15 Tips for Hosting In A Small Space Like a Pro
The holidays are usually a very busy time and can get stressful so planning ahead is very important. If you know you are having house guests for a weekend or a week having the essentials is going to make the visit easier for everyone. Depending on who the guests are it may be easier or a little more strained. If you live in a small space it even more important to plan ahead. I have compiled a list of tips to help you and your guests enjoy the time.
It is important to know when your guests will arrive. If they are coming from the airport see if you can help with the pick up. Depending on the distance they have traveled, the time of their flight and their age they might want to take a quick shower and nap when they arrive. Perhaps they need a light snack or meal. You do not have to have every minute planned but the initial first few hours of making sure everyone is comfortable sets the tone for the visit. It also is a good time to set the tone for where they can locate the essentials in your home. Review where they will be sleeping and what there is to eat and drink. The more self sufficient they can be the easier it is on everyone.
When you have family or friends coming to stay in your home it is always good to have a few things ready to make their stay more enjoyable for all of you. I make a list and check it off as I prepare for them to arrive. Your guests truly do appreciate the effort you put out to make their stay comfortable. Have bath towels and washcloths ready on the bed or in the bathroom, a new bar of soap or shower gel, extra blankets or comforters, extra pillows, new toothbrushes, bathroom cups, toothpaste, lots of toilet paper, an alarm clock, blanket throws that may be used for a quick nap or to cover cold feet on the sofa and a bedside lamp. If it is wet outside or snowing a basket of slippers by the front door will encourage guests to remove wet shoes and slip on something warm. I try to grab a magazine each week when at the local store for my guests to enjoy. I also like to supply small bottles of hand sanitizer because the holidays are busy with many people coming and going from shopping centers, crowded restaurants, church and Christmas activities.
It is safe to think that when you open your home to guests you will be spending a little more money on food. They may not be eating every meal at your home while they are there but i would at least plan for the initial first meal, breakfasts and some snacks. Making meals ahead of time that can be frozen is always helpful especially if you will be working while your guests are visiting. This depends on the freezer room you have available but dishes like lasagna, bbq, shredded chicken for fajitas are easy to make ahead and freeze. Also it is acceptable to suggest a night to eat out at a favorite restaurant or order delivery. If your guests offer to pay for a meal out for pizza delivery it will help a little with your budget.
I usually bake during the month of December and have cookies and breads on hand for snacking. If you are not a baker then stop at the local market and pick up some holiday goodies. If your guests like to bake maybe you can plan an afternoon of cookie making. For breakfast, I would have coffee, tea, creamer, pancake mix, cereal and eggs available and maybe go and pick up donuts one morning. Our local donut shop takes orders for a container of coffee, bagels, cream cheese and donuts and we just schedule for the morning we want to pick it up. It is actually more relaxing and very little clean up.
If you have guest with a special diet or allergies, discuss it with them before they arrive. I can accommodate a food allergy better than a special diet in my home. Perhaps for a special diet offer to go shopping with the individual after they arrive to pick up ay items they might require. Finally have lots of bottles of water available and a hot pot of something ready for that cold winter chill. It is easy to make hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks on the stove or in a crock pot.
I set up a beverage station in my kitchen for coffee, tea, hot chocolate. Then later in the day if you want to prepare for cocktails you may rearrange the area. I always keep water in the fridge and feel free to have some lemon and limes on hand for the water. If people want other beverages they can pick them up. I do the hot apple cider as mentioned above on a night we are staying home.
I stated before that you should not feel the need to plan every minute of the time you have guests. I usually allow them to settle in the first night and then discuss the plans for the next few days based on what works for all of us. If you have to work, providing an extra house key is helpful and telling your guests what your work schedule will be. If they do not have other family or friends to visit in the area then I try to provide an overview of places of interest in the area.
If you have been planning this holiday with them for a few months take the time and jot down a few of your favorite places to go and the address so they have a list. Compile all that information into a notebook or a file folder wrap it with a bow and it is all theirs. Remember there are many additional activities going on during the Christmas Holiday. There is nothing wrong with a night of board games, easy reading or a walk to enjoy Christmas lights.
Remember to be kind to yourself while your guests are visiting. It is acceptable to go for your normal morning run or trip to the gym before work to maintain some of your normal routine that makes you feel good. A stressed out host/hostess does not make an enjoyable time for anyone.
If you think you can hide your stress from your guests, you are probably wrong! It shows up on your face or your inability to sit down and relax. Take a hot bath and offer bath bombs to your guests. They probably would enjoy a little time to also pamper themselves. I know a family that has a massage therapist visit their house a few days before Christmas to focus on less stress more enjoyment.
I know that sometimes we have guests come to stay and people may have to sleep on the couch or an inflatable mattress. So try to view your accommodations before they arrive. Is there a way to make the area they will be living in for a few days a little more private? If you have a guest room then just make sure you respect their privacy. However if you will have people everywhere try to build in a cozy corner with some pillows and a blanket throw. If children are coming make a corner of a room into a game corner or coloring area It helps everyone to be able to have an area that is a nonverbal cue to everyone that they want quiet time or alone time.
