If you’ve recently moved out of state you’re probably going to be entertaining family and friends less frequently. However, get ready, because when you do have an opportunity to entertain, it will most likely be overnight (assuming your family and friends haven’t already followed you to your fabulous new state!)

I have so enjoyed this new kind of hospitality! In our old state, we occasionally had our kids’ friends spend the night, but there was never a reason to host our adult family and friends overnight because they all lived within a short driving distance. I have been so pleasantly surprised at the joy to be had in hosting family and friends for longer than we have in the past. Here are just three simple tips I found enhance the experience for everyone.

1. Have a hospitality cart in the room where your guests sleep.

The key to ensuring a happy trip for your guests is to try to think about every necessity and provide it before they arrive. This way there is no space in their brains to fill up worrying about things like where they will find their coffee in the morning. A cart is the easiest thing in the world to fill up with many of the odds and ends your traveling guests will need to feel comfortable. Stock it with the following items:

  • electric kettle
  • french press
  • coffee and tea
  • cute mugs
  • disposable cups with lids
  • chocolate
  • lavender sleep spray for bedding
  • bottled waters
  • earplugs
  • a small gift welcoming them into your home
  • snacks
  • something to read

You will be surprised that such a simple gesture can make your guests feel loved and cared for.

2. Respect the privacy and time of your guests.

Some people love staying up late into the wee hours of the morning visiting and some do not. Some guests will want you to drive them around and plan out their entire trip and some will not. Be respectful of the schedule your guests are on. Consider any time change they may be coming from and do everything you can to be accommodating. Your time is limited with your guests so remember to make every interaction as stress-free and fun as you possibly can.

It’s so important to remember that everyone gets to a point where they just need to be alone. Do your best to let your guests have time to enjoy being alone. Traveling often brings with it a sort of ambient stress that can be greatly diminished just by allowing your guests time to relax. Follow their queues to find out when they’d like to chat and visit and when they need to get some other work done. Let your guests have time to talk with each other as a family without your family being there for every moment. Respect your guests’ privacy.

3. Remember your role as hostess.

It’s really important to remember that although you are a friend, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, etc. of your beloved guests, you are first a hostess. If you do not purchase the food, clean the house, prepare the beds, etc…no one will. It is not polite to expect your guests to just figure those things out. It is your responsibility to provide a safe, comfortable place for your guests. So, give yourself ample time to plan. Don’t just think everything will magically work out. Sit down with a pad and paper and go thru each day your guests plan to be in your home. Consider the things they’ve said they will be doing or the things you know they would enjoy and do everything in your power to make those things happen. Consider the meals you will be responsible for preparing. Will they need breakfast, lunch and dinner? Are there some days they will be gone for some meals? Taking the time to outline those things will be so helpful in your meal planning and will make your shopping more efficient.

Some quick tips for preparing meals for your overnight guests:

  • Prepare breakfast the night before. Things like overnight oats and egg casseroles are so easy to prepare in advance and will be a big blessing to you and your guests in the morning when people are usually a bit more tired than usual from all the fun of travel and conversation.
  • Stock your home with the kinds of snacks and lunch options appropriate for the guests you are having. If you are having a bunch of kids over, fruit and gold fishies are essential in my view. Easy salads from Trader Joes, deli sandwiches, and special treats you wouldn’t normally buy, make the afternoons a little bit sweeter and easier for you and your guests.
  • For dinners, it’s a good idea to write down what you will be preparing on a chalkboard or just let your guests know somehow so they have an idea of what can be expected during the evenings. (Remember, your goal as a hostess is to have already thought about the needs of your guests and to have already taken steps to provide for those needs so your guests don’t waste time and energy worrying about those things.)

It’s really important to remember to keep a very open hand with your guests. You may have planned out everything to a T but if they would like to try out a restaurant or head somewhere you weren’t expecting, don’t take offense. The plan is meant to serve the guests, not to be a burden on their trip.

Overnight hospitality has a unique opportunity to convey the warmth, joy and love you have in your heart for your friends and family. Don’t squander the opportunity! Study the people coming to your home, do your best to do what you think would mean a lot to them, keep an open hand with unexpected plans and needs, and both you and your guests will have a comfortable (and fun!) time sharing your home together. May God bless you in all your hosting!

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