Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How to prepare for holiday guests

Isn’t it just marvellous to enter a serene, freshly made up room after a long drive in holiday traffic? As you enter, you can feel the holiday mood settling in and you just want to nestle in a comfy chair or fall onto the bed and sleep.

At the beginning of the week, plan your meals and refreshments for the week and shop accordingly.
When I receive guests, I like them to feel welcome, spoilt and at home at the same time, without me having to kill myself while everyone else has a lovely, relaxing time, leaving me grumpy and disgruntled.

Here’s how to prep for holiday guests….

1. Communicate and delegate

Before they start their journey, discuss what the guests would like to do while visiting. Identify their expectations and communicate your schedules and set rules to eliminate any stressful situations later on.

Enquire about food preferences and allergies and take the time to explain that you expect everyone to keep the home and bathrooms tidy.

Invite them to come empty-handed and to contribute to meals, take responsibility for shopping and even preparing some meals. If you know that a guest drinks excessively, ask that he provides his own booze. Involve the family and guests with decorating the house and the tree.

If the guests have small children, ask if they need provision of car seats, play pens and strollers. If they are past the ‘baby’ stage, have an appropriate basket with toys and books ready to occupy them.

Make your bedrooms comfortable and relaxing; taking a page out of the book of hospitality services.
If the guests are elderly relatives, consider rails on stairs, accessibility of toilets, shower benches, higher chairs and clear spaces for easy navigation.

2. Preparation checklist

Meals and relaxation

At the beginning of the week, plan your meals and refreshments for the week and shop accordingly.

Bedrooms

Make your bedroomscomfortable and relaxing, taking a page out of the book of hospitality services.

- This is the time to take stock of these rooms. Declutter and paint if necessary.

- Clear part of the cupboards and leave hangers.

It is always a good idea to let your guests do things on their own, giving you a breather to catch up on household chores, shopping, and sometimes just to have a break from them.
- Ensure that the room is clean and aired. There is nothing less welcoming than coming into a stale room with dusty curtains, smelling of moth balls and looking like it hasn’t been cleaned in months.

- Make up the beds, add fresh flowers and put out favours.

- Provide a towel rack with a set of towels and face cloths. If you have a pool, ask your guests to provide their own swimming towels.

- Keep extra blankets and pillows in the cupboard for 'in case the need arises'.

- Set up a charging station for their electronic devices.

- Prepare storage for their suitcases.

- Provide candles, solar lamps or torches - backup in the event of load shedding or power failure.

- Provide drinking water and glasses.

Enjoy the company, pour a glass of wine and give your guests some of your time, take time to relax and delegate tasks.
-  Leave nibbles and a glossy magazine on side tables.

- Ensure that the bedside lamps are in good repair.

- Provide your Wi-Fi password on a card in each bedroom, to allow use of their communication equipment.

- Provide a dustbin.

- Prepare a pamper basket with sunscreen, soap, bubble bath, a sealed toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, cotton wool, antacid and headache tablets. Leave this on their bed or bed stand.

Bathrooms

-  If they have to share a bathroom with the rest of the household, ensure that they have a space to place their toiletry bags while they are using it. It is difficult to find space on a cluttered bathroom counter while you are applying your makeup or just freshening up.

- Always check that there are sufficient and accessible toilet rolls.

- Keep a stash of sanitary towels and disposable bags available.

-  Put out a box of tissues.

Activities

- Show your guests how to use the remotes for the TV or any other media devices that you don't mind them using, and make it clear what you don't want them to do or use.

- Do your homeowork and create a list of places of interest and activities in the area, leave tourist brochures out for them to investigate. It is always a good idea to let them do things on their own, giving you a breather to catch up on household chores, and sometimes just to have a break from them.

3. On arrival

- Welcome them with suitable refreshments and catch up.

- Give them a tour of the house, show them to their rooms and help them to off-load.

- Give them time to unpack, rest or browse around.

- Show them where the tea and coffee station is and invite them to help themselves to any fruit or cooldrinks in the fridge, or where to find snacks.

- If you are not going to have breakfast at the same time, show them where the cereals and sandwich station is.

- Hand them an extra set of keys and remotes for the gates so that they have freedom of movement.

- Leave instructions on how the security system works. Should they want to do some washing, show them where the washing powder is kept and how the washer and dryer work.

- Provide emergency numbers should you be out.

Remember to get yourself ready in the morning for a day of fun, and don’t forget your 15 minute tidy up routine at the end of the day. Enjoy the company, pour a glass of wine and give your guests some of your time, take time to relax and delegate tasks. – Heidi Meyer

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