Preparing Your Tribe
I consider the group of humans you are living with for this purpose to be your tribe. I honor all groups of individual that decide to form a family. I advise a designated mandatory meeting with your tribe a few days before your house guests arrive. If someone is giving up their room to accommodate the guests or if we have certain guidelines to discuss now is the time to talk..
if one person is in charge of cooking or bathroom clean up, it needs to be discussed before the guests arrive. In your household it is best to agree that we have a few days that we are going to accommodate our guests in order to appreciate their company to make the holiday more complete. Plan to work together as a team, relax and all have fun together and be prepared for a little inconvenience for a few days.
It might be family coming to visit or good friends. If it is close family you probably have an idea what their holiday religious practice may be but never take it for granted. If your tribe is planning on going to church on Christmas Eve then it is polite to notify your house guests of the time you will be attending church. I always invite my guests to attend if they want but I accept a simple yes or no. They are not visiting in order for me to help shape their religious beliefs and my tribe is going to continue to honor our own religious beliefs. If they would like to attend a different church help them find a church in the area.
How are your guests going to do do the activities that they are interested in? If the guests are staying for a week and you are working it is probably a good question to have answers to before they arrive. The option for them to rent a car is a possibility, however this needs to be scheduled before the visit because of the rush of the Christmas holiday. If they are going to be driving one of your cars it is important to look at your insurance policy before they arrive. If there is an accident while they are driving does your insurance cover for this? It will quickly ruin a holiday if a guests has an accident with your car and insurance does not cover it. Some insurance companies will allow you to pay a small fee for temporary coverage and peace of mind. If guests will be driving your car a quick car wash and clean up is a nice touch before they arrive.
In a small space it is important for your guests to know when what your schedule might be during the time they are visiting. If you have to work then make sure everyone knows what you schedule is to get showered and out the door. iIf other times need to be scheduled then discuss it with your guests. It can all be worked out a little at a time.
Little things go a long way to make house guests feel welcome and for you to relax. I have found a chalkboard in a central location to work perfectly. I can put our full address on it, my cell phone number, our landline number, a wifi connection password ( i also write wifi information down on a post it note), the name of local hospital. This allows my house guests to function a little more independently and I do not end up setting all their electronic devices.
The full address allows them to use uber or a taxi and order take out food. I provide a surge power extension cord for the bedroom. I also provide a cold pitcher of water and cups at night so they do not have to fumble around at night looking for a glass of water. A final note on extra comfort is to put out a few cookies or a light snack ( popcorn and nuts) before bed. I have even put little festive candies in their room.
It is helpful to your guests and also saves some frustration for you to briefly review how to use the 4 remotes you have for all your gadgets connected to the TV. I try to have a small basket in any room that thas a TV in order to keep all of those items together. I then review the easiest way to watch TV or a movie using those controls. If you have an area that you keep your movies, show your guests where to look. Also it is the Christmas holiday so i like to have soft Christmas music playing as background music or have music available for my guests to play.
Front Door or Front Porch Decor
The guests have their first impression of your home from your welcoming front door or porch. A beautiful Christmas Wreath on the front door with a decorated front porch is a true holiday welcome for guests. It may be simple but it feels like a warm welcome to all. So check out some simple decorating on pinterest or your favorite go to DIY spot for ideas or spruce up some decorations from last year.
By the time your guests arrive you should be done decorating your home for Christmas. It makes sense to follow your own traditions and decorating style before your guests arrive. Having the Christmas tree decorated and whatever other places you like to use as your focal points is important to your tribes holiday. Remember to turn on the twinkling lights on your tree and any other area you utilize lights for because it gives your home a warm glow. I also love my home to smell like cinnamon and apple pie during the holiday so the use of candles or whatever device you like to use goes a long way.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Meal
So finally the two big events have arrived, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. it is your home so talking to your guests about your plan for these two events is a must.I always plan a Christmas morning brunch so everyone can eat what they want and where they want. As long as you have seating the rest will work out. It also allows me to have food prepared ahead of time. Plan your main meal menu ahead of time and have it written down or printed out. The main part of the meal such as a turkey or ham is an item you should cook yourself. The rest of the menu I would certainly allow your guests to help prepare and allow any additional guest to bring a dish. People usually ask what they may bring for dinner so do not be afraid to mention an item on your menu. Your house guests will appreciate being able to help so if you do not want them to cook then have them set your table.
I like to share my thoughts with them on how I might set up the table but allow them to be creative. People are not going to be critical of your table display. It is a must to have enough silverware cups, plates, coffee cups, saucers, serving utensils, dessert plates, wine glasses and serving bowls. It can be stressful to feel as if you need to run and do dishes before dessert. I have learned to use my coffee table as a mini buffet or for my wine and appetizers. It make the perfect space for my guests to be out of the kitchen and be able to snack and socialize.
The option of gift exchange has so many possibilities and can be different depending on if your house guests are family or friends. I think at your tribal meeting it is an issue that needs to be discussed and then information dispersed with whoever your house guest are going to be. The idea of presents and traditions can become so overwhelming in some families and I think it is how every person, no matter how they were raised, interprets the gift giving phenomena. Try a behavioral game by giving out paper to everyone in your family and then ask them to write down their answers to a series of gift giving questions. It is amazing that you were all raised somewhat the same way but have so many different answers about gift giving. However talking to your guests ahead of time and coming up with a manner in which all of you will be comfortable following should at least make this Christmas enjoyable. There is no right or wrong answer only compromise
Remember that people are thankful for having a place to stay and being near family or friends. Nothing is ever perfect but the effort you have put out to make your guests comfortable will be remember for a long time.