Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Making Houseguests Comfortable and Welcome

We are having a house guest later this week so with it I am preparing some extra things for her. And decided to take a look at an essay I wrote on the subject to make sure I am not missing anything. FetLife Domestic Servitude group also had a good thread on this subject.

Making Houseguests Comfortable and Welcome

Growing up my Mom was the hostess with the mostest and she is still the same today. Everything my Mom does to make guests feel comfortable in her house just seems so effortless. She always has those extra special touches around just waiting for a guest. Whether it was finding out a guest’s favorite soda, having just the right lotion, a basket of magazines or snacks ready. She even has a book on hand that you have dying to read. It was just all there waiting for you as her guest.

In addition to the small things, she’s always prepared for out-of-town guests staying over night or two. The guest room is prepared with the linen and an extra set of towels or two are always ready. Growing up we moved far away from family and friends. My Mom left the welcome mat at our door with that intent to truly make those that come into our home feel welcome whenever they found themselves nearby and wanted to stay a night or two. Looking back, I know this is probably where I get –it- from. Her desire to make people feel comfortable and ability to anticipate the nuances of someone staying with them is what makes her so good at being a good hostess and why she makes it look effortless.

I think after Master’s first visit with my parents, he understood my skills for entertaining and having guests because I think it just in my genes. Although I do enjoy entertaining and having guests over, I don’t feel I have been able to make it completely effortless as my Mom has been able to do. There is a lot of effort, time and thought that goes into entertaining guests. For me, it’s not just about straightening up the house. Once you have the initial preparations under control, it becomes easier every time I entertain guests thereafter.

Being Master’s property and entertaining guests, however – takes me to a much different mindset and place. It is my duty to him to be of service and as his property everything I do is direct reflection on him so making his house warm and welcoming for out of town guests is always upfront in my mind. It isn’t that I wouldn’t have tried to make it warm and welcoming if I weren’t in service but I am just more aware of every detail because I am a reflection of him. So hopefully his guest’s create special memories and positive experiences from their stay with us.

Although there are many topics of how to entertain guests I am going to focus on just two aspects of entertaining: the guest room and the guest bathroom. If your guests are going to stay over, you need to focus on creating that “home away from home” feeling for your guests.


Creating Space in the Room
• Livable Room: We all know that guest rooms tend to be that room where everything gets dumped that we don’t use that often: The exercise bike we haven’t used for 2 years, an old coat rack that with mounds of coats and scarves burying it so you can’t even see the stand itself, TV trays Uncle Ed and Aunt Emma gave you for Christmas, the extra dining room chairs that you don’t want to clutter up the dining room and so on and so forth. It is now time to make that space a guest room. Try to get rid of the things that you don’t need. Find other places for those things that aren’t needed at the moment. Those TV trays into a hall closet. Exercise bike to a family room where it might get used. Try to clear the room out enough to make it comfortable and inviting for your guests.

• Closet: Your guest will undoubtedly need a little space to hang their clothes. So create space in your closet and provide some sturdy hangers. If you absolutely can’t create a place in the closet, provide an over-the-door hook/hanger for the outside of the closet door.

• Place for Suitcase/Personal items: Have luggage rack, bench or small table to set a suitcase so that a person doesn’t have to kneel on the ground to look through their suitcase. A nice touch is having a drawer or two available in the room also.

Bed and Bedding
• Bed: Have a comfortable bed. We all know how sleeping on a pull out sofa can create a bad night sleep and body aches so try not to put your house guest through that by getting a foam pad to help make it a more comfortable place to sleep. Or are you using an old mattress in the guest room that you stopped using because it was hurting your back? Well don’t do that to your guests. You didn’t want to sleep on it why do you want to make your guests sleep on it.

• Sheets: Make the bed with clean good sheets and pillowcases. Want to take it up one more notch? Iron the sheets and pillow cases so there is no crease marks on them. Also have an extra set of linens folded and accessible for your guest as accidents do happen. It saves them some of the embarrassment if they can just take care of it themselves and only have to give you the dirty sheets.

• Blankets & Pillows: Remember in the summer time a lighter blanket might be more suitable so try to have season-appropriate blankets/linens on the bed. Place an extra blanket folded at the end of the bed. And also have an extra pillow or two available (actually at least one extra for every guest).

The Comforts
• A bedside table with a clock. Set the clock to the current time and if it is a clock radio set it to a good station. So that your guest doesn’t need to search through stations to find something.

• A pitcher or carafe of water with a glass (or two if there is more then one guest) Refill it each night and replace glasses with clean ones.

• Have a book, some magazines and a bedside light so your guests can read.

• A box of tissues and a wastebasket.

• Stationary, stamps, pens, scissors (for possibly cutting tags airport tags off), lotion and small sewing kit.

• Hang clean robe in the room to slip on to go the bathroom in and if possible provide slippers too.

• Flowers and candles make the room extra special. (But also be aware that some guests may have allergies so these type of things might cause them some problems.)

• Provide a night light as getting around a dark unfamiliar room will cause less stubbed toes.

• Place snacks, fresh fruits or chocolates in the room. Create a little basket of some treats for them to snack on late at night so they don’t have to navigate to the kitchen through a dark house.

• Pace a television, DVD player and movies in case they want to get away and just have some alone time - you have provided them an escape. Also remember to put the remote on the bedside table.

• And CD player with an assortment of music to wind down from a long flight into town.

• A chair in the room – some people don’t like to sit on a bed at all even to put their shoes or socks on so having that chair will make them more comfortable

• Provide tourist information – if your guest is going to do some local site seeing, they can browse through brochures to see what looks good to them. Include any local coupons to amusement parks or other area attractions.

• If you don’t have wired Internet service make sure to have an available phone line for your guests laptop.


The Basics
• Set out clean set of matching towels on the counter. Let guests know where extra towels are if needed.

• Stock with necessities – new bar of soap, fill liquid soap dispensers, fresh roll of toilet paper plus a back up roll easily attainable to your guest, fresh hand towel and bathmat

• A night light for your guest to get to the bathroom with ease in the middle of the night.

• Have a hair dryer and curling iron out for your guests to use.

• Bathroom cleaning supplies under the sink or in an easily visible area in case your guests desire to clean up after himself/herself.

A Basket of Extras
Think of all the things a guest might have forgotten in their packing. Or if they have been traveling a while also they might be running out of things and need fresh basics.

• Travel-size toiletries: Toothbrush (new in package), shampoo, conditioner, disposable razor, shaving cream, mouthwash
• Nail clippers, fingernail file and tweezers
• Q-tips & cotton balls
• Aspirin or ibuprofen
• Special Touches: Scented lotion or body wash, candles or bath salts and oils

You are now ready for overnight guests. Your guests aren’t expecting to be staying at a luxurious hotel but having a comfortable warm inviting home will make their stay better then a night at a hotel. As a service oriented slave giving 5-star service with personal touches is a good reflection of Master so something I strive for when having overnight guests.

I wrote this essay for Simply Service August 2008. Please subscribe to Simply Service so that it gets emailed to you.

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