Friday, July 29, 2011

A Little Bag of Extras

View image detail
photo credit
We spent a weekend with Jeremy's sister Annie back in June, and as we were unpacking our first night she approached me. Here is our little bag of extras, she said. In case you need a toothbrush or something. She handed me a medium sized cosmetics bag and I peeked inside. It was a veritable little bag of treasures, including all sorts of hotel-sized shampoo and conditioner bottles, face soap, body wash, tooth brushes and tooth paste...and every sort of toiletry one might require.

I love having company in my home. I love helping company feel at home in my home. Over the years I've stock piled lots of great tricks of the trade for being an effective hostess. Depending on who your guests are and how long they're staying, certain ideas may or may not work for your family. But I once saw an Oprah episode where she gave a tour of her Chicago apartment and she spent half the time discussing her philosophy on being an effective hostess. I believe Oprah's point was that it is hard enough to travel and sleep in an unfamiliar bed without suffering from frostbite all night long. I agree, one hundred percent.

Now, I'm putting myself at risk here by sharing some of the great hostessing tricks I've learned over the years, but let me just say that no one will get it right every time. I'm sure one of my sisters has spent a night of frostbite in my house, or left feeling like the food I served them was gross. So let me disclaim that I don't pretend that Hotel Gillespie is a five star bed and breakfast. In fact, I'm not a morning person, so if you've stayed at our house you most fixed yourself toast for breakfast! But I am interested in different good hostessing tactics, I've experimented with many of them, and at the very least I hope this post serves to keep your future house guests warm at night.

Here are various ideas I've collected over the years:
  • Clean bedding. This suggestion isn't optional if you hope your guests will return.
  • Chocolates on the nightstand (Oprah leaves out cookies and milk, but I can't abide milk at room temperature so unless you have a maid on hand to serve cold milk the moment your guests retire to bed, I recommend the chocolates idea).
  • Fresh flowers in the guest bedroom
  • If your guests are sleeping in your children's room or in a common area, make sure it is clean i.e. isn't stinky. I've slept in rooms that reeked of cigarettes, and I've slept in rooms that reeked of dirty socks. Not a good night's sleep!
  • Be considerate of how your guests respond to your animals. My sister Vauna is great at this! She has two HUGE dogs, but since Jeremy is allergic and I'm not a fan of dog hair she is always considerate about keeping the dogs under control when we visit. Having said that, it's equally reasonable for guests to show respect for the rights of family pets! 
  • Set out clean towels, or at least show your guests where to find clean towels.
  • Stock your fridge with yummy drinks and snacks and show your guests where they are stored. People eat on different schedules and having snacks and drinks available will help them to feel more comfortable grazing. Which leads me to my next point...
  • Even if you aren't a planner and don't have dinner in the crockpot by nine am, you should remember to offer your guests food on a regular basis. It's miserable to feel hungry at someone else's house. 
  • Be flexible. If you planned to spend the day horse back riding and your guests would prefer to play on the Wii all day, be gracious with the change of plans. This is something I'm working on because I am a Planner, capital P.
  • If you have guests for more than a few days, empty the bathroom trash cans and offer them clean towels.
  • When you have guests arriving after a brutal travel day, be considerate about what they might want to eat. Most people aren't ready for greasy cheeseburgers when they've been traveling all day long.
  • Anticipate your guests needs. If they have small children you can make up the beds ahead of time so the sleeping kids can be carried straight into the house. I visited my sister-in-law Amelia one time when my two oldest daughters were very young. She showed up at the airport to pick us up with sippy cups of milk and a bedtime snack all ready for my tired girls. After a miserable plane ride it was the best welcome I could have hoped for!
  • Keep a little bag of extras! I haven't done this yet, but Annie is one of the best hostesses I know and I fully intend to adopt that practice as my own.
There are some details that are simply not worth fussing over. But every now and then you get the chance to open your home to someone whose comfort really matters to you, and it's a chance for you to pull them in and say, "Come. Be comfortable in our world for a little while. Eat. Rest. And I surely hope you feel good while you're with us." Those are the times when some of these ideas might come in handy.

Do you have ideas of your own?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I love having guests, whether we are hosting a BQQ or party or having friends and family over to stay. I always like people to feel comfortable so I give them a tour of the house (which takes 2mins) and emphasise it's their home for their stay too. I get in extra treats and make sure guests know they can and should help themselves. I make sure they know where everything is in case they awake earlier especially how to turn on the TV. I like to leave a towel on their bed, with a little chocolate.

    p.s. (this is quite a long p.s.)

    When we stayed this summer you made us feel so welcome. We loved our peanut butter cups left in a cute bowl by our bed, along with a fresh vase of flowers, fresh towels, a fridge stacked with Rootbeer and other goodies(a big hit) and a room we could call our own for the week. We loved that your little girls were so sharing and gave up their bedroom for the 2 weeks, and we especially loved the fact you cleaned to bogger wall before we arrived.

    But most of of all we LOVED you! After being apart for years you always make it feel like yesterday and that is why you are the best hostess, you love with your heart wide open and your home is warm filled with love, laughter and great memories that make you feel at home. You are a great hostess as it comes from the heart, and that's why we love you x

  3. You were so sweet to say those things Beth. I loved loved having you this summer, and hope you'll consider us your Colorado vacation home:)

  4. I loved this post, Lauren. You are one of the most busiest, successful hostesses I know, so it's great to see a little into your philosophy on the subject!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...