comfortable and cosy. A fresh bunch of flowers, healthy plants and candles are all things that can be used to freshen up a space. If you have plants that are a bit dead, or not looking so healthy, move them out of sight and add in a fresh bunch of flowers to fill the space. If you buy the flowers the day before, it will give them time to settle and release fresher air into your home. I always light candles 25 minutes before my first guest is supposed to arrive and open a window to let some fresh air in – if it’s cold outside I close this a little while before they arrive so the heating can kick in and warm up the apartment.
Fairy lights are also a really sweet touch to any home, I have them scattered over my window sill and wrapped around my balcony ledge, both I turn on around dusk to give a nice glow. I’m also a fan of turning off all of the big overhead lights and sitting by candle light, unless we actually need to see each other/ the food, at that point a small side lamp is really useful.
The final touch I make is putting out all of the food and putting drinks in the fridge to chill . Popcorn, snacks and homemade treats are put on plates and leave them by the sofas for easy access. A jug of water (with lemon and mint if I have time) is left in the fridge and maybe a watermelon mojito mocktail for summer evenings.
Have you got any tips for making your home welcoming? I’m really not very good at hosting so any tips to make it as easy and stress free as possible would be really helpful!