Having overnight guests can feel like a breeze with a few easy steps.

When friends come to stay at our house I feel like my inner child is awakened, it reminds me of when we were kids and we had friends over for slumber parties! I love the idea of guests coming to stay in our home but sometimes the prep work of getting ready for their arrival can cause my excitement to be replaced with stress or frustration.

A few years ago, we had guests arriving in a few short hours and I had left everything to the last minute, which meant scrambling to get everything done. I was frustrated at myself for not planning better and for trying to do too much at once. My husband gave me a hug and sweetly suggested that I work on a checklist for myself so that next time I would be more prepared. In the midst of my emotion I did not take it so well, but I knew that his words had truth so I started a little file in my notes. With each guests that came into our home I learned new things and solved new challenges.

Eventually, what had once felt stressful to prepare for, became a joy and an excitement. I wanted them to feel special from the moment they arrived and I wanted them to know we loved and valued them taking time to come and be with us. Memories began to fill our home with each guest that came and went and I learned to enjoy the prep and process of having guests in our home so that it wasn’t stressful!

I have learn to avoid creating these situations for myself by changing the way I prepare for guests. I am going to let you in on some wonderful tips that I use on a regular basis when preparing for friends to arrive. It takes the guess work and the stress work out of the process.

Tip #1 Ask Questions

You can avoid the possibility of awkward situations by asking your guests few questions before they arrive. This eliminates the element of surprise and helps you to plan accordingly.

Good questions to ask are:

  • When are you arriving?
  • How long will you be staying?
  • Are there any foods you can’t eat or don’t care for?

You don’t want to make a pot roast and find out your guests are vegetarians, or make a big pizza and find out they can’t eat gluten. Set yourself and your guests up for success by asking for details. The fact that you are taking time to be intentional will already start to make them feel loved!

Tip #2 De-Clutter the Space

It is always good to minimize the clutter in the room you are putting your guests in. If you use your guest bedroom as an alternative storage room like I do, sometimes it can make the space feel busy and chaotic. If I have guests coming over, I box the extra stuff up and throw it in my closet or the garage for the duration of their stay.

Less is more when it comes to a guest space. They will come with their stuff and enjoy the extra space.

If it’s your kids bedroom and there are a ton of loose toys everywhere, consider boxing them up and moving them also. Living out of a suitcase is not fun to begin with so they will appreciate the room to breathe!

Tip #3 Give yourself Extra Prep Time

I know this may sound obvious but the more you can do ahead of time the less stress you will have before your guests arrive. I have been in seasons where life was busy and I put off getting ready for guests until the day of their arrival. Of course the day would never go as I planned; I had to run extra errands, food took longer to cook than I expected, and instead of being rested and ready to entertain I was exhausted and frantic by the time they arrived. This can be avoided by doing things like: making sure you have clean sheets ready, towels washed, and food prepped- even if it is a couple of days ahead of time. All the “little” jobs add up and can take away from time needed on the day of their arrival.

Tip #4 Authenticity over Perfection

I know, we have all seen the instagram photo where the living room is perfect and the house is spotless, not a speck of dirt in sight. This is not practical for most of us living an everyday life. Choose to be authentic and real. I am not saying leave your house a mess but if the kids need you or life is crazy busy and you can’t have it perfect, then own it and be okay with it.

In times like this I prioritize what I can accomplish. Bathrooms are always a top priority because you definitely want your guests to have a clean bathroom to use.

Maybe you will have to let go of the dusting, or even the vacuuming in the living room. Maybe you didn’t get that hall closet perfectly organized like you wanted, its okay!! It will make your guests feel comfortable to be themselves and not feel they have to tip toe around to keep a perfect standard either. After all, you do live there.

My husband and I stayed with friends many years ago that had one of the most impeccable houses I’d ever seen. The minute you finished showering she was standing outside the bathroom waiting to clean it again. You had this feeling that anything out of place or even a mere speck of dirt stressed her out. Instead of feeling relaxed and peaceful in her home, I found myself stressed and on guard at all times. If you’re relaxed in your home, your company will be also.

Tip #5 Choose simple over fancy

It can be a bit more demanding having an overnight guests. Not only are they staying in your home but you are also feeding them most of the time. When I know they are eating more than one meal with us, I make sure a couple of the meals are quick to throw together and easy to cook. I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen while the rest of them hang out in the living room.

You don’t want your guests to feel like a burden, so if they see you stressed and slaving away in the kitchen it may make them feel like they have imposed. My trick is to throw in a simple meal like a sandwich bar for lunch where I give 2 meat options, toppings and bread for them to build their own sandwich and then I throw out some fruit and a bag of chips. Sometimes I will choose meal options that I can make before our guests even arrive so that way when dinner time approaches I only have to throw it in the oven and whip up a salad to go with. Things like shepherd’s pie, lasagna or soups are great options in this case.

Having over night guests doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be stressful. Some of our greatest memories with our friends come from them spending long weekends with us; sitting around the fire pit late at night, watching movies together, eating lots of food and having deep conversations over our breakfast coffees.

If you have never had a guests stay at your home, start by inviting a friend to hang for the weekend. Remember the point of having guests in your home is to enjoy their company, to make memories and cultivate life long friendships. I always ask myself the question is what I am doing, planning or cooking, going to make this process stress free or more complicated? You are capable and I believe you can do it. With each guests that enters your home you will improve your skills of entertaining and hosting. Go easy on yourself and enjoy the journey, that is what it is all about!

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