Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Ultimate FruHo Guide to House Guests

The Frugal Hostess feels sure she has written about having house guests before, but no posts are popping out to make themselves known.  If this is a repeat, she'd guess you could probably use a refresher, anyway.  

House guests are a delightful treat, as long as you know they are coming.  Occasionally, surprise guests are also fun (but, confidential to FruHubs: not if they are relatives and not if it is your anniversary).   If you make up your mind to enjoy the experience, then you will.  Here's why:

1.  Having someone stay with you gives you the chance to see your house through fresh eyes.  When you are frantically shoving old greige bras in a drawer and sweeping cat litter off pillow cases, you see nothing but dirt and shabbiness everywhere.  This is a much-needed wake up call because, frankly, your house is a mess.  Those dog hair tumbleweeds and Ross Dress-for-Less price tags that you pretend you can't see behind the door?  Your guest can see them.  The huge splash stain on the painting in the hall where you dropped a cup of coffee and never wiped it off?  Yeah, Slobbalina, your company has not developed the same selective sight lines you have and will totally zero in on that immediately.  Get busy and hide your disgusting habits from outsiders!!!

2.  Company is the perfect excuse to buy things.  Once you've given your pad the once-over and realized it does not measure up, it's a good time to hit the stores for some lipstick to put on that pig.  New throw pillows will cover the blood stain on your couch, and heavily-scented soaps will mask the dog kennel/baby diaper smell that permeates your place.  Be sure to stock up on Febreeze, candles, and all the latest issues of your favorite frivolous magazines (you know, for the guests to read).

3.   A house guest creates an instant party.  Whether you live alone or with a family of monkeys, adding another person to the mix is the perfect excuse for a fiesta.  You really owe it to your guest to let him try your new recipe for the perfect Manhattan, and you couldn't possibly live with yourself if you didn't have artisan chocolates on hand to share.  Stay up late, turn the music on loud, and throw caution (or your morning meeting) to the wind; you've got company, baby.

Your guest may be a college chum who hasn't showered since she left the Panic tour or your very proper in-laws.  Whoever it is, there are certain base line amenities that you must provide if you don't want to get trash-talked to all of your mutual acquaintances.  Here's a short list:

1.  A place to sleep.  Whether you offer a guestroom, futon, air mattress, or couch, please do act as though you expected someone.  Have a pillow and blanket available, and, if they can't be set up in advance, help your guest make her bed.  There is nothing more pitiful feeling than making up your own couch in an unfamiliar setting.

2.  T. O. W. E. L. S. Well, maybe one thing is worse, and that is having no towels to use.  Seriously, if you can't prepare a clean towel in advance, please return to adult school and repeat.  You should also stick your head into the bathroom your guest will use and check for soap, toothpaste, and shampoo.  Even if no one in your family uses anything but shower gel and a prayer to get clean, just get some freaking soap for a guest.

3.  A plan.  There should be some semblance of a plan of what's going to happen while your guest is in town.  The plan can be, "Let's sit around and prank call our elementary school teachers."  It can be anything, and it can be totally flexible, but it should exist.  Have some ideas, like, "I thought we could visit the iguana farm up the road and then grab ice cream, but if you have something else in mind, that's cool, too."  Also?  Communicate said plans.  It sucks to be a stranger in a strange land and not know what's going on until it sneaks up on you, as in "Milicent, we're leaving for the ballet in 20 minutes."  FruHo has been known to cry out of shear fury under similar circumstances.

If you are interested in earning hostess bonus points (and, really, isn't that what it's all about?), here are some things you should do:

- Have some cold breakfast items (danish, cereal, fruit) set out on the kitchen table, and prepare the coffee pot so all anyone has to do is turn it on.  Put the appropriate dishes out there, too.
- Put your easiest-to-use TV remote in the guest room.
- Set a small vase of fresh flowers in the guest room or bathroom.
- Get your guest's Thing.  Like, if he is a tea lover, get tea and all the accoutrement.  If she loves pulpy orange juice, throw her out get her some.
- Arrange an event.  Whether it's a dinner party or just drinks and darts at the bar, make an effort to honor your guest and introduce him to your friends.  
- If you have one, put a picture of you and your guest in the guest room.  Or, if you have a photo of her child, put that out.  This will make guests feel loved and let them know that you were excited for their visit.
- Bottom line: Do whatever you can to make your visitor feel special.  The older you get, the more lifelong memories are made during these sporadic weekends sprinkled in between the drudgery of your real life.  So don't blow it!


  1. Wow, I have been doing it all wrong, No wonder no one comes to visit any more :)

  2. I never tire of your advice. Always funny, always spot on. Guests are the greatest excuse to clean house. This is the secret as to why I throw so many parties. ;-)


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