Preparing for Family House Guests

By Kevin Stevens, Networx

Tick tock, tick tock: The clock is running and the in-laws will be here in one week! For those that live far away from family, these visits have more significance than those who might get a visit every week or two. Here is how I prepare my house for a visit from the in-laws.

Busy Lives and Priorities

Like most people, life can get pretty busy and taking on some extra chores means something else has to give. In both of my brothers’ cases it might mean the cleaning service comes in for an extra day; for me it means a little less sleep since our Denver-area cleaning service is my sweetie and me. This is one of a handful of differences in how people prepare for guests.

For us being mountain recluses, overnight guests are pretty rare and chances are the guest room has transitioned into its more natural state of entropy. We still call the guest room “shipping and receiving” as it tends to collect boxes and packaging from what might have arrived from UPS in the last few weeks or months. It also contains some of the overflow from our pantry.

As the least used room in the entire house, it tends to take the lowest priority. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” holds true here.

The Deeper Clean

It is not like we are slobs or anything; our primary living spaces are clutter-free and virtually spotless. Day to day vacuuming and dusting comprise the majority of our routine cleaning. When guests are scheduled, we get down on our hands and knees and get the dust bunnies out from under the couch and behind the doors. Depending on how many guests are coming and the length of their stay, we may even stock up on paper products and wine. (Wine can really help in keeping thing running smoothly.)

In addition to the in-laws next week (their first visit), we are playing host to my partner’s sister and her husband. This will also be their first visit, so the household head count will be up to 8. Overflow sleeping will be accomplished with an inflatable bed in our library.  One of the guests in next week’s group suffers from MS and is wheelchair bound. My home is not ADA compliant, as all of my door thresholds are a bit higher. One of the tasks on my list is to construct a ramp that will allow a wheelchair easy travel in and out of our sliding doors. Fortunately, I’m a carpenter and I have the skills to build such a ramp.

Keeping Them Entertained

My parents were here recently for a visit. They come out once or twice a year. Since their visit was just a few weeks ago, a good deal of the “work” involved with cleaning and prep has already been done. While spending a lot of time face to face with your guest is good, it is also nice to be able to let them do their own thing. To that end, we had the brilliant idea of relocating our one and only TV into the guestroom. We only watch an hour or two of TV each month via streamed internet content (we canceled our satellite service over 18 months ago), so for us not to have the TV in our bedroom is not a sacrifice at all. Knowing that our guests watch TV every day, it would make them feel more at home to have it available.

One added touch we like to do for guests is to bring in a large bouquet of fresh flowers for the dining room table. It adds certain flair and highlights the special event of their visit.

It is good to be able to share our lives now and then with family… but we are also thankful that these visits are infrequent and short-lived. It may not be that way for others, but we have gotten used to our simpler lives, and it works for us and for our guests.


The Secret to Making Guests Feel Welcome
Best-Dressed Guest Nest
A Custom Made Guest Bedroom


Lynne B.
Lynne B5 years ago

My guests take our home as it is, we are fairly tidy people. I don't deep clean just because someone is coming. I don't want judgmental people in my home thank you.
If they drop in unexpectedly, love me, love my dust.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Flowers are good- so are fluffy towels.

annie s.
christine s5 years ago

Flowers are always a nice touch too.

Lyn Simcock
Lyn Simcock5 years ago

@DawnW - I've nicknamed him HooRoo (an aussie expression meaning - roughly - see you later). He's played peeping 'tom' 3 times now - cute, I guess, but they pack real gut-ripping toes and can be quite dangerous - especially when startled, if they find themselves cornered. I'll tell him you'd like to meet him next time he pops his head in! :)

Dawn W.
Dawn W5 years ago

@Lyn S.-- A kangaroo! Well I wouldn't be comfortable crossing paths with snakes or spiders,but I'd love to meet a kangaroo! Even in an outhouse. :)

Lyn Simcock
Lyn Simcock5 years ago

We don't get many guests (either invited or uninvited) - as soon as they learn we still have an OUTSIDE 'dunny' (loo) they quickly develop ailments or emergencies which prevent them from staying. Anyone with a little more 'pioneering' spirit who claims not to be worried about it, tends to stay away when they learn that there's a chance of meeting snakes on the way there, holding interesting conversations with large spiders while you sit there, or having one particular kangaroo poke his head through the door while you're out there. Puts an entirely new slant on 'communing with nature'. LOL

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V5 years ago


Anne H.
Anne H5 years ago

We've found that sometimes wine makes the visit worse, be careful with that one. I try to check some things before they arrive. Is the visit stay and relax, follow our lives or be a tourist? This gives me an idea of what to plan. I also try to find out if they have food situations so I can shop ahead of time. A comfy, cozy place to sleep and a way to get to their clothing seems to make people happy. The guest room doesn't have to be "the best" just the company.

We are vegan and also used alternative products (bar shampoo, dish soap) and don't have a tv but do have plenty of books. Our guests enjoy trying the different lifestyle and taking public transportation. We take lots of digital photos (visitors always forget) and then send them a link after their visit.

Sonya Armenia Redfield


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