I blogged about creating a truly welcoming guest room in this post; but I thought I’d do a more in-depth post on a Christmas snack station here today. So how do you give your hospitality area a Christmas vibe?
Cups and crockery
One of the easiest ways to give this area some holiday spirit is to add festive mugs or cups as well as other crockery.
This isn’t holiday specific, but a small kettle is great to ensure your guests can have a warm drink when they want without feeling the need to disturb the whole house.
Add some chocolate along with other beverages
Along with teas and coffees include some hot chocolate sachets for your visitors. It’s synonymous with Christmas after all. I also include cappuccino sachets, regular instant coffee and a selection box of teas too.
As a norm I have a bottle of water, a small one of sterilised milk, some sugar and sweet and low along with them.
If you’ve been doing lots of baking why not present some of your Christmas cookies to your guests?
I include little snacks throughout the year; breakfast bars and savory snacks. Sometimes people can be peckish, or want to indulge themselves on holiday.
I mentioned crockery, but coasters can be updated for ones that reflect the season.
Like this Christmas bauble.
Adding a chocolate Santa can be a decoration itself.
Pop some in your mugs to make them a little more merry.
It’s the first of December today, the first day of advent. So I thought I’d share these ideas for how to prepare your guest bedroom in time for the upcoming feast.
In this post I spoke about how my husband laughed at the extent I was going to to make our first guest bedroom ready. I laughed along with him, I do go to extraordinary lengths. But I enjoy it; I’m beginning to think I’m an English Monica Gellar! Or a thwarted Bree Van de Kamp.
Nevertheless my efforts, and as a result this list, aren’t only as a result of my ‘eccentric without the money’ personality. Those of you who read the blog regularly know we moved to France from Blighty (our three year anniversary of the move went by in August). I’m always wanting guests to come and visit and regularly say to people to come over on the ferry as a foot passenger and we’ll happily swing by and pick them up at the port.
This list is a way of making any trip not only more pleasurable when they arrive, but less stressful to organise. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there with a list of things to remember to pack, lugging a big suitcase with us. But I’m trying to make it so that folks can just throw some clothes in a small carry on, spend the bare minimum on their fare and they can be certain that everything is going to be all right.
So, for those of you who are domestic goddesses (or just the domestic mortals like me) thinking ahead to the holiday season, or you’re in a more professional capacity of a B and B or small hotel, this list of may be something you want to ponder.
I’m going to be developing this list in the next few weeks; with posts on how to monogram your home (physically as well as metaphorically), as well as creating a welcome book that emotionally connects your visitors to your home and your area, displaying and presenting your welcome touches – along with other Martha Stewart (without the prison term) type homemaking sprinkles. So hit subscribe and join me on the adventure.
Let’s start with the most practical items; a bed with a good mattress of course. You may wish to get a good quality mattress protector too; I’ve had a guest with a night-time nosebleed before and I now have these as a result. It’s so much easier to take it off to wash and, if worse comes to worst, buy a new one rather than replace a mattress.
Yet there is more to making your guest space convenient to ensure a relaxing time. A waste bin, coat hangers in the cupboard, hooks on the back of a door to enable easy access to a dressing gown in the middle of the night, a full length mirror if you can, but at least a dressing mirror to prepare yourself for adventures and, obviously, a chair to sit and prepare yourself.
If you have the space a bedside table is always convenient. If you’re short of space a small shelf can do the trick. On the bedside tables it’s good to have lamps, particularly if there’s no light switch near the bed. You don’t want guests to get up in the night and feel disoriented.
As we live in France and have lots of visitors with different plugs I make sure that I have one or two extension leads with space for English plugs. We’d brought over three and four socket extension leads and we changed the original socket for a French one. This means that guests don’t have to go hunting for adaptors when they come.
Some may want to add charger leads to a guest room drawer for guests use, but as different phones need different leads extra attention needs to be given if you’re going to include these. In this list of top selling mobile devices you can see in the U.K. Apple and Samsung rank the highest -so the two types of charges for these seem more than sufficient if you do wish to provide them.
If you can have a lock on your guest room door. This may be just an internal bolt, to ensure privacy, or one with an actual key. The latter is great if, like me, you have little ones who are tempted to explore. If you have a spare room key you could think of adding a nice fob to make it stand out for easy access in a handbag, and it could fit in with your room’s decor.
Every good hostess should supply her guests with good quality towels if she can; but leaving out towels for your guests is a must.
If you want to move into a Monica Bing levels of hostess you want to think about dressing gowns and slippers. The former is bulky, so to be able to let your guests know there will be one available for when they arrive may save them valuable packing space and bulk when traveling. This is especially the case if they’re coming via public transport.
It may seem odd including slippers in this, but if you get mule types they can come in a small/medium, medium/large male and female varieties, thus negating the necessity to buy lots of sizes. Make sure you can put them in a washing machine though, as guests will want to know that what you’ve provided out of kindness won’t result in a long standing foot problem.
