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Monday, May 4, 2009

A great nest for great guests

Mr. Decor and I entertain and open our home to guests quite regularly. Time and again we hear comments such as "You make everything look so easy and flow so smoothly."
The key is advanced planning.
I thought I would share some of my favorite tips with you, as the vacation and visiting season swiftly approaches.

I'll begin in the sleeping area. I firmly believe that a restful nights sleep begins with clean, comfortable bedding. I adore sheets made from 100% Pima or Egyptian cotton. My personal preference is a sateen weave, which makes for a baby soft sheet. Make the sure the mattress and pillows are in good condition. I recommend that once a year you sleep in your guest area just to make sure things are comfortable. I also include a fan and an extra blanket in the room so that our guests can have control over the temperature they prefer.

Next to the bed I place a carafe of water, and fresh flowers. I also like to leave a night light available.

Although some people prefer candles for scent, I like to spritz a bit of lavender water on the linens. A clock is also appreciated.

Make sure there is an area where they can place their luggage. If you have an empty drawer or available closet space you can point this out to your guests.

In the room I always leave some reading material~ a book, magazines and brochures and maps of things to do in our area. Visitors traveling from a different time zone often are awake when the rest of the household sleeps. This provides your guests with something to quietly occupy their time.

In the bathroom I always leave out a few sets of clean towels. It doesn't have to be anything as fancy as this. (Smile.)

A bar of fresh soap, bath beads and shampoo is a well appreciated touch.

You might want to leave a few q tips, cotton balls, a new toothbrush and toothpaste in a basket near the sink in case they have forgotten anything. Mr. Decor regularly restocks these items for me when he travels on business.

The biggest area of preparation lies in the area of meals. I plan and shop for our menu in advance. This saves me from the headache of learning I am out of a key ingredient. I cook a few things in advance and stick them in the freezer. After a long day of sightseeing it is nice to just pop a lasagna in the oven.
Here is sweet boy helping me make a few loaves of lemon tea bread and banana bread to freeze.

I also set the table ahead of time. This ensures that my plates, silverware and cups are sparkling and the napkins are pressed and ready to go. After each meal the dishes are washed and just reset onto the table ensuring that the next meal will be just as easy.

I like to use place cards. Often cloth napkins can be used for more than one meal and this way it is easy to remember who sat where. I had created a nest theme for the centerpiece so I ran some card stock through the printer, punched out the names and taped them to a toothpick which was stuck it into some nests I had used in our Easter decor.

In the kitchen I leave a tray set up with cups, tea, coffee, water and other drinks so guests can help themselves. There is also a bowl of fruit available and I show my guests where things are stored in the cupboards and pantry. You never know when the munchies might strike.

You may wonder why I go to such lengths to please my guests. I have found by doing these simple things we actually have more time to visit with our guests and we all have a wonderful and relaxing time.

Of course there are always some things that can't be done ahead of time. I used to exhaust myself by not allowing anyone to help me. Then I read a quote that changed my outlook:
"When you refuse the offer of help, you also deny the other person the opportunity to feel helpful."
This struck me very deeply as I remembered how I had at times felt simply useless while visiting in someone else's home.

To allow a guest to be helpful is to let them know you are so glad that they are there and that they are welcome.
As a guest, if you are helpful, there is a better chance that you will be invited back.

Thank you Pop and Grammie Gunn for being such great guests. We can't wait to see you again.

Got a burning question~design or otherwise? Please leave a comment or email me. I will respond in an upcoming post.


Evening Shade Morning Latte said...

Oh I just love this post. Well, let me correct myself...I just love your blog! It's so wonderful!!

knitandputt said...

great post, and something to think about. I too, when having guest wanted them just to sit and enjoy themselves, but, two of us in the kitchen could be fun also. thanks, for another way to look at it

Housewife Savant said...

YES I DO have a burning question...

First, about this post; does sleeping in the guest quarters because Mr Savant snores like a panzer tank count as examining the quality of my bedding?
Yes, I think it does.

In kitchen reno I don't know whether to get a white cast iron sink or stainless. (I was honestly going to pick your brain on this.)
I have white appliances. There won't be any stainless in the room, but the surface surrounding the sink will be charcoal gray-ish flecked laminate.
Does that matter?


Mary Grace McNamara said...

Laura, thanks for the useful tips on hosting guests in the home. Planning ahead makes all the difference, even if it means just making sure the pull-out sofa still pulls out and that the sheets and towels are clean!

I also like the tip about allowing your guests to be helpful. It's much more fun for everyone that way!


Mildred said...

Such an inspirational post Laura. I can't believe how tall your son is! Is that Rudi snuggling up to Mrs. Gunn? Thanks for all the great tips and I hope you enjoy your day.

Jade Creative said...

Laura, you are very organized. I also try to make it comfortable for my guests, having towels, water etc. in the room they will be staying. All of this preparation ahead of time makes for less running around when they arrive. Our household however, is not very organized with the dinner dish doing. Quite often dishes are stacked but not washed till the next morning. It all depends on the energy level that evening.
Have a wonderful day!

