Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to be the hostess with the mostess

I have made no secret amongst my family and friends how much I love having visitors. Maybe it's the excitement of showing off my city to visitors who've never been here. Or reconnecting with loved ones that we haven't seen in a while.

Quite possibly it's the week-long manic cleaning fest I engage in when I know guests are coming.

Whatever the reason, it's something we all look forward to.

And because I am bored awesome, I am going to share some of my hosting secrets with you.

I know. Try to contain your excitement.

In our current home, we are fortunate enough to have two extra bedrooms that we use as guest rooms. We've not always been so lucky (I'm talking to you, tiny townhouse in San Diego! And you, two-bedroom apartment in Boston!) but we are thrilled to be able to offer guests their own bedroom and bathroom now.


When we've not had lodgings to spare, we've kicked children out of their rooms, scoured every surface in bleach, and put guests in there. A key for happy visitors is not having to share a bunk bed with your three-year-old who is having night terrors. Privacy is a must. If you simply can't spare the space, offer to sleep on the hideaway in the living room, and put the guests in YOUR room.

Remember, they've come a long way and likely spent a pretty penny to get there. Make them feel welcome and comfortable.

Extra towels are a MUST. I always stock the guest bathroom with fresh towels, and put a stack of extras at the foot of the bed. I can't think of anything that grosses me out more than using a towel after someone else - be it my own husband, children, or otherwise. Towels cost only a few dollars at Wal-Mart or Target. Plus? When your guests leave, you have new towels to add to your own rotation, as well.


One trick I learned on my first visit to Casa de Gabi was the guest basket. I loved having one of my own at her place, and have never let a guest sleep in my home without one since.


The contents vary by visitor and my anticipation of their likes/needs, but the gist is the same. Magazines, snacks, water bottles, and spare toiletry items. You know never what you'll forget at home on a trip, and it's nice to have it on hand.


I also call each visitor a few days before their arrival and ask if there are any drinks/foods/snacks that they'd like me to pick up. My mother-in-law's drink of choice is far different from my own, and I know it makes her happy to find it waiting oh-so-cold in the fridge. If there are kids coming, what do they like for breakfast? What passes for a morning meal around here may not work for someone else's kids. Everyone is most comfortable when familiar foods abound.

Another thing I like to do is have a stack of recently-read books on the nightstand. I am not necessarily a book saver - if I've read it and liked it, I am happy to pass it on to the next person.

Plus? Maybe your guests are speed readers and have plowed through their 18 books on the plane or in the car. (No, Daniel, I'm not talking to you. I realize you're barely literate). But it's always a nice treat to have a new book to read or put on your list to be read next.


Lastly, be prepared with fun ideas in various price ranges for sight-seeing. Your guests have not likely prepared an itinerary of every local spot they want to hit. They are relying on you to know the best restaurants and sights to see in YOUR city. Have ideas ready so you're not spending half a day trying to decide what to do.

So, now I just have to ask, who is going to come visit next? Your room is all ready...


Jeanelle said...

Oh my goodness -- did you know that I loved Something Borrowed & Something Blue? LOVED! When can I come? No seriously. When? How many trips to McDonalds for drinks could we make in a long weekend? Let's set a goal and then try to beat it.

Annie said...

Ah, I can testify that you are the mostest hostess having been the recipient of such fabulous hospitality. I love the Christie Inn.

Tristan said...

DAMN! Booking my flight now... ;-)

Karey said...

Great tips for hosting company and it makes me wish I knew you well enough to inflict my family on you for a few days!

shilo said...

Ahhh...I loved my 5 day post surgery stay at the Halverson Hotel. That treat basket was amazing. You rock. And I'm pretty sure that's not the vicodin I'm remembering. You hooked me on Twilight. Although the first one is a bit 'fuzzy'. Hope to visit you sometime!

Julianna said...

As long as you play along when I tell the kids that there's no room for them to come with me. :)

So where shall I book the airline ticket to? -J

Elizabeth said...

Okay its a long way for us to come so we will be staying for 3 months. You may need a bigger basket. Thanks.
PS Great post - Im going to print it out and send it to my relatives . I want them to be prepared.

danandcindy said...

I wouldn't read your smut anyways. It's not written or endorsed by Glenn Beck.

But the basket was a very thoughtful gift, that I didn't expect. You are a pretty nice sister.

By the way, the image of that rectangular thing covered in a blanket with pillows, is actually a pile of sticks bundled up and covered in a sheet, designed to keep visits brief.

It's only fair that you warn your blog readers before they book airfare.

brooke said...

Your brother is so funny.

You truly are the hostess with the mostess. You had me at the clean towels..but the gift basket? Nice.

When my sister comes to stay with me, she has to climb over all the junk in my guestroom just to find the bed and she is lucky if there is a clean towel in the bathroom.

Anna said...

My people will get with your people to schedule a visit. Can't wait to see you again.

Emily said...

Ohhh, I wish it could be me. I was actually flirting with the idea of packing up the kids and heading your way over spring break--but then my sister decided to go and get married during that week, *@%^ her.

Travelin'Oma said...

You are the hostess with the mostest! I know! I'm not nearly as prepared or thoughtful. Will Josh need a basket?

Jessica at Kids Napping? I'm Scrapping! said...

Are you kidding me? Wow!! If you could fit Mr. Darcy in the guest basket, and ask Hugh to hold the towels, you would have a slice of heaven on earth.
We'll talk more about this in person. I'm coming over. ;)

Annemarie said...

I'm on the next flight outta here...if only.

jessica said...

I just hosted and I was proud of myself buying another set of towels and filling the toiletry jar! Now I have to get a gift basket...I don't know if I want to be that nice to my family, they might stay too long.

Lauren in GA said...

Stie, you are COMPLETELY and TOTALLY awesome. I love that gift basket idea...well, I love all of it!

I especially love how you told Dan that you realized that he is barely literate...and how he told you that he really did like his basket.

I want to come visit you. You are so, so, so, awesome.

Joy & Casey said...

Amazing. Now I want to come visit you even more than ever. Wonder what will be in my basket??? You rock.

Ilene said...

Crap, Andrea reads this blog. She is coming to visit next month whilst she attends a friends' wedding.

Magazine ideas for her?

I am thinking a goodie basket consisting of flax seed and dried apricots will be a hit.

Cindy said...

We love visiting you... and all of the things mentioned made us feel so loved. --We would come back even if you didn't have the lovely gift basket. Thanks for being such a great host!

crystal said...

Alright, that's it. I'm leaving my 4 children in the dust as soon as I can possibly manage to do so and coming to roost in your guest nest.

Diet Coke
historical fiction
Diet Coke
dark chocolate
nivea lotion
Diet Coke
some sort of cookie

Just kidding about the tofu.

crystal said...

(your bro Dan is funny.)

Liz said...

You aren't just blowing smoke, you are a great hostess. I learned from you and my houseguests love the gift basket. Hostessing is one of the many things I have learned from you.

Trainer Momma said...

Perfect! I have family coming in for the next week and I am off to the store to get their baskets ready right now. Wonderful idea!

Melissa said...

This might sound lame, but what are the white circles in the upper-right of the goody-bag photo?

Christie said...

Melissa - they are make-up remover pads. :-)