My husband, John, and I often have overnight guests at our home. Here's what I've learned:
First of all, we think preparing for houseguests has many similarities to our travel business. Just as with a tour, guests want privacy in their accommodations. A guest bedroom dedicated to them is a must.
Making your guest room homey might include the following comforts: fresh flowers, books on the area, bottled water, an alarm clock, good light for reading, a fan, and a television. Written information on your home address, cell phone number, and Wi-Fi connection is also helpful. A king-size bed would be nice, but not necessary. However, make sure the bed is made with the best linens you own.
Everybody uses those luggage racks you find in hotel rooms. You set your suitcase on it and work out of there. A luggage rack is an inexpensive investment that would enhance your guests' stay with you.
An attached bathroom is nice, but not critical. Provide a couple of inexpensive terry cloth robes, so your guests can make any dash across the house with an appropriate feeling of modesty. Thick towels and great soap help add an element of luxury.
For meals, provide dinner and drinks the first night of their stay. Have the dinner completely prepped before they arrive. Some of our favorite dinner ideas include appetizers of Italian meats and olives, and, for the meal, Moroccan chicken, yellow rice with peas, fresh bread, and tossed salad. Dessert is a must, which I like to do by the table. Grilled pound cake and sautéed strawberries in sauce with fresh whipped cream is one of my favorites. All other dinners are usually at restaurants. (Hopefully, your guests will offer to pay for one or more meals out!) For lunch, prep goods that you can quickly pull out from the refrigerator. Salads are always a big winner. Each evening, prepare the coffee pot so that the first one up can turn it on. Fresh fruits, bagels, sweet breads, cereal, yogurt, and other items to which guests can help themselves allow everyone to enjoy the morning at their own pace.
In terms of entertaining your guests, it's important to remember that too many planned activities is not the best. One planned activity a day is enough. "Me" time is critical. Walking, bicycling, golf, shopping, and pool or beach time are popular options.
Try not to schedule guests for more than three nights. After that time, everyone gets antsy. And remember, keeping a sense of humor and being flexible are key factors to successful hosting.
Written by Mary Stachnik, the co-owner of Mayflower Tours who has a passion for entertaining and gardening. Mayflower offers escorted tours throughout North America and the World. Learn more about their offerings at mayflowertours.com.