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How to host overnight guests and actually love it

How to host overnight guests and actually love it

We host overnight guests quite often, especially this time of year. Barely a week goes by without friends or family coming down for a weekend in the country. We love hosting our friends and over the years we have worked out few things that make guests easier to prepare for, and the experience genuinely enjoyable for everyone.

After having overnight guests earlier this week, my husband and I were reflecting on all the things we do that make it easy. So I thought I would share. Maybe something here will mean you learn to love hosting overnight guests too?

Beds, bedding and logistics

Firstly, make sure you have enough linen and blankets on hand, and in an easily accessible place.
I have a zip-up container (Skubb from Ikea) to hold all our spare blankets and quilts, ready to make up beds. When we don’t need them, the container slides easily under my son’s bed.
We also have several spare mattresses stored under beds which we can pull out as we need them.

Make up a luxurious guest room for your overnight guests

If you are fortunate to have a guest room, wash the linen and then remake the bed(s) immediately after your guests leave. That way it is ready for whoever visits next, and it is one less thing to do the day before your next overnight guests arrive.
If your guests ask what they can bring, suggest they bring their own towels. A few less loads of washing at the end of the stay is always appreciated! We also have hooks on the wall of the guest room so that friends have somewhere to hang their towels when they stay.
We try to make sure we have a few extra beanies, gloves, and gumboots in winter for guests to use. Because our guests don’t normally live on a farm, they don’t always have the right ‘equipment’ to make life easier. We even have lightweight windproof jackets, which we used in Europe, for our guests to use should they need them.
If you have a pool, perhaps spare goggles might be more appropriate. Work out what your guests may need at your place and have everything ready.

Feeding the gang

If your guests offer to bring a meal or some snacks with them, accept immediately. No further explanation necessary.

When planning meals, we try to think of meals that can easily be prepared in advance. Slow roasted meat and vegetables, pasta bakes, casseroles, homemade baked beans and lamb shanks, are all foods we serve regularly.

Keep the food coming. We try to have “proper” morning and afternoon teas when we have overnight guests. I find that filling the kids up every two hours or so means that they stay happier longer. Happier kids = happier, more relaxed, adults.

Often we will whip up a batch of lemonade scones or pikelets, which I put out with a plate of chopped fruit. Popcorn, homemade biscuits, or even a plate of Vegemite toast all fill them up. A late afternoon cheese platter while sitting in the sun is always popular too!

A cheese platter is always welcome at the end of the day

Things to do with your crew

It is important to have a loose plan of what you might do each day. On the farm we have the usual list of activities such as bike riding, going for a tour around the farm on the truck, feeding the animals, canoeing on the dam, and bonfires (in winter).

We also try to mix up the type of activities so that there are times when we are active outdoors, and others where we are relaxing indoors. Usually, a movie or audiobook for the kids after lunch (and a snooze for the adults) is on the agenda.

Where ever possible make sure that you have enough of each activity so that all the kids can join in. We have spare bikes in the shed (which we picked up for free during council clean ups) so there are enough extras. If we don’t have one of the right size, we suggest our friends bring one with them if they have room. If you don’t have enough scooters, bikes, pool noodles etc ask your guests to bring them, or borrow some from friends close by.

Have backup activities. I always have a few craft or baking activities up my sleeve in case it is freezing or raining (or both). I also check out any events in nearby towns such as markets, cafes, or even something at the big town further away.

Keeping everyone happy

Even when the kids get along fabulously, there will still be differences of opinions (aka arguments) at times. Expecting the kids to get along all the time with no assistance is asking for problems. We often get our kids to put away any of their very precious items before guests arrive so that they don’t become an issue.

We also try to make sure that there are times where the adults play with the kids. Sometimes half an hour of hide and go seek in our garden (which is fabulous fun for adults too), is all the kids need to reset.

Getting along can be tricky for the adults too, especially if your overnight guests are staying for many overnights! Don’t be afraid to call a break. Particularly when the visit is longer, going for a drive gives everyone a break from each other, and helps everyone to feel happier again later. Remember, just because your guests have come to see you doesn’t mean you need to spend every moment together!

Feature image by Vlada Karpovich; guest room Photo by La Miko; cheese platter Photo by Anastasia Khvaleva;