If your out-of-town visitors have kids, you can relax a bit; they'll probably bring some of their own clutter with them. But other guests (especially elderly ones), will probably appreciate at least one kid-free zone in your house. Try the following tips to make them feel welcome.
The Absolute Basics
- Do a quick once-over. If you have time for nothing else, at least wipe toothpaste and soap residue from the guest sink, Gracia says. (Clorox or Lysol cleaning wipes are lifesavers.) Also high on the priority list: cleaning gunky hair out of the shower drain and hauling waterlogged toys out of the bathtub.
- Provide towels. Stack clean towels in the room where guests are staying so there's no confusion about whose towel is whose.
- Use grown-up bedding. Make the guest bed with clean sheets -- preferably ones without Thomas the Tank Engine on them.
- Leave laundry for last. Wash the towels and sheets the morning before your overnight guests arrive; few things are more welcoming than a bed with freshly laundered sheets.
- Tidy bedroom bookcases. "Aligning books or DVDs toward the front of each shelf makes the whole room look neater," Garcia says. "It's a small touch that makes a big impact."
- Set up a suitcase valet. Guests appreciate having a place to stash their stuff without putting it on the bed or floor, Smallin says. But if you don't own a hotel-style valet, use a toy chest covered with a decorative cloth.
- Set up a minibar. Place an ice bucket filled with soft drinks, juice, or bottled water in your guest's room.
- Include your guests. You don't have to do it all. They're happy to pitch in, even just holding the baby, if you give them a little bit of direction.