Creating a stable, safe, kind home is the key to a great guest visit. Holiday gatherings can be tense. This year after midterm elections people may be more volatile and stressed than ever before. Also remember that you really have no idea what people are going through, whether it’s your brother-in-law that lost his job, your niece dropped out of school unexpectedly or your sister who has no health insurance. Being mindful, aware, and prepared during your time together is one of the best gifts you can give.
Creating Your Holiday Guest Plan
With many different personalities and agendas arriving to your home, you may want to create a plan. Listed below is a foolproof plan for creating the best holiday guest experience.
- Guest Newsletter. Before guests arrive, send out a family letter with a list of items they need to bring. There are fewer surprises if you clearly state your expectations ahead of time. Do you need extra pillows, blankets, or food?
- House Rules. House rules create boundaries from the beginning of the holiday and can help make it one of the most memorable gatherings of your life.
- Post “Holiday Guest Rules.” On a bright sheet of paper list the rules for each room of your house to set expectations for everyone.
- Family Area. Place rules on a visible wall where they can be seen by everyone. Make sure everyone knows this room has an open door.
- Quiet Room. Designate a room in your home for using technology quietly, reading, crossword puzzles, etc. Then let guests know they can participate in quiet activities in this room.
- Activity Room. Tell guests where the televisions are located and post TV viewing rules, such as “R” rated movies after 9 pm. Ask someone bring a laptop and headphones for the courtesy of others. Post rules for video game playing, too.
- Kitchen. Identify special foods that belong to guests with sticky notes, including those needed for dietary reasons. With so many people in your home, this will prevent arguments and misunderstandings about the refrigerator and pantry.
- Bathroom. Post bathroom rules and a separate sign-up sheet on the door.
- Showers. Ask guests to sign-up for showering time with a 10-minute courtesy limit. Offer everyone an opportunity to take care of business without dominating the facilities.
- Toilet Paper. Ask guests, in the rules, to replace toilet tissue and post where extra supplies are kept.
- Towels. Ask guests to use one towel for the week and tell them where you want the used towels placed.
- Bedrooms. Put the bedroom hospitality rules on the wall. Decide sleeping arrangements ahead of time, and post these on each room before guests arrive. This lessens anxiety for guests, knowing they have a “parking spot” for their visit.
- Bedrooms are assigned first for respect for age.
- The next deciding factor is the health of the guest.
- Parents deserve a respectful private place.
- Children are the most flexible in sleeping arrangements. Tell guests to bring sleeping bags or inflatable beds.
- Create private areas for naps during the day. You may want to create a doorknob hanger that says, “NAP IN PROGRESS”, for those wonderful afternoon naps after meals and between games and gab sessions.
- Events. Post a schedule of events in a central location and include a sign-up sheet for all who want to participate. This will ensure no stragglers are left behind, which could create bad feelings in the family. List all the events available during the weekend such as a trip to the grocery store, the zoo, the golf course, the movie theater, the mall, etc. Throughout it all, focus on the experience–that’s what everyone will remember.