Thursday, December 16, 2010

On having houseguests

The pine paneling is right, but the rest of the room is nowhere near this nice.

My sister (who will henceforth be referred to as the Kid, as that's what I call her) and her husband, dog, and tortoise are staying with us for approximately two weeks. We have only ever really had overnight guests before (and none of them were reptiles), so this will be an interesting experience for all involved.

As soon as we knew they were coming, we started making plans. Where would they stay? What would they do while we were at work all day? What about their dog, who is a master at finding and eating food that you were certain was safely out of reach?

Not only that, but I wanted to be a gracious hostess. I wanted the Kid and Brian to feel comfortable and welcome. How to make all this happen? Here are some tips I've found helpful: some from a surprisingly-not-terrible Yahoo Shine article, some from the Guru herself, and some just common sense.
  • Think about what your guest might need. The Kid and Brian are in the middle of a cross-country move with three months' worth of possessions, so we rearranged the guest room to include some additional shelving so they wouldn't have to leave all their stuff in the living room or their car.
  • Be clear about expectations. Is the default prospect that they will or won't be joining us for dinner? Do we feed their dog if they aren't home in the evening? Will they be here Christmas morning? Will they be having friends over?
  • ...But don't try to make them commit to a rigid schedule because it makes you more comfortable. Our guests are home to visit all the family in the area, and it was a surprise to everyone but me and Andy. They don't have the whole visit mapped out. Build in some flexibility.
  • Be accommodating without driving yourself crazy. Originally Andy and I had planned to switch to using the downstairs bathroom so our guests could have the one closer to their bedroom, but this would mean a hassle for us every morning. Instead we're all sharing the upstairs bathroom and their tortoise is living in the downstairs bathtub.
    • Similarly, those guys are used to California temperatures, so our house (at 65 degrees) feels REALLY FUCKING COLD to them. Well, we have lots of blankets around, offered them the use of sweaters and slippers, and encouraged them to use a space-heater in their bedroom, rather than pay the upcharge in heating the house to 72 all the time.
  • Make it easy for them. Make sure they know where to find garbage cans, extra toilet paper, Q-tips, the plunger, toothpaste, and so on. What might they need while they're staying? Either keep it out in plain sight, label the cupboard it's in, or include an "instruction manual" on the nightstand with that info.
  • Be sure to set boundaries. This one, to me, is the most situation-specific. We trust my sister and Brian to make sure their dog isn't acting a fool. However, we've had other guests with pets who shit on the carpet after we reminded the guest about keeping an eye on said pet. That pet is no longer welcome to stay with us, because the owner doesn't respect that boundary.
  • Make sure you're having a good time too. You can be gracious without being a servant, and be fun without exhausting your guests.
What tips do you have when hosting? Have you ever had guests for two weeks?

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