Whether it’s your in-laws, your best friend from college or your favorite aunt, when you open your home to overnight guests, you want them to feel welcome and comfortable. Don’t think you have to have a designated guest room, however; even if you’re simply pulling out the sleeper sofa in the living room, a few small touches go a long way in making your guests feel at home.
Water: A thirsty guest shouldn’t have to wander into the kitchen looking for a nighttime drink of water – anticipate their need by leaving a water pitcher and glass on the nightstand, or set out a couple of bottled waters.
Snacks: While the closest of friends are generally comfortable about raiding your refrigerator, many guests feel a bit shy about asking for a snack. Stave off discomfort and satisfy the munchies with a basket of fruit, nuts, crackers or candies near the bed.
Nightlight: Waking up in a dark, strange room can be disconcerting, especially when nature calls during the night and the bathroom is down the hall. A small nightlight will prevent bumped knees or stubbed toes if your guests need to find their way through the dark. This is especially important if you are hosting an elderly guest who might be prone to falls, or a child who is afraid of the dark.
Luggage rack: Living out of a suitcase isn’t fun for long, but you can make it more tolerable by providing a luggage rack for your houseguests. This also creates a space below their suitcase for shoes, dirty clothing or other belongings.
Extra blanket: Nothing is worse than waking up shivering and not knowing where the extra blankets are stored. Don’t make your guests bundle up in several layers of clothing or knock on your door during the night – ward off any chill by leaving an extra blanket folded across the bottom of the guest bed.
Eye mask: It’s hard to sleep in a bedroom that’s lighter than you’re used to – a not-uncommon situation for overnight guests. Providing a satin sleep mask not only helps your guests sleep more soundly, it’s also a little luxury that feels rather glamorous. You can find satiny eye masks quite inexpensively at Target or through Amazon.com, so purchase a pretty one and invite your guests to take their eye masks home at the end of their stay.
Sound machine: Nearby traffic noise, barking dogs, crying babies… unfamiliar nighttime sounds are a common cause of poor sleep while traveling. Sound machines – some have a variety of nature sounds, like rainfall or crashing waves, some just produce a hissing white noise – help block out voices, snoring or other disturbances, thus allowing your guests to get a good night’s sleep.
Wi-Fi and other passwords: Once night falls, your guests will almost certainly want to upload pictures of their trip, watch a little TV or update their Facebook status. To do that easily, they’ll need to access online services, so stave off questions by printing out a list of necessary passwords: Wi-Fi, Netflix, Amazon Prime or any other streaming service you use.
Charger: Cell phones, tablets, laptops… your guests are sure to have at least one electronic device to charge overnight. Simplify the procedure by providing a charging station in the guest room. No need for an expensive purchase – check out Target or Walmart for inexpensive chargers that allow several devices to plug in the same time.
Toiletries: In the hubbub of packing, it’s easy to forget small necessities like toothpaste, deodorant or hair styling products. You don’t need to stock a drugstore, but a few sample-size basic toiletries on the dresser or in a basket in the bathroom show your guests that you really want them to feel at home, and that you cared enough to prepare for their visit.
Flowers: This isn’t a must, but walking into the guest bedroom and finding a bouquet of flowers awaiting them is a sure way to make your visitors feel special.