Know Your Limits
The first rule of thumb, says entertaining expert Dana Christine, is to know the limits of your home and don't invite more guests than you or the house can accommodate. If children are on the guest list, determine if you'll need to line up a babysitter if adult-only outings are on the schedule; if pets will be visiting as well, either make it clear that they're welcome in the house or offer up contact info for local kennels.
Most importantly, Christine says to establish arrival and departure dates and avoid inviting friends and family for an open-ended stay. \"If you can't handle guests for more than a week, don't be shy about setting limits. This puts everyone on the same page and avoids surprises.\"
Create a Retreat
\"To help rejuvenate their spirits, give the guest room a 'bed-and-breakfast' feel,\" says interior designer Kevin Simon. Dress the bed with fresh linens and blankets and use baskets to hold towels and toiletries. For the ultimate guest experience, provide robes and slippers.
Offer Drinks on Arrival
So guests don't feel like they have to forage for food the minute they arrive, be sure to supply them with snacks and beverages on a tray.
Stock Up on Toys
If your home is an ode to artful arrangements and small children are on the way, this is a good time to put away your most precious objects. A basket of dollar-store toys and books will occupy them while the adults catch up. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn, Decor Demon.
Provide Designated Storage Space
Equip the room with a bench or luggage rack for their suitcases or for guests staying more than one or two days, clear out a few dresser drawers so they can completely unpack.
Make Guests Feel at Home
Leave out magazines and books and gather postcards so guests can have a take-home memento.
Rely on a Simple Breakfast Buffet
It's best to rely on simple meals and appetizers for your guests that can be prepared before they arrive and just heated come time to eat. For breakfast, Pam Hix relies on doughnuts, bagels, pastries and a variety pack of single-serving cereal boxes for an easy morning feast that stays fresh for late-sleeping guests.
Make the Bathroom Guest-Ready
And don't forget to spruce up the bathroom, says event planner Damon Pease. \"Simple indulgences like fresh flowers and candles make guests feel welcome.\"
Make Guests Feel Comfortable in the Kitchen
So you're not waiting on your guests hand and foot, \"make a list of where items are in the kitchen,\" says organizing expert Pam Hix and let guests help themselves. Point out where plates and glasses are as well as what food you have in the fridge.
Keep Guests Satisfied Until Dinner
For mid-day munchies, offer a crudité and fruit platter and a couple of warm chip-and-dip combos to keep everyone satisfied until dinner. Also, be sure to have an ample supply of bottled water so guests can grab and go.
Act as a Local Tour Guide
To keep everyone on track \"write the day's events and weather forecasts on a chalkboard,\" says Kevin Simon. If guests will be spending time on their own, make sure they have a spare house key so they can come and go as they please. Also, supply them with a travel packet of brochures and a city map and \"be sure to place a big X on the map to point out where your home is,\" offers Pam Hix.