How to Host House Guests Without Going Crazy


Ben Franklin (or whoever actually said it) was right: Fish and house guests stink after three days. Having other people in your personal space can be stressful, no matter how much you like them or how otherwise close you feel to them. With the holidays upon us, it's time to reflect a little bit on the mixed blessing of the house guest and how you can survive the impending invasion. (See also: 15 Tips for Hosting House Guests)

Preparing for Your Guests

Like anything else, preparing for house guests the right way can go a long way toward making it easier for you to stay sane.

Get Your House in Order

Try not to have any outstanding errands when your house guests arrive. This will just create an additional layer of stress. (See also: Got Company? 10 Areas to Clean)

Prepare Their Necessities

If there's a guest bathroom, make sure that it is well stocked. Try to anticipate needs in advance to allow for an easy transition.

Give Them a Place to Sit

Putting a chair and a lamp in the guest bedroom makes it more likely that they will go there to take time for themselves — and get out of your hair.

Tell Them Things to Do

You might not be able to play tour guide, but you can play travel agent, giving them a prepared list of activities going on during their stay.

Give Them Instructions

A small set of instruction manuals, things like how to use appliances or remote controls, make it less likely that guests will bother you with questions.

When They Arrive

When your guests arrive you can make things easier for the rest of the trip with just a few simple steps. (See also: How to Be the Host With the Most)

Take Their Things

Taking their things to their room allows you to put everything they have in one place, rather than allowing it to spread out over the whole house.

Give Them the Tour

Show them around your house so that they know where everything is.

Serve a Snack and Cocktails

A light snack and cocktails are a great way to make sure that everyone is in a great mood and the stay starts out on the right foot. (See also: Quick Snacks for Unexpected Guests)

During Their Stay

Here's the meat of the visit: Their stay. A long stay can be a difficult thing, but attention to some small details can make it go a lot smoother.

Put Them to Work

When a house guest asks if he or she can help with dinner, don't give them some vague direction that you'd appreciate help. Instead, tell them that you want them to chop onions or something else specific.

Invite Other Friends Over

If your house guests are coming for a longer stay — where "longer" means more than 36 hours — invite some of your local friends and family over for a big dinner.

Inquire Into a Longer Stay

You're not in college anymore, so couchsurfing is for family members only. If someone is staying with you for more than a couple of days ask why and in a way that is polite, yet pointed, so they perhaps start looking for the nearest Motel 6.

Dealing With Problems

Have a problem guest? Here's how to work it out with a minimum of muss and fuss. (See also: Simple Rules of Excellent Houseguest Etiquette)

The Slob

Be apologetic and call yourself a "total neat freak," while directly informing your guest that you need him to clean up after himself.

The Overstayer

This is one of the trickier ones to work out and why it's best to get a firm timetable on how long the person plans to stay — before they arrive. The best way to deal with someone that you fear might overstay their welcome is to give them chores — take out the garbage, do the dishes, etc. Be firm about the limits of your hospitality.

The Couch Potato

Got someone who comes to visit and just sits on your couch all day? Give them ideas for what to do, things that are fun that will get them out of your hair for a bit. In a worst-case scenario, just hope that they aren't staying with you for that long.

Whether you have the best or the worst house guests in the world, these simple tips will dramatically improve your quality of life when your home becomes a hostel.

How do you manage a house full of guests?

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