If you can’t stretch to good quality bathrobes for your guests (I’m waiting for the sales for mine) you may be able to get together some toiletries. The basics you may want to prepare are;
toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash
shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body pouff and shower cap
hairbrush, hair mousse, hair spray etc.
nail files, tweezers, nail clippers
With many of these items, like the slippers, a good wash after each guest is essential. Items like nail files may need regular checking and changing and you may want to consider buying shampoo etc in bulk and decanting them.
If, unlike me, you have an on suite, you could find pretty, small bottles to decant into (see above). If you’re just a domestic goddess and not a business you can consider just collecting the complimentary ones in hotels (why not? You pay for them). But if you go down the decanting route monogramming, such as the ones below, may be a fun or strategic and surprisingly easy option and I’ll be putting together something on this later.
As well as dragging bathrobes around you’re house guests will require multiple electrical gadgets too. Some of these can be provided relatively inexpensively and, if you let your guest know they’ll be there beforehand, the lighter load may just make a more pleasant trip.
I thought of this recently when my recent guest asked her husband to go to the car to get her hairdryer, which was packed seperately from her overnight things as they were staying with us on the way to a longer vacation with family.
I’d seen a discounted hairdryer with diffuser along with a straightening/curling iron combo and sobpught them both for less than 20€. Next time my guest comes I can let her know that, as she’s not travelling through, she can pack lighter. A bonus is that the plugs fit without any adaptors!
It’s not just the physical comfort of the mattress that’s necessary. Are your guests going to be too hot or too cold?
Having access to a cool fan over the summer months can be a welcome relief. At this time of year when the sales are on buying a fan for your guest rooms may make all the difference in a house without air conditioning.
Of course if you have independent heaters your guests will need to know how to use them; but spare blankets that are accessible will be appreciated on nights when the temperature drops.
Spare pillows, particularly non-allergenic (along with the duvet) also add to a guests restful sleep as people may require different heights for a good nights rest.
Cushions on a bed can be chosen to compliment the decor, but they can also be considered for aiding someone reclining to read, use their tablet etc. I hate it when you’re in a hotel room and all you’ve got to relax on is the bed, but you only have a measly amount of pillows to make it comfortable.
Leaving out some books and magazines is always welcome. If you know your guest well you can taylor these to their interest. If not, what’s do you know about them? Are they travelling through? Do you have books on their destination? Have they mentioned a keen interest in something? Maybe their are some local historical guides that may peak their interest?
Depending on who my guest is I often include a Bible in this small selection.
If there is a tv in the room a handy guide of how to switch it on and what channels are available can be welcome. This may sound odd to those of you who are just reading the post from a domestic goddess perspective – but if you work, or need to go out your guests may want to entertain themselves.
Considering my last point an information folder isn’t too bizarre is it? If it’s nearing Autumn (and I know my American readers will start their holidays in the Halloween/thanksgiving season) the weather may be changeable. Do your guests know where and how to access your heating system?
How about, for longer staying guests, where the extra toilet rolls are?
Even if you’re not providing an information folder (which I’ll do an in-depth post on later) it’s convenient to leave out your WiFi details.
If you have the room as well as a dressing table you could think of a work desk. In my recently decorated spare room I have a secrétaire (see here for more pictures) which, with the top down, can’t easily fit a laptop.
Inside I keep some writing material; postcards, notelets, pens, even stamps. If it’s a commercial enterprise you may not want to include the latter, but it’s worthwhile thinking of the former in particular. A well placed postcard may not only be appreciated by your guest, but could provide you with free advertising if they have your establishment on the front. With a printer and today’s technology it wouldn’t be expensive to produce either!
I know you will encourage your guests to make themselves at home, but sometimes people don’t want to wander around someone else’s home early in the morning. Added to that is the differences in eating patterns.
As my parents lived in France before we did we often came here on a holiday or for a quick break. Naturally as we were in holiday mode we wanted to eat slightly differently. Of course we ate our meals with our parents, but we wanted the little holiday extras too. The snacks, chocolates…..the little extras.
At first my parents would get in the holiday spirit too, but they soon had to stop as they had too many visitors and were consequently on a semi-permanent holiday. Too much for the waistline and therefore their health.
As I’m a little overweight I felt embarrassed to eat outside of the normal eating times and would ‘sneak eat’. Now, whether that was healthy or not is a different discussion; but giving your guests a little drinksandsnacksstation not only allows them to access it for a comfy cup of tea in bed (or coffee, or hot chocolate), but it gives them a signal. It’s ok to be indulgent on vacation, they’re not being judged. It’s also ok if you don’t join in though.
So a small area with access to a kettle (a little travel one is perfect), hot drinks, cups or mugs, snacks, fruit etc is welcome. I’ll do a more in-depth post on this later though.
The scent of the room of course adds to the feeling of a warm welcome, so candles, flowers, and room perfume are beautiful additions to the room.
If your guests are known to you include a picture of them and the time you’ve shared together to make them feel truly at home.