It hasn’t been that long since I was married after a lengthy time (all my life) of being single. Apartment living and dwelling with roommates, I was pretty good at. Experienced in, rather.
But, married, owning a home? Total newb.
Husband and I wanted to have guests stay in our cute little house. Hosting friends and family sounded like a great idea.
How in the world do you do that anyway?
Obviously, Google would know. But no. Good ol’ Google let me down.
Hosting etiquette is a topic on the rise, yay, great, awesome. But little house hosting etiquette? Enter the crickets.
In light of the lack of “little house” hosting information pages out there, I decided to throw one together to cover the basics I’ve learned.
Our little house is right at 1598 square feet. That equates to three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and one, open living room/kitchen/dining area. The following tips and tricks should work for 2 bedrooms, as well, but for one shared washroom, there might be a few additional rules out there to be discovered. 😉
1. A neat, simple area for guests to stay in
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just needs to be clean. Fix it the way you’d want to find your hotel room when you go to vacation.
2. Have WiFi info on display
I use a chalkboard that stands on the nightstand (see picture in #1). It welcomes our guests, and gives basic information. WiFi is the most important, if the home has it. This way, they can link up their devices whenever they wish.
3. A wash area that’s prepped
My preps are threefold:
One, is everything as spotless as I can make it? Just like a hotel, no guest wants to find evidence of prior persons using their toilet. Or shower. Ick.
Two, a basic offering of soaps and lotion are available. I like the 3-in-1 soaps for in the shower. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash all in one bottle of goodness. Yes.
Three, a linen basket standing by for used towels. There is nothing quite as awkward as holding a dirty towel and not knowing where to put it. I always point mine out to guests when I show them where the towels are.
4. Bathroom odor coverage out
This gets its own point, because it is vital. Whether it’s Glade, AirWick, Febreze, or Poo-Pourri, have something placed in an obvious location. Your guests will thank you when they are able to cover their, um, proofs, in a more graceful scent. Especially in a little house, where everyone will be passing that room.
If you use Poo-Pourri like I do, I suggest framing that awesome instruction card they send when you order from their website. It takes the guesswork out of the situation for your guests and looks cute, too!
5. Have the kitchen ready
What’s the best part of having a loved one over? Eating together! So be sure and get your shopping done a day or two in advance. I go nuts sometimes, making meal plans for each meal, over-stocking the pantry with snacks, putting fruit out in a bowl, etc.
Be sure to have the kitchen clean, too. Any unrecognizable globs of leftover meals, and visitors will think your food is unsanitary. Trust me in this, even if that isn’t how you think. There is no shortage of germophobes in the world.
6. Provide laundry bags
Usually my guests are stressed before visiting, and it affects their packing: they never think what they’ll do with their dirty clothes. I hand my guests a Glad ForceFlex Trash Bag with Febreze to put their dirty clothes in on the first night. They are always grateful.
7. Understand temperature needs
Mom prefers it freezing. Grandma prefers it warm. No two people are alike. That means my Hostess skills will shine if I can plan accordingly.
Set the house to a good, middle-ground temperature. Mom’s room gets a fan. Grandma’s room gets a space heater and an extra blanket.
Ask, and your guests will let you know what they prefer. Don’t ask, and someone will be suffering in silence. Or, not. 😉
8. House eating habits/times
Every family is different in what they eat, be it gluten-free, vegan, health-minded, multiple small meals, or ‘three squares a day.’ Times for meals vary, as well.
Providing a brief description will help your guest settle in. If you happened to print out your meal time, now would be the appropriate time to hand it to them. 😀
9. House rules
This is one for younger visitors. Sure, parents can come in with their rules, but you, as the Hostess (Host) can state the expectations. Hitting, fighting, talking back- not in my house, sorry. Cell phones at the table? Not allowed.
Have a teen or college-age guest? You know your city. You know the dangers. Give them the ins and outs. What’s a reasonable hour to be able to lock the deadbolt? Is alcohol allowed? Do you require a designated driver? Set it up, talk it through.
10. Washroom rotations
Save yourself a headache with the hot water heater. Talk through who needs to be where, when they should get access to the hot water, and to generally tie up the washroom. In my house, it sounds like this:
Husband gets ready for work around 7:30am,
I usually catch a shower in the evening,
______, when do you need to get ready for your event?
______, will you be showering the evening before?
Our water heater takes about 30 minutes to become hot after being depleted.
What are your thoughts?
This conversation is great to have ahead of time if there are several young guests going to a fancy event. It can get real with two families trying to use the same hot water heater. (Or washroom.)
11. Establish cleaning expectations
Small houses get messy fast. Even without guests. Some of my guests have visited knowing full-well how hard it is to clean for a crowd and have offered to help with the cleaning duties. That’s why this one is here. I’m the type who hates to impose, but when asked, might relent a little.
The place I park is based on how well I know the person.
If we are close family, or like close family, I will let them touch the dishes, dishwasher, broom, and allow the folding of throw blankets and positioning of couch pillows.
If the guests are friends, I go to far lengths to keep them from cleaning. Maybe they can clear a dish from the table. Maybe. Not likely, though.
Kids are the great equalizer. I fully expect any young guests to pick up their toys and food wrappers, as these skills only come from repetition, which their parents are most likely trying to instill.
I go over my thoughts on this at the beginning, so everyone understands what their part is. My favorite thing to say to visitors is, “We want you to relax while you’re here.” My close friends insist that they can’t relax unless I am. I’m okay letting them pitch in when that’s the case. 😉
12. Alert to house weirdnesses
You know what I’m talking about.
“Oh, sorry. That door sticks. Just push it hard.”
“Uh, the fridge freezer door opens when you close the main door. Just, kinda, close them together.”
“The air conditioner sounds like a rocket taking off when it comes on. Promise, you’re safe.”
Alert your guests to any house sounds, quirks, or operational needs, especially if they involve water, electricity, or natural gas. That way they can co-exist without getting flustered, surprised, or annoyed.
13. Establish potential invasions of space
I keep my filing cabinet in the closet of the guest room. The stamps are in there. I need into that closet! If I verbally mention that I may need to grab something from the closet, it’s no big when it happens.
Consider everything in the room before guests arrive. Make them aware. Storage spaces in small houses are never enough.
14. Bedtime sensitivity
This one might seem a given, but if you have a Husband that needs to wake up early the next morning for work, or a child that needs to get to school, you might want to broach the subject at the start of the visit.
Even if a guest wants to stay up super-late, they can still be considerate with their volume.
Again, just talk it out.
15. Important room scents
I place laundry-scented wall plug-ins in the bathroom and guest rooms. This helps those rooms to feel homey, safe, and clean. If I’ve cooked spaghetti or burnt toast, I know their space will recover quickly and return to smelling nice.
If a visitor has sensitivity to smells, remove the scent graciously and quickly.
Remember, a successful Hostess (or Host) prepares so they appear to care about their guests’ needs.
Don’t stress out to get there; just get a list from Google, do it, and breathe easy. They are going to love visiting your cozy little house.