10 Ways to Plan Ahead for House Guests

Vase of Flowers Guest Bedroom Table

Helen Rushbrook / Stocksy United

If you love having family and friends stay at your home, you might have wonderful ideas of your own about how to spend the time together. But if you dread the work, the cooking, the endless deciding what to do, and all the laundry when they leave, you might want to read our tips for entertaining house guests.

The commotion is augmented by already-full days of work, kids' activities, cooking, and running errands. If your schedule includes a visit from family members or special friends, a bit of planning and organization ahead of time will help the time fly, and both you and your guests will be looking forward to the next visit.

Offer a Small Welcome Gift

Let your guests know that you're happy they're with you by leaving a small "welcome gift" in their bedroom. A sachet, paperback book, flyers of local attractions at museums or clipping with movie listings at the movie theater are good options. And a pretty vase with fresh flowers is always a welcome gift! Don't forget a short note to greet them.

Plan Every Meal

Make a schedule of meals for the time your guests will be with you. That doesn't mean that you have to cook for them all. If your visitors are going to be with you for a couple of days, you might be able to prepare most things ahead of time. If the visit is extended, include dining out options, both informal and special. You can call for pizza, and ask your guests to plan and prepare a meal or two. Make a checklist of menus and ingredients, how many you'll have to feed, who will be in charge, and who will clean up.

If you have special activities planned, include the meal start times and departure times, so everyone is ready on time.

Don't Try to Do It All

There's no better way to make a house guest feel uncomfortable than to be working, cleaning, and cooking the whole time your guests are with you. Give you and your guests a chance to relax and enjoy each other. No one will care if the kitchen is sparkling or the sheets are ironed. And when there is work to do, accept every offer wash the dishes or set the table. Be a team and let everyone help out.

Have a Plan

Make a written list of things to do and try to have a loose schedule for each day of the visit. Don't waste time planning at the last minute or the time will fly by. Once you've all decided what you'll do, make sure everyone is ready to go as scheduled.

Plan for Private Visits and "Downtime"

Don't schedule every minute of the visit. Be sure you can spend time just visiting, playing card games, assembling a puzzle, reading a book, or doing crossword puzzles. Ask one guest to go on errands with you so you can visit one-on-one. Suggest a special movie for cousins of the same age. Send someone on a mission with one of your children. This "downtime" will undoubtedly create special memories.

Plan for Play Time

Do you notice how little ones always want to show you their favorite new toy or read their newest book? Allow for plenty of time doing just what they want. Ask about their friends, their schoolwork, their sports, and their thoughts. This special one-on-one time is what memories are made of.

Prepare Your Guest Room

Be sure to have a comfortable guest room made for your quest. This is an important tip even for the shortest visits.

Get out of the House

With extra people in the house, you might feel overwhelmed. Check out schedules for plays, concerts, movies, or museum exhibitions. If you are able, buy the tickets so that there's no excuse for not going. Be sure everyone knows the schedule.

Have Fun Outside

Depending on the weather where you live, plan a long hike, a bike ride, go ice skating at a local rink or even plan a picnic in the local park. If it's too chilly, drive away to a new town for luncheon at a charming cafe, hike indoors around the local mall, or visit a rec center where everyone can work out on their machine or activity of choice.

Show and Tell

For an activity that doesn't cost a penny, give your guests a tour of your lives. Visit your children's school, show off your daughter's music school or your son's workout gym. Take a break with a stop at a favorite coffee shop or ice cream parlor. Or plan a day tour of your hometown's hot spots or historic landmarks.