The holidays – the food, fun, cheer and festivities wouldn’t be the same without our families and loved ones around. Often this mean we need to open up our arms and our homes to those who do not live near to us. A house that sits empty most of the year suddenly swells, thrives and becomes very much alive this time of year. Whether our recent graduates are home from college, our oldest children are visiting with their own children, or our parents decide to pay us a visit, our lives and lifestyles will be temporarily altered. Entertaining a constant flow of friends and family for an extended period of time, especially during the busy season, can be tedious, draining and often stressful. While we want to always keep our doors open, we want to do so in a manner that is neither disruptive or imposing. Mi casa es su casa. My home is your home… more or less.
Hosting family can be a bit trickier than hosting friends. The less you’ll have to do for your guests while they’re staying with you, the better it will be all around. The key to a successful family visit is communication and organization. It is possible for families of different generations and lifestyles to live together (albeit temporarily) in harmony under the same roof. As hosts, you can set the stage and tone.
Make your home welcoming and make your guests feel at home and at ease. After many years of having fled the nest, oldest children with families of their own may no longer feel that their childhood home is their own. For those guests who are not family, who may be staying for the first time, it’s always a nice gesture to take time to show everyone where things are that they may need, especially those items such as glasses, mugs, coffee maker, tea kettle, wine, wine glasses, that are most often used. Show your guests how to work the coffee maker or tea kettle if need be, so that if they get up before you do, they can help themselves to a morning beverage. You may want to stock your fridge and pantry with items for your guests. This need not get too complicated – simple snacks like crackers, cheese, nuts and fruit should suffice. Drinks like water, seltzer, perhaps a bottle of wine or two ought to be plenty.
Make your guests feel right at home in their room, whether it’s a designated guestroom or a guest room-office, or a childhood bedroom. Fresh flowers always add a lovely and a personal touch. Make sure all lights and lamps have working bulbs. Locate any necessary remote controls and make sure the batteries are working. Arrange to have some magazines, either local or those of areas of their interest, on hand, as well as some paper, pens, envelopes and stamps. If your internet network requires a password, share the access code with your guests. You may want to leave some fresh towels on a chair or leave a basket for them filled with towels, soaps and shampoo, as this adds a bit of a personal and pampering touch.
Be sure to let your guests in on your routines. Let them know if you are up particularly early or late, or if you run out to go to the gym, or go to work at a specific time. You’ll want your guests to feel free to come and go and therefore you may want to give them a house key or the password to your alarm. You should inform them of prior obligations you may have, either during the daytime or evening hours, as well as activities you would like them to be present for. This will allow your guests to plan ahead as well and enable them to visit old friends and loved ones.
If you have grandchildren staying with you, or nieces and nephews, you may want to try to make your house as child friendly as possible. This isn’t meant to say go to extremes and rearrange all your furniture, but if you have fragile and expensive items that mean a lot to you, you may want to think about moving or removing them altogether. Perhaps suggest that children stay out of the living room, but are more than welcome to use and enjoy the family room. There’s nothing wrong with setting boundaries. If you have the space, perhaps designate a cabinet or fill a basket with toys and like items for the children to play with. In the kitchen, have plastic or disposable cups and plates on hand for the younger set if you’re worried about them handling glass or ceramics. Talk to your children about the needs and schedules of their children; young ones need routine, especially during the holidays. Start a dialogue while holiday plans are still in the planning stages so that both hosts and guests can make the most and best of their visit.
What do you do to accommodate family and guests who stay for an extended period of time? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
Images 1 – 5 via Veranda, 6 Traditional Home