Create a welcoming space for your house guests

Rachel Thomas, 27, of East Manchester Township readies a bedroom for guests. All linens and accessories courtesy of HomeGoods. (Photo by Kate Penn)

for Smart

You don’t need to be Martha Stewart to make your guests feel at home.

Creating a cozy space for visiting friends and family can be easy and inexpensive.

Joanne Ekeledo, owner of Grace Manor Bed & Breakfast in York, believes creating a welcoming atmosphere isn’t just about the look and feel of your guest room. Instead, being a good hostess starts with how you greet your guests.

“Your attitude really sets the tone for the environment,” Ekeledo said.

“You must have a genuine appreciation and a desire to receive your guests. After that, you need to really serve them, make them feel comfortable and offer them something that they might not receive at home.”

Amenity options

Ekeledo loves to pamper her guests by placing plenty of candles in the guest room to create a warm atmosphere.

“We like to have some plush terry robes to help guests feel cozy and warm,” Ekeledo said. “In the winter, preparing a nice, warm drink is a wonderful way to receive your guests. I make a special mulled rum cider that warms people up when they arrive on a cold day.”

A home-cooked meal is another simple way to help guests feel welcome, Ekeledo said.

“Even if you’re not cooking a meal, having some cookies available for your guests to eat at night helps them to feel appreciated and makes them reflect back to childhood,” Ekeledo said.

Bedding matters

When it comes time for your guests to sleep, providing a comfortable bed is important.

“Mounds of pillows will turn a bed into a luxurious place to sleep,” Ekeledo said. “You can get some really inexpensive pillows, even at local thrift shops. Those always make people feel comfortable.”

Ekeledo recommends adding an area rug to make the space feel more homey. She also always keeps a throw or quilt on the bed.

“Warming the body always makes you feel cozy, which is why I also provide slippers for guests,” Ekeledo said. “By providing slippers to go with a cozy robe, you’re telling your guests to take their shoes off and make themselves feel at home.”

Bathroom essentials

In addition to providing an inviting sleeping area for your guests, Jo Ann Dalton, innkeeper at American Vintage Bed & Breakfast in Hopewell Township, believes a well-stocked bathroom is a must.

“I like to make sure that the bathroom has everything a guest could possible need,” Dalton said. “I provide a hair dryer, mouthwash, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Those things are so inexpensive, but they will mean a lot to your guests if they happened to forget something.”

Dalton also recommends speaking with your guests beforehand to discover if they have any allergies to certain foods or cleaning agents.

“Be careful with the chemicals and materials you use,” Dalton said. “Down comforters can make people break out in hives, as can dryer sheets. I always use natural cleaning products, just to be safe.”

Ultimately, it’s about opening your home and going out of your way to help your guests feel comfortable, cozy and relaxed.

“Show them that you appreciated them staying at your home,” Dalton said.

“Most importantly, tell your guests that for the time that they stay with you, it’s their home, too, not just yours.”

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