Preparation is key when entertaining guests


Whether entertaining family or friends, being a good host will never go out of style. This holiday, with a bit of planning, you can go from just putting a roof over your guests' heads to making their time at your home unforgettable.

Truly, preparation is key. Your hosting duties begin before your guests arrive.

"I always think that flowers, luxury soaps and fluffy towels can make a wonderful first impression in their bedroom," Las Vegas-based etiquette coach Sheila Keast said, who appears on KVVU-TV Fox 5's "More Show." "A bottle of their favorite wine in the fridge is also a nice gesture."

Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas, suggests keeping the guest bedroom fresh.

"You never know when you will have unexpected company," Gottsman said. "Nothing is more inviting than crisp and clean bed linens and towels."

Gottsman added details and quality matter when it comes to hosting out-of-town guests.

"Invest in the best mattress you can afford, and add soft, solid-colored sheets, a warm blanket and a pretty duvet," Gottsman said. "Plush toilet paper and tissues for the bathroom and bedside table are sure to be appreciated."

She also stated to let guests change the sheets before they leave if they want. Simply provide an extra set of linens, ironed and folded in a spare drawer.

Outside of preparing the home, communicating with your guests about diet restrictions and any other special needs before their arrival can make the stay a success.

"A savvy host always asks in advance so she can plan meals accordingly," Gottsman said.

Henderson resident Barbra Konrad entertains a number of guests who require special diets.

"We always try to make sure we have food on hand that they can eat," said Konrad, who is careful to watch out for cross contamination between foods. "We have foods available for breakfast and snacks, but eat out or delivery for the rest of the time."

Stock the refrigerator and cupboards with snacks and easy-to-prepare foods. These can include bagels, pastries and cold cereals. Be sure to point them out to the guests when they arrive and encourage them to eat whenever they wish.

"I like to invite my house guests to help in the kitchen," Keast said. "Oftentimes someone will have a special dish they'd like to make so they don't feel like they're being waited on hand and foot."

Having a feel for what your guests want to do while they are in town can help prevent a lull in the visit. Discuss their plans before they arrive. If you have time, plan out a tentative schedule. A schedule gives you and your guests a good starting point to keep them entertained.

"It's not your sole responsibility to entertain your guests," Gottsman said. "Let them know you encourage them to explore and get the flavor of the local area. Offer your extra car if available."

In addition to a tentative schedule, another idea is to put together a guest packet filled with local information.

"Know the best places in town to go, with a variety of price points to choose from," said Konrad, who also has offered to baby-sit for her guests. "Sometimes the guests want company and sometimes they don't. Bottom line, don't be afraid to ask what your guests want."

You can also provide an extra set of house keys on a pretty ring, and a list of favorite restaurants, delis and coffee shops.

"The less questions your guests have to ask you," said Gottsman, "The more relaxed they will feel."

It's also a good idea to communicate the sleeping and housing arrangements when planning the stay, especially for hosts who live in smaller homes where guests have to share space such as a bathroom or bedroom.

"Accommodate guests to the best of your ability and let your guests know they will be sharing space," Gottsman said. "This gives them the option to make other arrangements if necessary."

Keast added when sharing a bathroom make sure all the guests soaps and toiletries are in a nice basket so they can bring them back to their room when finished.

"I limit my time in the bathroom by doing my makeup and hair in the bedroom instead of bathroom to free up the bathroom for guests to use," Henderson resident Debbie Ha said about sharing space.

Accommodating technology is a new expectation put upon hosts. Many people have devices such as a cellphones, iPads or laptops. One idea is to display the Wi-Fi password in a pretty picture frame so guests can check their email. Also have a universal charger available.

Being considerate of your guests' culture can mean making them feel comfortable in a way that reflects their home and not just yours.

Ha says her Asian culture plans a big part when hosting out-of-towners.

"Everyone who comes into your home should be treated like family," Ha said.

The important thing is to have fun and enjoy the time with your guests. Even if you don't have a guest room or the budget to purchase special items, this will make their visit memorable.