Mi Casa es su Casa

Creating a Haven for Houseguests


Welcome guests with a full schedule of festive things to do and see:

Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau:

Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau:

Chapel Hill and Orange County Visitors Bureau:

Chatham County Visitors Bureau:

My out-of-town family is braving crowded airports and other trials of traveling to bring the familiar sounds of love and laughter to my Triangle residence over Thanksgiving weekend. The least I can do is make it cozy. Any time guests camp out with me, I try to turn it into a special bed-and-breakfast experience for them. Moonlighting as a temporary “innkeeper” in my own home has taught me to do this:

At the Front Door

• Do a grand tour so those dwelling with you feel immediately at home. When you pass by areas they might find useful, such as the laundry room, assure them that they’re welcome to use it.

• Provide a binder that outlines practical information about your residence, such as how to work the remote control. (In my case, it includes the fact that it takes several minutes for the hot water to kick in.)

• Be ready for any weather by stocking an umbrella stand, coat rack or large basket with umbrellas, extra sweaters or jackets, gloves and scarves.

• Put together a package of local information, such as brochures from the Triangle’s visitor centers, maps, a list of attractions, your favorite restaurants and shops, and details about places of special interest to your new roomies.

• Determine how those flopping at your house feel about your pets. (My big, shaggy mutts, Delancey and Rivington, stay outside, within the Invisible Fence, until I know the coast is clear.)

• Lend books that match the interests of those holing up in your house or that cover local topics.

• Use scented candles, air fresheners or other fragrances to translate your welcome.

• Clear away clutter.

In the Bedroom

• Sleep in it for at least one night to see if you would wish it on your worst enemy. If you wouldn’t, make changes.

• Clean and vacuum.

• Make up the bed with fluffy pillows and fresh linens that match one another.

• Stock the closet with extra pillows and blankets.

• Furnish the room with a chair and ottoman so visitors can relax.

• Leave empty spaces for yourtemporary residents’ belongings just like they’d find in a hotel room.

• Check that there’s goodlighting, including night lights.

• Present a robe and slippers.

• Hang empty hangers in the closet.

• Station a clock radio next to the bed.

• Place fresh flowers in a vase on the bureau.

• Dispense candles, matches and a flashlight in case the lights go out.

• For extra credit, give them a table or desk, complete with pens, paper and stamps; a television; and a computer with Internet access.

In the Bathroom

• Scour it so it sparkles.

• Explain where those who are bunking in can find extras of everything.

• Outfit it with a set of fresh, matching towels and washcloths.

• Offer a basket of toiletries that includes everything someone away from home might need.

• Put bottles of body gel, shampoo and conditioner in the shower.

• Make the hair dryer readily available.

• Leave two bottles of water.

• Situate a laundry hamper.

In the Kitchen

• Stock their favorite foods and beverages.

• Produce a basket of snacks that’s right for those crashing in your casa.

• State that they are welcome to anything in the fridge.

• Set out items to make coffee and tea.

• Ask your roomies what they like for breakfast and leave some of those things, like cereal, out at night in case you’re not up as early as they are.

• Take into account your guests’ food allergies and diets when planning meals.

• Let the aroma of food on the stove display an immediate sense of comfort.

A wise friend of mine used to say, “When you’re up to your butt in alligators, it’s hard to remember you went in to drain the swamp.” The moral: Don’t get so caught up in the details that you forget your goal is to make your guests feel at home. By being warm and welcoming, you’ll fulfill 99 percent of people’s expectations.