How to Host an Overnighter: Sofa Surfer or Air Mattress Alike

With the holidays just around the corner it is safe to assume you may have some out of town guests knocking on your door in mere days. Regardless of your space, or lack of it you can host like a pro with a few simple tips.

Sofa Surfers.  Urban dwellers this is for you. Chances are you have about 10 square feet to lend to your guest. If you are bursting at the seams think about pulling out a laundry basket or hamper to place next to the couch. While this may seem odd, it gives your guest a defined space for them to keep all of their belongings together.

If the couch is to be the resting place for the evening, think about giving it a face lift. Many cushion covers can be removed, unzip those and throw them in the wash. More than likely if they zip they can be laundered on cool in the gentile cycle with some woolite. Next, remove all the half eaten chips, splenda packets, and remote controls and vacum that nasty mess. If by chance you own a steamer it would be wise to give the couch a once over. This will remove any lingering chip smell or remnants of lingering Dutch ovens. If you are reading this and going, “my cushions don’t unzip and my couch smells like spilled coffee and spit up,” IT’S OK! Grab some dawn dish soap, hot water and a splash of vinegar. Spot clean any blatant offenders with the mixture. Once dry, grab some borax and sprinkle all over the couch. Let the borax sit for a minimum of 10 minutes to neutralize odors and then vacuum it all up. The borax is key, think of it as couch deodorant or couch dry shampoo. If all else fails, you can always just grab a lint roller and run it around to pick up any lose bits and Febreze the hell out of the specimen. Febreze covers a multitude of sins.

Air Mattresses. My youth would not be complete without the memory of the “Aero Bed.” While the blow up mattress promises to deliver, “comfort, convenience, and reliability so you or your guests will sleep in style,” I have yet to ever feel stylish on the glorified float. Regardless, if you haven’t pulled your blow up out in a while, dust that bad boy off and give it go. Nothing worse than company staring at you as the motor runs and the bed starts flailing like a wacky waving inflatable arm guy as air blows out the seams. All kidding aside, do yourself a solid and inspect for any damage.

At this time of year, I do an extra load of laundry so all the guest bedding is fresh and clean. If you have limited space, pull out that laundry basket again and place all items needed to make up the mattress and place in a corner out of the way. It also doesn’t hurt to throw an extra dryer sheet in the mix to keep things fresh.

Guest Room. If you are lucky enough to have a guest room, you are one lucky duck! Since you are not opting for the davenport (a very fancy term for a couch) or the glorified pool float (cough* Areobed) you have many options of which I am sure you have already scoured Pinterest for décor ideas.

Regardless of your square footage situation, you too can be the hostess with the mostess…

Keep it Clean. Easier said than done if you have tiny humans around. However, if you keep your home relatively tidy much of the stress of drop in guests can be eliminated. As a rule of thumb I like to keep the guest space and living area with in 10 minutes of company. If all you must do is pick up a few loose items and wipe down a few surfaces, you feel much more inclined to welcome visitors. If this sounds like fantasy land, take a peek at solutions to simplify your home and start taking a stab little by little. If you continually have the same mess, you either own too much stuff or it doesn’t have a proper home.

Spare Key. If you are going to have a company for an extended period of time it’s a good idea to have an extra key made. It’s cheap, easy, and makes your guest feel at home. Dig around in your junk drawer (yes, we all have them) or purchase a cute keychain so it can be easily identified.

 Extra Essentials. With the holidays around the corner, stores are bursting with travel sized everything for stocking stuffers. Take advantage of this and pick up a few essentials like a toothbrush, tooth paste, deodorant, and stash away for unexpected visitors. If you have the space, a nice apothecary jar on a bathroom counter lets your company know what is available for them. If space is at a premium, try a small basket or zippered cosmetic case that can be pulled out and placed in the bathroom with a hand written note. Guests don’t come to stay expecting the Waldorf Astoria, they come for the company. Nothing tells your guests they are loved and appreciated like a warm welcome and a stay that is personal. Not everyone has time to bake cookies and offer a welcome reception like that of years past. But a simple note with a few goodies tailored to your guest can really go the mile to make them feel welcome.

 Local Swag. While I have a penchant for kitschy local items, I have moved to a region that has made it challenging to gift anything that is not bizarrely historical or university related. No one wants to receive a miniature of George Washington crossing the Delaware or a Princeton mug. However, if you think local you can always find something unique to your town. We have a great local coffee shop called Small World Coffee that roasts locally and is quintessentially Princeton. Also, there is a great local farm called Turhune Orchards. They make great pies, salsas and wines that are always a nice welcome to an out of towner.

Arcadia publishing in recent years has been publishing books that highlight the history of many American towns and regions. Local historical societies are collaborating with them to create a vast offering of American towns coast to coast. It is great fun to play tour guide when guests are in town. If you visit them just type your town or greater area into the search bar  and see what you can find! You can check them out over at Arcadia Publishing.

 Something Special. If any or all of this seems a bit too ambitious. When in doubt a nice breakfast and some fresh flowers are all that’s needed. A good meal wins over the most grumpy of guests and fresh stems are something that are out of the ordinary. Most of us don’t keep a fresh bouquet in the house on the regular. This simple gesture denotes that this time and space together is special, even sacred. Something to be cherished. I could spend a horrible night in a van down by the river. But if it’s with great company, a nice breakfast and mimosas; that’s something to write home to mom about.

Happy Hosting!

~Kate