Just google “how to prepare for guests,” and you’ll get:
- Flashy ads for party favors
- Repetitive cleaning checklists
- And even ice breakers and game ideas
When it comes down to it, though, there are other more lasting details that can turn your evening or weekend with loved ones from something “fun” to something unforgettable.
More importantly, there are details that will make guests LOVE the idea of any visit to your home!
A party might have fun food and favors, but what about a casual stop-by?!
A clean home will leave a good impression, but it can also expose areas that need work or “a little something extra.”
Start thinking in terms of what makes a lasting impression on guests, no matter the occasion.
You pull up to a family member’s home for a special dinner you’d planned. The walkway is beautifully lit, and the house number is clearly illuminated from where you park on the street. As you walk toward the soft, warm glow coming from the windows on both sides of the front door, you notice the meticulously-groomed plants along the walkway.
You knock on the door and admire its rich color as you do. It looks like it was recently painted, and the soft, chalky feel of the paint brushes your knuckles as you lightly rap the door. A wreath hangs just above the height of your shoulders, and you admire it for a brief moment before you hear someone turn the handle.
The door opens with a woosh of air, but no sound. No creaking, just the soft “sweep” of the perfectly-installed front door as it glides across the lush carpet inside.
You’re greeted by smiles from family, and when you step in you notice a soft aroma. It’s faint, but after a moment you identify it: it’s jasmine.
The light inside the entryway twinkles, an overhead chandelier dangling like a great jeweled earing from the high foyer. As you look up, it sparkles at you, and between hugs of family members you look down and see you’ve been offered slippers in place of your shoes.
A little surprised, you push your shoes off to the corner and put the slippers on. The inside is so soft that you’re immediately washed over with a sense of ease and relaxation. You feel as though you sink a full inch into them.
You follow everyone into the living room and sit down for what turns out to be a wonderful evening. Surprisingly, one of the highlights is the first time you use the restroom! The powder room along the hall is visible as soon as you turn the corner, thanks to a soft glow glistening from inside. You enter the space and see that under-cabinet lighting illuminates the floor.
Once you flip the light on—which brightens slowly, giving your eyes time to adjust—you see a large wicker basket filled with small hand towels at the sink, each rolled and placed one next to the other, like so many pinwheels.
Then, the toilet…wow! You had heard about it, but when you try it for yourself, you’re still impressed with how the lid rises automatically at the wave of your foot. The heated seat is quite pleasant. Then, waving your foot for a touch-free “flush” is just as satisfying as the lid slowly and silently lowers on its own.
After washing your hands and returning to your family, you see that everyone has migrated to the dining room. The beautiful vintner table along the side of the room has the prettiest brass hardware on the three elegant drawers. You think, “what good taste my family has.”
Speaking of taste, you’re thrilled at the dinner choices. Your hosts remembered who doesn’t eat gluten, who prefers fish, and who loves spicy food. You eat well, and by the end of the night your stomach and heart are both full.
As the evening winds down, right after that third glass of wine, you’re a moment away from wondering if it’s gotten a little hot. But then, you hear the air conditioning start to blow softly in the background. Your family explains how the occupancy sensors in their home recognize the number of people in a room or a rising temp and adjust the thermostat accordingly.
How to achieve a “wow” experience for your guests
Some of the simplest luxuries in a home can provide lasting impressions on guests, even without a big occasion.
A detail like individual hand towels is not just elegant, it also prevents the unpleasant experience of guests drying their hands with the single (eventually wet) hand towel in the powder room.
Other details provide pleasure where there would otherwise have been nothing at all! For example, a beautiful selection of brass pulls on a Signature Navy furniture piece adds an aesthetic that no one would have “missed,” but everyone absolutely enjoys.
Many of the details woven into a pleasant experience for guests are details that aren’t even on the radar of most homeowners. The toilet is a perfect example!
There are also whole strategies around how to make first impressions in your home for your home. Do you know, really, what kind of first impression your home gives?
Try to put the details YOU notice from the story above into a list. Which can you use in your home right away? Or which can you add?
Here’s our own list to get started…
Ways to “wow” your guests…
- Keep your yard well-groomed
- Have your home exterior power-washed at least once per season
- Ensure a clean entryway (washed and free of debris)
- Ensure adequate lighting outdoors, at the front door (including the house number)
- Use the light directly inside as the lighting that “sets the mood” you’re after!
- Consider details at the front door like a new coat of paint or décor to spruce things up
- Keep up with basic home maintenance of doors, windows, finishes and home systems
- Offer slippers for guests to wear indoors, especially during the winter
- Use soft aromas, but never overdo it (some people are sensitive to powerful smells)
- Ensure each space has a little design “eye candy,” such as decorative lighting, custom outlet or light switch covers, “pops” of color in towels or pillows, etc.
- Control lighting throughout your home with dimmers
- Under-cabinet lighting to keep people safe (and keep toes intact in unfamiliar spaces)
- Leave a basket with fresh hand towels rolled for guests in the bathroom
- Consider some “wow” selections like a “smart toilet…”
- Use occupancy sensors to automate things like music, temperature, and even starting the oven to cook the meal you’ll serve!
- Know who eats and drinks what, and have it on hand
An experience like this can be just as satisfying (if not more) for hosts as it is for guests!
Stop and think, who is visiting your home next? How many of these (and similar) improvements can you make happen before then?!
Create a home maintenance plan you can follow, too…one thing that WILL make an immediate impression (for worse) is if guests come in and a door creaks (especially the bathroom), or a floorboard is loose, or the HVAC is noisy, or the a floorboard sticks out…
Think about which visits you’re most excited for this holiday season, then get ready now!!