Guests will love to stay overnight when you have prepared for their visit by anticipating what they need to be comfortable. One of my friends - a man, at that! - once said he likes coming to our house because it feels like a bed and breakfast. What a lovely compliment that was! Here are some tips to help you get ready when company is coming.
My sister-in-law gave me the best advice ever: KEEP THE MENU SIMPLE! I seem to overdo it with too many dishes. Plan your menu then see how you can pare it down and make dinner preparation and serving more manageable. You just don't need 6 side dishes and 4 desserts! The bonus is that you also have less dishes to clean up after dinner.
Your best china or your everyday dishes? I have my Grandma's antique Red Willow china that I'm thrilled to pull out for any occasion. Why not use it and enjoy it? I also have an extensive collection of plain cheap white dishes and serving ware for everyday use. The great thing is, I can use my old china and the white serving pieces together when we have a really large crowd and it's still well coordinated.
Set a pretty table! I happen to have a ridiculously large collection of vintage table linens and am thrilled to pull them out for guests because it makes dinner a bit more special to dab your mouth with a pressed linen napkin. Even burgers off the grill seem like elegant fare when the dinner plate is on a lace place mat. And don't forget to decorate the table with a simple vase of flowers. If it's summer time then the flowers come from my garden. In the winter my almost-weekly treat is a single bunch of Asian lilies from the grocery store because they smell so heavenly, or a simple potted blooming orchid.
I love the opportunity to spoil overnight guests with a luscious bed to sleep in. In the winter the bed will have a snuggly duvet and soft bedding. The bed will likely have a feather bed mattress topper as well so they sink deep into the bed. Since I both like the house colder than most AND own a fireplace store, each room has an electric fireplace in it for extra heat and a bit of comforting lighting if they want. But I also keep a fan in each room for folks who, like me, want a breeze or the white noise to help them sleep.
Lighting is also important. I like layers of lighting to help make the room comforable for either reading or changing clothes.
Each room also has a spot to place luggage, and I try to keep some extra space in each closet - and some extra hangers - so they can hang clothes if needed.
On a night stand I keep a small, battery-operated alarm clock and a dish or container for placing jewelry, etc. I also try to add a bottle or two of water in case they get thirsty during the night. I also like to add a vase of flowers to make them feel special!
Make sure there are plenty of fresh towels and a hamper for used towels.
I keep a little electric candle lit overnight in the guest bath so guests don't have to stumble in the dark trying to find the light switch.
Since I'm a coupon shopper and love closeout stores where you find one or two bottles of extravagant little goodies like bubble bath, shower gel and lotions, and I have a basket in the guest bath for folks to help themselves. Again, I put a bottle or 2 of water in the guest bath for taking medicine.
And again, add a small vase of flowers - or even a single daisy in a mason jar.
I try to have grab and go breakfast items like bagels and fresh fruit in case guests have to dash out the door early or are light eaters. If the morning can be a little more leisurely then my favorite go-to breakfast is crepes or French toast, some of our farm-fresh eggs, bacon or sausage and some fruit. It all comes together quickly and crepes, while SO easy to make, seem elegant!
Depending on the weather, I like serving breakfast in our sunroom or outdoors on the deck.