Portland Monthly

Step 332: Handle houseguests in top-notch style

I’m not going to lie: hosting houseguests is a beast. Well, that’s not entirely fair, but it is a big undertaking. It’s also an incredibly kind thing to do for someone you love, and you will feel like an amazing, capable grown-up if you take just a few steps ahead of time to make it run smoothly.

Before they arrive:

Food — any houseguest worth their salt will not expect you to provide them with meals morning, noon and night, but it is a really sweet thing to ask ahead of time what they like for breakfast, then stock those things. Even something simple, like having their favorite cereal, is such a pro move. Also, taking their dietary preferences and needs into account a week or so ahead of time when you’re grocery shopping is not strictly necessary, but very sweet.

Linens — wash them, duh. And also, leave a stack of two clean towels either in their room or clearly designated as such in the bathroom.

• It’s nice to have the basic first-aid and over the counter meds on hand. As reader Jennifer pointed out, “Maybe you never need an antacid, you are opposed to using bandages, you take no painkillers for headaches, and you don’t ever take decongestant (and are mercifully not allergic to your cat), but you never know when an overnight or even just dinner/brunch/clothing swap guest will need some of these supplies.”

• Make sure you know exactly when they’re coming, exactly when they’re leaving, and see if they need any rides to or from the airport, train station, whatever. 

• There are lots of small, easy things to do that will make them feel so welcome. In the room where they’re staying (even if it’s just an air mattress on the living room floor), it’s great to make sure they have a reading light, and a little table by the bed. Stack up some funny, universally popular books (Bossypants, for example, or Hyperbole and a Half) that they can flip through. Leave a cute little card with the wifi name and password. Get a cheap-o $5 bouquet and put it on their nightstand.

“I love to make the room look really nice ahead of time,” said Chris, my boyfriend’s mom who is also the best hostess ever and is constantly having houseguests. “If you make it obvious that you are really making it nice for them, it just makes them feel really welcome — people are nervous when they’re going to someone else’s house.”

• Get a spare toothbrush or two, and a new bar of soap. “No one else likes someone else’s old bar of soap,” Chris noted.

Shopping list: A spare copy of your key, breakfast food of choice, basic first-aid stuff if you don’t have it, a cheap bouquet, a new bar of soap, and a toothbrush. 

While they’re staying:

• Give them a copy of your key so they can come and go — if you live in an apartment, maybe give your neighbors a heads-up that you have guests so they don’t think someone’s breaking into your house.

• Tell them how to make coffee in the morning, any secrets of operating the shower, and where the extra blankets are. “It’s horrible to be in someone’s house and wake up in the middle of the night and be really cold,” Chris said, and she is so right, that is the worst.

• It’s not only OK but a great thing for you to kind of go about your business while they’re there. No one wants to feel like a burden, and also, just like you don’t want to have to socialize with them 24 hours a day, they probably don’t want to socialize with you 24 hours a day. Don’t feel like you have to wait on them hand and foot, because that’s not comfortable for anyone.

• It is nice, though, to think of a few activities they might be into or want to see while they’re with you. Chris said she also likes to put a recent issue of Portland Monthly or a guide to local hikes nearby, so people can do their own research.

Graciously accept their help, or gifts of gratitude. If they want to take you out to dinner, let them! If they want to help with cooking or the dishes, that is wonderful. It’s a way for your guest to feel like they’re not a total imposition, and accepting things graciously is an excellent skill to have.

Anything I’m missing?

Can I send a better version of myself to my interview tomorrow?

Tomorrow afternoon I have my interview for the U of O School of Journalism and Communication Senior Experience, an internship program the U of O offers for journalism students in their final term (or close to their final term) of college up in Portland. 

I lack the words to express how much I want this. Not only would it be beneficial to me financially due to the fact that I could live at home, but also there are so many more opportunities in Portland for internships and just stories to write in general.

There aren’t a lot of magazines in the Northwest, but there are more in Portland than there are here in Eugene, and I would love to write for a publication like Portland Monthly or even Portland Bride and Groom. I also like the idea of taking classes up closer to home, I am always more focused when I do my homework at my parents’ house. 

If anyone reads this please send good vibes my way tomorrow at about 4:30 pacific time! I would love all the support I can get, even if it’s form a bunch of strangers! I’ve wanted to work for Vogue my entire life, pretty much, and this program would be a great way to help me get a leg up in the magazine world!

Ah, I’m so nervous!