published Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Company's coming

Holiday celebrations revolve around family gatherings, which often mean out-of-town relatives staying in your home.

A good hostess will have prepared a space for these guests and their belongings in advance. If room arrangements require children doubling up in a sibling's room, sleeping on air mattresses on the floor, their move will also be accomplished before company comes so guests won't feel they are imposing on their hosts.

Local designers Dolores Wolfe of Wolfe Studio and Alice Davis of Davis Interiors both suggest welcoming guests to their temporary rooms with fresh flowers.

"I think a guest room should have a small bouquet of fresh flowers, whether it's in the bath or on the dresser in the bedroom," said Wolfe.

Other amenities the designer suggests are a small TV in the room and a carafe for ice water along with a couple of glasses, either in the bath or bedroom, in case your guest needs a drink during the night.

"I usually try to put out little soaps, bath gels for the guest. Make sure the towels and wash clothes are fluffy and feel new," Wolfe added.

Davis said she stocks her guest room with lotions and other needed toiletries whether the guests are friends of her teenage grandchildren or longtime friends stopping over on their way to Florida.

"Fresh flowers, enough closet room and comfortable bedding" are keys to a pleasant stay in a guest room, said Davis.

"I like to go somewhere they have the sheets starched and lots of fluffy bedding," said Davis.

"I have a Christmas quilt that I won at a Northside Neighborhood House quilt show about 20 years ago. Because it is red and green, I always use it on the bed with crisp white sheets and pillowcases. Add a fluffy duvet, and rest is the end result," she said.

Following are 10 tips to help your visitors feel right at home.

Checklist for entertaining guests

Clean up. Give the guest room a thorough cleaning, change sheets, wash coverlets to remove dog hair, dust and other possible allergens. If possible, place a change of linens in the dresser or closet.

Remove clutter. All those knickknacks, extra clothing and photos that have gravitated to the guest room should be packed up and moved out. Clear dresser tops. Empty the top drawer or two for their clothing. If there simply isn't room in the drawers for your company's clothes, provide a suitcase stand at the foot of the bed. No one wants to live out of their luggage on the floor.

Organize the closet. Before guests arrive, make sure the room's closet has space for their hanging items. A nice touch is to supply your guests with a half-dozen hangers. If there simply isn't room in the closet, invest in an over-the-door hook that will accommodate a hanging bag. If boxes of shoes, handbags or other items are stored on the closet's overhead shelf, organize them and slide them to the side so shelf space is within easy reach of your guest.

Add amenities. Make sure your guest room has a bedside table with reading lamp, a mirror, clock radio or travel clock, box of tissues, extra blanket in case your guest gets chilly and perhaps a selection of books if you know a preferred genre.

Stock the bath with basics. Make sure the guest bath is equipped with an extra toothbrush and paste, disposable razors, soap and other small items that might have been forgotten. Also, place toilet paper and towels in the room. If there isn't a guest bath and the family will be sharing the bathroom with relatives, make sure there is a space or drawer cleared just for your company's bath essentials.

Keep information at hand. If your guests will be sightseeing on their own, perhaps while their hosts are at work, have on hand several tourist brochures, city map and discount information/coupons.

Assemble a welcome basket. Your guests may feel uncomfortable about helping themselves to what's in the kitchen cabinet if they want a late-night snack, so fill a basket for them that includes bottled waters, instant coffee or cider packets, tea bags, fruit and locally made snacks.

Relax and enjoy the visit. If you want to make your guests uncomfortable, just spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning in order to "entertain them."

Get out of the house. Several days of close confinement can make everyone edgy. Get out for a walk, take a bike ride or visit the mall.

Give grand-parents a tour. If grandparents are visiting from out-of-town, take them on a tour of sites that are important in their grandchildren's lives: schools, church, where the kids play sports or take music lessons, the children's theater in which they perform. Then, when the kids email them about their latest activities, they'll feel more included in the excitement.

Source: Various Internet sites

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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