HG: Annie Payne Column November 22, 2008

Prepare to give holiday guests a warm stay

When they entered the Emerald City, Dorothy and her friends received a head-to-toe makeover.

When Belle arrived at the Beast’s enchanted castle, the candlesticks and dishes sang and danced for her.

When Julie Robert’s character, Vivian, in “Pretty Woman” became the guest of “a very special guest” at the Regent Beverly Wilshire — the “REG-BEV-WIL,” as Vivian’s pithy friend Kit called it — the manager of the hotel taught Vivian table manners and showed her where to buy a cocktail dress.

Modern convention doesn’t dictate that you sing, dance or style the hair of your house guests, but there are some things that you can do to help your guest feel that your “casa es su casa.”

Here are some tips for making a guest feel comfortable as a part of the household.


Whether you are lucky enough to have a spare bedroom or your guests will be bunking in one of the kid’s rooms, make sure they have the essentials.

Provide them with a bedside lamp, an alarm clock and a phone.

No phone jack in that room? At least, make sure there is an accessible electrical outlet so they can
charge their mobile phone.

Take a cue from well-run hotels. Place fresh flowers in the room and provide a basket of “goodies” for your guests. The basket might include a new toothbrush, a map of the area, if they will be sight-seeing on their own, snacks and a bottle of water.

Adding a “goodie basket” to your guest room lets them know you put some time and thought to their visit.

Don’t know if your spare room is guest-worthy? Spend a night in it and see how you feel.

Is the room too hot at night? Maybe the bed is too cold by the window. Are the lights and sounds of the computer too loud? Will your guests be able to find the bathroom in the dark?


If space is at a premium in your home and you don’t have an extra room to offer, there are still some things you can do to be accommodating.

Don’t deny guests the civility of sheets because they are sleeping on the couch. Provide them with a complete set of bedding, just as if they were sleeping in a real bed.

Set aside some space for your guests’ things. Make room in closets and drawers or least offer them a stand for their suitcase. A small table or ottoman will work just fine.

Find a place for your company to sleep in the least busy part of the home. If the only available couch is in the family room, be aware of your guests’ sleeping schedule.

You may need to set aside your ritual of “Late Night with David Letterman” or the “Early Morning Show” until your company has gone home.


If your house is like mine, it takes three remotes to turn on the TV.

Take the time to show your guests how to use your cable or satellite remote controls. It may even be necessary to write out detailed instructions.

I remember visiting my mother-in-law for the first time and feeling guilty when I had accidentally canceled her daily recording of “All My Children.”

Help your guest avoid the embarrassment of inadvertently ordering from Pay-Per-View by showing them how your entertainment system works.

Your visiting friends and family also may need access to your computer. Consider creating a separate log-in for guests. This will help keep your information and their information private.


In this era of reduce, re-use, recycle, even the nicer hotels give their guests the option of using their bath towel more than once before laundering.

Give your guests the same option. But to avoid confusion at the towel bar, supply them with a towel that is a different color than your own.

Spare them the discomfort of playing Russian roulette with the used bath towels.


Even though you have company, life continues.

A good guest and host should be considerate of each other’s schedules. Nothing makes a guest feel more uncomfortable than feeling they are getting in the way.

Making your guest aware of the bathroom schedule is particularly important if the level of available hot water is an issue. Some people in the house might opt to bathe or shower at night to ensure everyone
has hot water.

It’s OK to ask a guest to pitch in around the house. Any good guest will offer.

Food still needs to be prepared, laundry done and dishes washed.

But don’t use this as an opportunity to have an extra hand while cleaning the garage or building a deck.

Save the deep cleaning and home improvement projects for another time.

Whoever you may host this holiday season, be it a band of wizard seekers or a French girl with a curiously absent French accent , take the time to make them feel not just welcome, but that they are a part of the family.

For more on an unpredictable variety of other topics, visit Annie Payne’s “Anniethology” blog online at Anniethology.blogspot.com.


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