1. Make sure your space is clean. This is probably a given, but eliminating the dust bunnies from under the bed shows you care about your guests' comfort. It also helps deter any allergic reactions that your guest might have (no one wants to be sneezy from dust and dander). To that point...
2. Use neutral cleaning products. Make a concerted effort to use natural, eco-friendly agents when tidying up your home and doing laundry. Some detergents and products rely on harsh chemicals and overwhelming scents to create the "clean" feeling. You can clean just about anything with a little borax, salt, vinegar, water and/or essential oils. The fabulous Kate Payne has some great suggestions on her website. I'll be posting my own all-nautral, homemade cleaning remedies soon!
3. Find ways to brighten up your space. Fresh flowers and soft candlelight are great ways to do this. If guests have a problem with the flowers, it's easy to remove them. Invest is long lasting, lightly-scented or non-scented candles that are soy- or natural/beeswax-based.
4. Don't let your guests get bored at night. Visit your local library and check out some magazines that suit your guests interests or highlight local places and spaces. Some libraries even have bins of magazines they are looking to unload, so grab some for yourself, as well. (bonus - it's free!) You could even check out some DVDs or music for your guests' enjoyment.
5. Anticipate your guests needs. I'm not saying suddenly become clarvoyant and read their minds. But think about what they might need while at your home. I like to keep a basket with toiletries (extra toothbrushes, lotion, asprin), a few snacks, and a bottle of water or two in the guest room (I also throw in other little things, like lint rollers, for "just in case" situations). What a relief it will be for your guests when they can turn to that basket for a forgotten necessity after a long day of travel! Another helpful trick - leave a basket of blankets, quilts or pillows available for your guests in case of a chilly night. These things make all the different, I promise you.
6. Keep local information handy. Have a few maps of your area in the above basket, or turn to Dr. Google to print off some maps and highlight local eateries and attractions. Go paperless and suggest that your friends download some smartphone apps like OpenTable, UrbanSpoon or Foodspotting to use while they explore your neck of the woods.
7. Think of the small touches. Isn't is always nice when you go to a new hotel or inn and you find mints on the pillow, or a chilled bottle of wine, or a simple note? Create that same experience for your guests. Leave a little card letting them know how happy you are for their visit. Present a simple gift (I sent Tara and Liz home with some jam. Try including a little box of chocolate or bar of soap from a local establishment to remind your guests of their time at your house). One night, I left some chocolate-chip cookies on the nightstand as a midnight snack. Think of something sweet and simple you could do to make your friends feel extra-welcomed.
9. Be sure to leave a light on. Or at least a nightlight. You don't want guests stumbling around in the middle of the night trying to find the bathroom, so put nightlights (or electric candles) out strategically to help night owls find their way.
Any other tips you can suggest? What to do you do to prepare for houseguests and weary travelers? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below, continue the conversation on Twitter, or shoot me a note on Facebook!
Images courtesy of Martha Stewart Living, Nicola Laird's Pinterest, Janey Pugh's Pinterest, and Mariah Hermsmeyer's Pinterest,