Linda said...

Such lovely ideas, Laura, as always! :) Our home is very small and we don't have a "real guestroom", rather the guestroom is shared with the office, but as you pointed out, there are still many things one can do to provide a welcoming nest to guests. Thanks for your beautiful post and hope you have a great week,

A Touch of Country said...

Great ideas. My aunt carol is always doing these things and I feel so much at home when I go visit. She always has meals planned and the table set. The bedroom always has an abundance of new magazines and books for me to look at as well as comfy pillows and sheets.

In her closet she keeps an empty luggage rack ready for suitcases.

In the bathroom she keeps of basket of guest essentials and a supply of new toothbrushes!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I agree with everything you said, Laura! And what a neat post! Loved it!


Sheila :-)

The French Bear said...

I love to do all sorts of special things for my guest too. I think it makes us feel good to spoil our guests. I agree, when they offer help, take it, it validates both of us...
Margaret B

Kirsty said...

What a lovely post. I would like to be a guest at your house :)

Donna said...

When can I visit? Though, I may never leave....

Robin Thomas: A Nest With a View said...

Miss Luara, you have set the stage for a lovely visit for your guests. Now, how on earth do you get them to LEAVE!?!

White Linen ~ Lavender Field said...

What an elegant post. And very helpful to your readers. Advanced planning is a must when someone visits our home too. Thank you for the quote on 'letting guests help'.

Carrie said...

Looks like your guests are well taken care of. Beautiful room.

Muthering Heights said...

You are such a lovely hostess! I will certainly be using some of your ideas. :)

Craftymoose Crafts said...

You make everything so warm & inviting---I'll come visit you, anytime!

Becky said...

Ohhhh, I love those chairs in the picture for tea. The backs are beautiful!!! Does it say where to buy those????? I think I need a couple.....

Really Rainey said...

Those are absolutely wonderful ideas to make guests feel comfortable... I too have a very comfortable guest room and Hubby always teases me saying "If its too comfortable guests will stay too long"

I LOVE your idea for making things ahead of time and the resetting of the table! What a great idea! I can't do that tho cause I don't have a formal dining room anymore, but if I did I would so do that! Cause your right... that does give you more time with your guests...

But there is one more thing I need to comment on:
That saying:
"When you refuse the offer of help, you also deny the other person the opportunity to feel helpful."

I have felt the same way at times... So I am going to take people up on offers from now on!
Thank you Laura!

~Really Rainey~

Kathy said...

Such excellent advice. I will have to remember to let my guests help me. I always try to do it all myself and I too feel like a 3rd wheel visiting friends who do the same thing. Thank you

Anna Lindsey Sailer O'Reilly said...

How delightful! Thank you for this lovely post. I picked up a few great tips. I especially like the idea of having a carafe of water in the bedroom.

Joy said...

I have a question: when are you opening up your bed and breakfast? :o)

Such a Wondrous Place this Faery Space said...

Everything looks gorgeous, but, I picture sitting with those amazing needles and yarn and oooohh... heaven! It is so thoughtful that they are a large size needle because you really could finish a cute scarf, then, in a weekend. Smart and again, thoughtful.
Laura what a blessing you must be.

Linda said...

I love today's post. I try to think of things to make my guests comfortable as well. It is fun to see how creative you can be and know your guests don't have to aske for anything!

kari and kijsa said...

Such a yummy post filled with so much inspiration!! Your guests are set!! Love the little nest place cards too!!
kari & kijsa

tspwlv said...

I needed that reminder about letting guests help. Thanks!

Allidink said...

You are the best at making a guest feel comfortable! Wow you just make sure there is nothing that they could want for :) This post is very inspiring! As in I aspire to be as good at this as you are some day LOL. Those place settings are absolutely adorable!

All the best,

Liz said...

All very helpful ideas! Your home must be a lovely place to visit! :) Are you through with your finals?


laurie @ bargain hunting said...

Ok, I wanna be a guest at your house! Everything looks so lovely, and you are so considerate of your guests needs. Thanks for all of the pointers. Love those bird nest place cards. laurie

DesignTies said...

Great tips, thanks!!

I redecorated the guest bedroom recently, complete with new bed linens and pillows and mattress. So I have the comfortable bed covered :-) Now I'll have to work on the other details!!

Kelly @ DesignTies

MaryRC said...

wow can i stay with you please?? i do have a question, i found you via housewife savant. any ideas on what to do with farm chairs? click here to see what I'm talking about.. ugh!

heather said...

I'd love to be a guest at your house! :)

Thanks for all these tips. I've made mental notes on all of it. I'm now (and will forever be) living away from my "home" and therefore most of my family and a lot of my friends. I hope that I get many guests from now on!

Susie Q said...

Can we get the recipe for lemon tea bread

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