Recently, we had a total of 12 people in our house overnight for multiple holiday celebrations. We moved to a new house this year and finally had the room to accommodate a big family overnight gathering. With each family member’s RSVP of “yes,” our excitement grew, but there was also planning and prep work that took place to make the trip enjoyable. And in retrospect, there were things I wish I had done to make the trip even better for everyone, including myself.
This post isn’t about putting together the perfect welcome gift basket, how to fold the bed sheets or what discussion topics to avoid when you have overnight guests. This post has simple tips for hosting friends or family in your home for multiple days and how to still emerge on speaking terms and how to take care of yourself during the process!
Here are my 5 Tips to Prevent Problems When Hosting Overnight Guests:
- Discuss Your Expectations with Your Partner
It starts simple enough, you or your partner suggest hosting guests and you get giddy with excitement about the upcoming visit. You forget the logistical issues like how many bath towels and beds you’ll need and throw caution to the wind.
But first things first, after that initial decision, talk to your partner about expectations. Hosting is a team effort and both of you should have a say about the duration of stay, activities, and rules about the visit.
- What are you and your partner hoping to do with the guests during the visit?
- What helps you relax and manage self-care during the visit?
- Who will be responsible for getting everything ready for the visit? And what exactly needs to be done before the visit? (Does the living room really need to be painted? And how much toilet paper do we need). All very important questions!
- Discuss the Stay with Your Guests
This seems like a no-brainer, but not communicating with your guests about the stay can be the origin of many problems. Say, for example, you are really hoping to make a very special pork roast and you all sit down for dinner and the guests inform you that do not eat pork. Not so great. So, take the time to talk about your guests’ food preferences and allergies. Ask your guests about some of their favorite foods, and if you are hosting around the holidays, ask about their favorite holiday foods. You should also talk to your guests about their arrival day and time and departure time. As a host, be flexible about meal preparation on arrival days (make something like creamy wild rice soup that can be reheated easily and set out with bread, cheese, and crackers). Schedules shift and unexpected things happen so save your very special meal or activity for the day when you know everyone will be there. Ask your guests their expectations for the trip, what types of activities do they want to do while they visit? Sometimes, guests will need you to take the initiative and plan or suggest ideas. Shopping, coffee shops, donuts, indoor play areas, parks? Need ideas? TCMB has super helpful guides for each month, season and grouped by activity.
- Make Easy and Uncomplicated Recipes and Meals
Hosting guests is a time when you want to make people feel special but spending the whole time in the kitchen will without a doubt, burn you out. So instead, opt for easy and uncomplicated meals. I like to make a menu plan for the visit, which helps for grocery shopping and doesn’t create last minute trips out to the store or expensive dining out trips. Think simple, like easy baked ham sandwiches, soups, casseroles like a Tater Tot Hotdish or salads that can be easy to assemble and set out buffet style. It’s also not the time to break out a super complicated or new recipe with difficult directions. Opt for simple meals, make a fun wine cocktail and sit down with your guests and catch up.
- Get Out of the House and Take Breaks
Everyone gets stir crazy when you’ve been in the house for days and this is especially true when you have house guests. So make time to explore your community and state with your guests. If you are looking for special events in the Twin Cities, check out the TCMB monthly calendar with special and specific activity ideas. Even a simple trip to a local kid-friendly coffee shop can be a perfect opportunity to let the kids burn off some energy and allow the parents to sip some coffee and talk. It’s also important during hosting to make time for self-care for you, so if that means getting to your local fitness center and taking your favorite exercise class, do it! Who knows, your guests may also want to join in exercising too.
- Ask for Help with Meals and Household Activities
A guest never wants you to feel overwhelmed, but sometimes they aren’t sure how to help. Help your guests help you by actually asking for what you need. Ask for help cleaning up the kid toys, preparing a meal or buying donuts or bagels for a breakfast or helping unload the dishwasher. These small tasks can help you feel not so overwhelmed and makes the guest feel like they are showing gratitude to you for the stay.
While hosting overnight guests can at times feel overwhelming, we should be honest about expectations, and at the same time, take care of ourselves during the process.