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putting out the welcome mat for houseguestsDepending on who's coming to stay, having house guests over can either be a really welcome occasion, or one that calls for lowering the shades so no one thinks your home~!

Whether it's for a family reunion, wedding guests, or a group of holiday revelers staying the night - a little preparation beforehand is always in order.

In addition to vacuuming and cleaning the entire house to get it 'guest-ready', here's a Top Ten houseguest checklist that will you host house guests without stress to result in a very happy and pleasant experience for everyone:

Houseguest readiness checklist

Be sure to have enough food on hand for the number of people coming over and for the duration of their stay. Keep in mind the makings for child-friendly meals if kids are visiting. Before guests arrive, also try to find out if anyone has food allergies or required dietary restrictions.

In the bedroom, change sheets, pillowcases and bed covers, and have extra pillows and covers available. On the bedstand, leave an alarm clock, a box of tissues, books, magazines, or travel guides and maps that you think guests might find useful. Also, help guests keep organized by having a foldable table or other clear surface readily available at the foot of the bed for use as a suitcase stand.

Make room in a nearby closet designated for guests who arrive with suits or dresses that need to be hung up.

In the bathroom, set out guest hand towels, bath towels and washclothes, a small hair dryer if necessary, and a basket of toiletries.

In the kitchen, make an inventory of dishes, coffee cups, and sets of silverware to make sure you have the correct number for guests to use — or buy disposable plastic cups, dishes or cutlery to cut down on dishwashing during their visit.

If space is tight, think about buying portable/stackable/foldable furniture such as tables, bean bag lounge chairs, or air mattresses.

Write down household instructions explaining how things work around the house, including alarm systems, traditional times for lunch or dinner, smoking rules, or what to recycle.

Find out beforehand when shops, theaters, or museums are open. Create an activity list of suggested local scenic drives or local attractions guests can enjoy during their stay.

Have a spare key made. Hide it somewhere near the door or under the welcome mat so houseguests can let themselves in from a late night outing, or for during the day when you're not at home.

Finally, be sure to have a list of emergency phone numbers on hand (and let guests know exactly where to locate it) in the event something happens when you're not there.

More about having house guests around the Web:

Around the Web, find more great tips at top sites offering checklists and clever planning strategies for making it a painless experience, plus suggestions on surviving the sometimes annoying house guest - and even smarter tips on how to avoid becoming one...

5 Tips: Getting ready for houseguests - CNN Money guide to opening your house up to guests over the holidays.

Managing Overseas House Guests: When home turns into a Hilton - Feature article from Overseas Digest with practical tips on how to manage them, what to prepare for, and other ideas for keeping your sanity and your sense of humor while keeping your visitors entertained.

How to Be a Good Houseguest - The top ten tips including - follow the 'three-day' rule; don't be a slob; treat them to dinner; help with the dishes; and other practical suggestions from Digs Magazine about the right thing to do in sharing costs and burdens with your host. And don't forget that thank you note...


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