’Tis the season to welcome friends and family to stay. A bit of prep – and a few finishing touches – before they arrive means a relaxed time for everyone words.
Declutter and clean
First things first: give your home a good clean, then clear away as many of your personal belongings as possible from the areas your guests will be using, such as the bedroom and bathroom. “Empty a drawer in the bedroom, make space in the wardrobe and leave extra hangers so they can unpack. Make sure there’s space in a wardrobe or under the bed, so they can store their empty suitcases,” says Abbie Allen, personal concierge and founder of Lifestyle Elements. “On the day your guests arrive, open the windows in the bedroom and burn a scented candle, so it smells fresh and clean.”
Mastering the logistics is key, according to Angie Kelso, CEO of Platinum Housekeeping. “Remove your items from the bathroom counter, so guests can put their toiletries on the vanity,” she says. “It’s also a nice touch to leave a laundry bag for their washing.”
>> See our ultimate guide to decluttering
Do a test run
“Pretend you’re a visitor in your own home and spend a night in the guest room,” says Angie. “Is it too hot? Quiet enough? Is the bed comfy? If you aren’t comfortable, your guests won’t be either.” The simplest way to make the bed look inviting is with “fresh crisp white bedlinen to make an impact”, says Angie. “Add extra pillows and a throw. Leave fresh folded towels and face washers on the end of the bed.”
“If your guests have children, find out beforehand if they’ll need a travel cot or mattress on the floor,” says Abbie. Make sure bedside lamps are easily accessible and “leave tissues, water, a clock, phone charger, notepad and pen on the bedside table”, says Abbie. Finally, make the room feel luxurious. “Provide some current mags to read, a scented candle and place a vase of flowers on the dressing table.”
Add a bit of hotel luxury
It’s not expensive to make your bathroom feel like a hotel. “Supply plenty of clean soft, fluffy towels,” says Angie. “A good trick is to colour code towels for each person so they can keep the same ones for the duration of their stay.” Before guests arrive, let them know they can save space in their suitcase by leaving basic toiletries at home. “Leave full bottles of shower gel, shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom. Put soap, hand lotion, moisturiser, room freshener, facial wipes and a hairdryer in a basket.”
It’s not just about the glamour factor though; the practical things are just as important. “Make sure the plugs for the bath and washbasin are easy to find,” says Abbie. “Ensure there is plenty of loo roll that’s easily accessible so guests don’t have to ask you for it. A container of cleaning wipes under the sink is also handy in case people like to wipe down the sink or countertop after they’ve used it. Make sure there is a bin, and the toilet brush is clean.” Adding a bunch of flowers to the bathroom vanity is an easy way to keep it fresh and vibrant.
>> See 10 bathroom basic tips
Make them feel at home
“Give your guests their own set of keys so they can come and go as they please,” says Abbie. “They’ll feel more at home if they don’t have to ring the doorbell every time they come in. Don’t forget to give them the code for any alarms you might have, show them how to work them, and mention where you hide spare keys in case of an emergency.” Give your guests all the info, such as your phone number and address on a card, suggests Angie. “It’s handy for them to have these details in case they get lost or catch a taxi home,” she says.
Give plenty of information
If you won’t be at home the whole time your guests are, then put together an information folder so they can navigate both your house and the neighbouring area. “Include a local map, things to do, points of interest, directions to the nearest coffee shop, shopping centre, park, local gym, pool or beach,” says Angie. “If they’ll be using public transport, buy a travel card topped up with $20, instructions on how to use it, directions to the closest bus/train/ferry and timetables, plus phone numbers of taxi companies. Leave any important phone numbers for family and friends, and emergency numbers for the electrician, plumber, security, doctor and dentist. Also give them the wi-fi password, instructions for the oven, microwave, coffee machine and air conditioning.”
Let them know what your daily routine is so they know what to expect. “Note your shower times, breakfast routine and, if you are working, what time you leave and expect to arrive home. Don’t forget to let them know what day a cleaner or gardener comes, so they don’t get a fright!”
Before your guests arrive, find out if they have any special food requests or allergies, and stock up on anything they might need – even if it’s something you don’t like. “Show them where to find tea, coffee and snacks,” says Abbie. “Let them know the spots for cups and plates or leave a couple out on the benchtop so they can find them easily. Have a supply of breakfast items, including fresh fruit, in stock. If there are kids staying, mini cereal boxes are always a hit.”
Don’t neglect the drinks, either. “Ensure you have plenty of soft and alcoholic drinks available,” adds Angie. “Fill your pantry with extra champagne, beer and wine, plus nibbles to go with them. Keep a couple of small bottles of water in the fridge for them to take when they venture out and about.”
Get as much done as possible before your guests arrive, so you can spend the first few hours with them. “Be organised and prepare your first meal in advance,” says Angie. “Have the shopping done, the table set, drinks ready and food prepared. Then you can relax and enjoy each other’s company.”