How to be the hostess with the mostess

I have made no secret amongst my family and friends how much I love having visitors. Maybe it's the excitement of showing off my city to visitors who've never been here. Or reconnecting with loved ones that we haven't seen in a while.

Quite possibly it's the week-long manic cleaning fest I engage in when I know guests are coming.

Whatever the reason, it's something we all look forward to.

And because I am bored awesome, I am going to share some of my hosting secrets with you.

I know. Try to contain your excitement.

In our current home, we are fortunate enough to have two extra bedrooms that we use as guest rooms. We've not always been so lucky (I'm talking to you, tiny townhouse in San Diego! And you, two-bedroom apartment in Boston!) but we are thrilled to be able to offer guests their own bedroom and bathroom now.


When we've not had lodgings to spare, we've kicked children out of their rooms, scoured every surface in bleach, and put guests in there. A key for happy visitors is not having to share a bunk bed with your three-year-old who is having night terrors. Privacy is a must. If you simply can't spare the space, offer to sleep on the hideaway in the living room, and put the guests in YOUR room.

Remember, they've come a long way and likely spent a pretty penny to get there. Make them feel welcome and comfortable.

Extra towels are a MUST. I always stock the guest bathroom with fresh towels, and put a stack of extras at the foot of the bed. I can't think of anything that grosses me out more than using a towel after someone else - be it my own husband, children, or otherwise. Towels cost only a few dollars at Wal-Mart or Target. Plus? When your guests leave, you have new towels to add to your own rotation, as well.


One trick I learned on my first visit to Casa de Gabi was the guest basket. I loved having one of my own at her place, and have never let a guest sleep in my home without one since.


The contents vary by visitor and my anticipation of their likes/needs, but the gist is the same. Magazines, snacks, water bottles, and spare toiletry items. You know never what you'll forget at home on a trip, and it's nice to have it on hand.


I also call each visitor a few days before their arrival and ask if there are any drinks/foods/snacks that they'd like me to pick up. My mother-in-law's drink of choice is far different from my own, and I know it makes her happy to find it waiting oh-so-cold in the fridge. If there are kids coming, what do they like for breakfast? What passes for a morning meal around here may not work for someone else's kids. Everyone is most comfortable when familiar foods abound.

Another thing I like to do is have a stack of recently-read books on the nightstand. I am not necessarily a book saver - if I've read it and liked it, I am happy to pass it on to the next person.

Plus? Maybe your guests are speed readers and have plowed through their 18 books on the plane or in the car. (No, Daniel, I'm not talking to you. I realize you're barely literate). But it's always a nice treat to have a new book to read or put on your list to be read next.


Lastly, be prepared with fun ideas in various price ranges for sight-seeing. Your guests have not likely prepared an itinerary of every local spot they want to hit. They are relying on you to know the best restaurants and sights to see in YOUR city. Have ideas ready so you're not spending half a day trying to decide what to do.

So, now I just have to ask, who is going to come visit next? Your room is all ready...