Jeff Wasserman/Studio Six/Stocksy
Preparing for a string of overnight visitors this holiday season? Heloise (aka Poncé Kiah Marchelle Heloise Cruse Evans), the woman you might know from her encyclopedic knowledge of household cleaning tips, also possesses a wealth of advice on making a home guest-friendly. And if all her tips start with the basic premise “Make your guests feel comfortable,” they also all rely on one basic exercise: Put yourself in their shoes, right down to sleeping for a night in their bed, which Heloise cops to doing on a regular basis. (See tip No.1.)
Here are four ways the guru of guest prep suggests you can be a sparkling host this season.
1. Stay a night
Partly because she likes the “spa experience” and partly because she’s on top of these things, Heloise sleeps in her guest bedroom a few times a year. Doing so, she says, makes her aware of anything that needs a fix or an update. “I realized the lighting on the left side of the bed wasn’t sufficient for reading, and I never would have known that if I hadn’t stayed there.” (She also leaves a flashlight for guests in case of emergency.) A guest-room overnight may help you realize your magazine rack needs an update. Heloise leans toward stocking regional publications so that guests can learn about her native Texas, or special vintage editions of periodicals such as Vanity Fair, which have a wide and enduring appeal, she notes. She also leaves out a basket with a notepad, pens, postcards and decorative stamps.
2. Stack extra linens
Along with fresh linens on the bed and clean towels hanging in the bathroom, Heloise provides extra sheets, towels, pillows and blankets in a guest room (along with robes and slippers) so that visitors can help themselves should the need arise. “Never ask if they need an extra blanket,” she advises. “Just provide one.” (Another great pointer: If you have pets who find their way to the guest bed when it’s not occupied, keep the comforter or quilt clean by draping a sheet over it until guests arrive.) Heloise also recommends deeply colored towels over white ones because they often hold up in the laundry better and won’t, say, yellow over time.
3. Freshen the bath
Stock a shelf or fill a basket with travel-size soaps, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, in case your guests have forgotten any toiletries. To keep the room smelling fresh, Heloise recommends that you regularly flush the guest room toilet and use the sink when the room is unoccupied. Otherwise, she says, the plumbing trap that normally prevents sewer gas from wafting in can dry out, leading to odor. For a signature touch, Heloise also sprays a tissue with Texas-bluebonnet room spray and leaves it in an otherwise empty trash can right before guests arrive. As for scented candles, keep in mind that one person’s soothing lavender can be another’s cloying annoyance. So let guests light any candles you might provide (just don’t forget the lighter). Or, says Heloise, provide ambience without a scent (or risk of fire) with battery-powered candles.
4. Leave a note
Guests will want your Wi-Fi password, so leave an index card with it — along with any other technical information such as your security or gate code — by the front door or on a guest room nightstand. Heloise also leaves a note by her coffee maker, detailing necessary instructions and supply locations, and sets out the makings of a simple breakfast for early risers. She also recommends that you show guests where you keep things such as bottled water, soda or alcohol. “I tell them, ‘I’ll make you the first drink, and after that, help yourself!’ ”