Being a good host is something of a lost art. Balancing the roles of tour guide, innkeeper, cook and friend (while still managing to have fun yourself) can be challenging, to say the least.
Make visiting friends and family feel at home, and ease the burden on yourself, this summer with a little extra preparation. Read on for a dozen ways to welcome guests, and make weekend visits more fun.
Provide a grab-and-go breakfast station. Keep fresh fruit, breakfast cereals and other essentials together on the counter for early risers. Give guests a quick kitchen tour the night before so they can get their morning coffee or tea without waiting for you.
If you want to set an extra-special table or surprise a birthday guest, adding a monogrammed mug and a small arrangement of flowers is lovely and doesn't take much extra effort.
Set a casual tone. I'm not saying you shouldn't clean up a bit before guests arrive, but keeping things close to the usual state of things around the house will help put guests at ease. Newspapers on the coffee table, flip flops piled by the door and music in the background set the stage for relaxation.
Ask ahead about favorites and routines. Check in advance to see what your weekend guests usually eat for breakfast, or if they have any special food or beverage requests or allergies. Picking up a few things especially for your guests is a nice touch and isn't really any trouble — it just requires thinking ahead a bit.
Prep your front porch. It's the first thing guests see, after all, so make sure it is well lit, freshly swept and outfitted with clean cushions and green plants.
Stock bedrooms with essentials. Clean sheets and extra pillows are a no-brainer, but try adding a few of these extras to take it to the next level:
- iPod dock with speakers
- Small alarm clock
- Vintage home or fashion magazines
- An electric tea kettle
- Small basket with sample-size toiletries
- Local travel guide
Make young guests feel at home. Make the stay in a new place easier on little ones by making their bed fresh and inviting and stocking their room with a few of your favorite childhood toys.
Be sure to ask parents of young children in advance if there is anything you can have ready for them — borrowing a high chair from a friend, for instance, means the grownups can pack lighter.
Allow for downtime. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of overplanning activities for weekend guests. Having a few tentative outings or projects on the agenda can be helpful, but avoid the urge to fill every last second. Most guests will really appreciate some blocks of unstructured time to relax, chat, read, nap or even venture out on their own.
Give guests a job in the kitchen. When dinnertime rolls around, feel free to have guests pitch in with a few simple tasks in the kitchen. Ask them to pour the wine, choose the music, prep greens for a salad or set the table, and soon your visitors will be feeling right at home.
Eat alfresco. Eating outdoors makes food tastier, conversation livelier and people more relaxed. Even if you don't have an outdoor table, consider carrying your kitchen table outside for the evening. It will make for a memorable night.
Provide old-school entertainment. With the oversaturation of high-tech gadgets in our lives these days, it can feel really refreshing (and even indulgent) to unplug for an afternoon. Play board games or cards, work on a big puzzle, read, talk, go for a walk, ride bikes or swim.
Fill baskets with outing essentials. I love the idea of keeping baskets by the door, ready to go for typical outings. You could have a beach basket with sunscreen, towels and spare sunglasses, or a picnic basket with blankets, cutlery and unbreakable dishes. Just grab the appropriate tote and head out!
Reconnect at the end of the day. Even if you and your visitors part ways during the day, it can be nice to regroup and kick back together at the end of the day. Make a ritual of carrying snacks and beverages into the backyard or onto the porch and sharing stories from your day.
Tell us: How do you prepare for weekend guests? Have any fun activity ideas? Share them in the Comments section!