Preparing for Weekend Guests
My husband and I live for weekend guests. We’ve always loved hosting parties and pride ourselves on making sure everyone has an epic time. If our guests have a great time then we do too.
We are relatively recent transplants to Atlanta and have been lucky enough to have a few friends and family visit our new space. We want our guests to feel like they’re in a clean home but also a comfortable one. We also want all of our buddies to move to Atlanta so we go into recruitment mode when they come to town.
House Rules: We want everyone to have fun and feel at home but we do have one rule in the house - and I use the word rule loosely. We're a no shoes in the house, house. I feel like it can get awkward when guests walk in and they are excited to see you and excited to scope out your new home but you stop them with the 'wait, wait ... your shoes'. Then they feel uncomfortable, then you feel guilty and its just weird. So to avoid that situation we make it obvious to our guests when they walk in. There’s a handful of baskets on the floor with shoes in them and a small sign that reads ‘take your shoes off and stay a while’. People usually see the baskets and kick their shoes as soon as they walk in. And if they miss the obvious sign and keep their shoes on we’re not really too concerned about it. If you are a stickler for the no shoes rule a simple “I’ll take your bags so you can kick off your shoes” will probably do the trick.
Keep It Clean: After years of working with struggling hotels I’ve learned a thing or two about cleanliness and comfort. I’ve seriously seen it all… you wouldn’t believe. Cleanliness is the key factor of taking something from horrible to great. As long as your guests have a clean bed and bath they’ll be happy they opted to stay with you.
We wash the sheets and make the beds when guests leave - that way they’re always looking fresh and if we have spur of the moment guests we don’t have to worry about getting the room ready - because it’s already done.
We clean the whole house. This isn’t really required for guests - especially if they’re close friends and family but my thinking is that if I don’t clean the house for overnight guests … when will I clean it? Probably never. Check out my blog for an quick and easy way to clean the whole house. Sounds daunting but we make it easy. If you have kids I say let their rooms be what they are - unless of course your guests are staying in a kid’s room. In that case bins can be your best friend. I hate the idea of ‘hiding’ things. If you try to hide the mess by shoving objects wherever you can find a secluded space than you’re just creating more work for yourself later. Rather than hide things, try the first step to organization - which is sorting. Sort all of the clothes and toys in your kids room into bins that make sense (categories of like with like). That way the mess is cleaned up and you’re making future organization easier - rather than more complicated.
The Special Touches: This is my favorite part. We like our guests to feel like they’re at a B&B when they stay with us. We want them to enjoy the comforts that go along with staying with a friend but also the luxuries of staying at a hotel. I make sure all of our bathrooms have fun soaps in addition to the essentials (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste). I leave luffas in the guest bath for them to use as well. They’re .99 and make the guests feel at home.
I also like to put bottles of water next to all of the beds. I got this from my mother. Whenever I visit home there’s water next to my bed (and sometimes a bowl of m&m’s in my room). It’s a nice convenience for your guests that takes almost no effort on your part.
I was gifted these great, little, battery powered candles that have a timer. I put one in each bedroom and one in the kitchen. They go on at 5p and stay on for about 6 hours. You could say it creates ambiance but let's be honest - it's a grown-up night light.
Stock Up On Goodies: I get serious FOMO so I hate having to run to the store when I know everyone is hanging out and having fun. So I say try to hit the grocery store before your guests arrive and load up on essentials like orange juice, coffee, eggs and fruit. We love cooking big breakfasts for our friends in the morning. My husband makes the best scrambled eggs and I come in clutch with the smoothies. The 20 year old in me still loves to rehash the night before over brunch. Breakfast is also a great time to figure out what you want to do with the rest of the day.
Have a Plan but be Prepared to Ditch It: I like to make a brunch or dinner reservation here and there and have a few ideas of things to do when visitors come to town but it’s important to avoid creating a full on itinerary. Who knows what may come up - some of my most favorite memories are the most random ones. You also don’t want to rush your guests through something they’re enjoying just to get to the next planned event. I tend to do that with my parents when they visit. I want to show them everything I can and end up dragging them all over the city when really, they’d probably be happy spending the day catching up over a long lunch.
Also, take into account the guests interests. A lot of our friends like the outdoors and like to be active. When we invited a handful of New Yorkers down for a weekend of Southern food and craft brews we decided to start one of our days with a hike up Stone Mountain. We made some great memories, took some gorgeous photos and all felt a little better about the damage we had done to our bodies the day before. We have friends who love antiques so we try to set aside some time for 'tiquing with them. I’ve also figured out that my parents probably don’t want to hit up the new cool restaurant in town. They prefer a classic place with good food, great service and music at a decibel that doesn’t challenge the conversation.
Something New: We try to give our guests something they don’t get at home. Since a lot of our friends are up North we make it a priority to get some serious Southern food at some point during their stay.
Ambiance: Its important to create a pleasant ambiance that welcomes guests when they walk into your home. There are a few things that can quickly turn your house into a home with a distinguished personality and warmth. When friends arrive at our house there’s always a candle burning (I’m obsessed with Paddywax Apothecary) and a record spinning. If you enjoy baking try whipping up some fresh baked cookies before your pals arrive. If you’re into wine, have a bottle ready to go. If you like filling your house w/ photographs, put out one or two of you and the bestie who's coming to visit. Any personal touch you add to the weekend will be appreciated.