INVITING INDOOR SPACES
Just as with the outdoors, clearing a path in your entry or foyer makes arrival with coats and/or suitcases easier. Your guests will often greet each other at the door, so a little extra space for congregating is helpful when possible. Make sure your coat closet has ample room and extra hangers, and provide a coat rack for overflow if it will likely be needed. Because the foyer is a transition to the living space, art, furnishings, and décor can be striking, yet simple and uncluttered. Your closest relatives and friends frequently come to your back door instead of the front, making similar considerations and accommodations helpful.
As you and your guests move through your home and the through the day or the period of their visit, the needs and uses of each space could vary greatly. Thinking through the activities that will likely occur and the spaces where they will take place may point to the potential need for flexibility and rearrangement. Meals are the most commonly occurring activity that will need your full focus, and may be, of course, the only event on the agenda.
TIME TO DINE
Do-ahead preparation can clear the way for stress-free hosting and actually being able to enjoy time with your visitors. From organizing your cookware, serving pieces, and table settings to planning seating arrangements, advance attention can reduce last-minute distractions. These little things, when left to the last minute, may seem like big things. The number of people you’re entertaining will have a big impact on the pre-planning needed and the effort required just before and during the event.
The type of table you arrange and the service you set up will establish the tone for the meal, whether formal or casual. If you are serving a larger group, seating may be needed in multiple rooms. To tie it all together visually, use a similar type, style, and color of linens, placemats, and accents such as arrangements and candles. Even though everyone is not seated at a single table, it can still be a coordinated design. With creativity and the right accessories, it is even possible to set an elegant yet casual table with paper plates. They are a great alterative for a larger event and, of course, cleanup is a breeze.
Many homes no longer have formal dining rooms. If you have this type of floor plan or are otherwise shopping for dining furniture, be sure to check out the many flexible and multi-purpose table designs, some with multiple heights and self-stored leaves. Mobile carts are also useful and can move from room to room and outside if needed.
A pleasant and comfortable guest room leaves space for your guests. The room should be nicely decorated, but you should provide surfaces, closet space, and drawers for guests to put their things away. Draperies or window coverings are important for privacy and light control. Portable luggage racks are very useful and easily stored after use. Ample lighting is a must, and lamps with multiple light levels are a thoughtful touch. If you are furniture shopping and space is a challenge, new designs for sleeper couches actually offer both style and comfort. Murphy beds also create multi-use spaces and extra accommodation for tight quarters. A night-light in the hallway, an extra blanket, coasters for the table−you’ve thought of everything!
Indulge your guests with thoughtful touches in the bathroom−luxurious towels, fine soaps, fluffy rugs, maybe even a towel warmer. Make sure the basics are readily available−toiletries in case they were forgotten, a new toothbrush, and a hair dryer, for example. Leave a drawer free or perhaps provide a tray for personal items. You might want to include an assist bar in the shower for safety.
For your overnight guests: dinner’s done, but what’s next? Activities will differ depending on the age group and interests of your guests as well as the options available in your home. Movies on the big screen are always a great choice, and allow some down time after a lot of activity. Through the years, board games have been one of our favorite activities and have given us many fond memories. Active games such as ping-pong, pool, or exer-gaming are always great. Music and conversation keep the evening lively and engaging.
Whether your guests number two or twenty-two, hosting and entertaining can be fun and entertaining for all. Keep it light, stress-free, and simple, and most of all−enjoy!
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