7 things to do before people come to stay overnight

Having done this just a few times since we moved to the country I thought that I’d share with you some things I do before we have people come to stay for the weekend.

1. Wash all bed linen and make beds


I try and make the beds with the freshest clean sheets I have. If I’ve got time I will wash them on the same day that the guests are meant to arrive for that EXTRA crispy, fresh smelling clean sheet day feeling! Try and get your washing piles down to zero before a round of visitors too. Dealing with linen, towels and general mess from a weekend is bad enough – don’t make sure you have all your regular stuff to get through too.

2. Buy some fancy guest soap


OR use some that have been given to as presents from other guests (you can get some suggestions on good hostess presents in this post). Place that fancy soap on a towel at the ned of a bed just like a hotel would and it will make your guests feel special. Plus they have fresh soap to use in the bathroom and won’t have to deal with either the non existent cake of soap that is so thin it will snap OR unwanted strange hairs stuck into existing soap. Eeeeew!

3. Delegate meals and booze prior to your guests arriving


You know when people ask “what can I bring?” TELL THEM STUFF. Having people over for the weekend can be an expensive exercise – there are 3 meals a day and usually lots of time sitting around and grazing on snacks not to mention the booze that will be consumed. Be specific. “I’d love it if you took care of breakfast on Saturday or Sunday.” “Great! Please be the nibble queen and bring enough grazing food for Saturday and Sunday.” “Could you bring along the meat for dinner Saturday night?” “Can you be in charge of feeding the kids?” that kind of thing. This way it takes some of the expense and stress off you and makes your guests feel helpful and like they are contributing something too.

4. Meal plan


So not something I would normally do, but it’s essential for weekends filled with guests (and especially if they have kids too). Work out each meal and snacking situation for the entire visit and make sure you shop until every last thing is there. There’s no time for visits to the shops when you have people staying – so make sure that fridge and pantry are chockers. Booze too – needless to say that running out is NOT an option.

5. Clean the house


Now I used to do a deep clean before people came which made me smile knowing that things were spotless before people arrived…but you know what? THEY DON’T CARE IF YOUR HOUSE IS CLEAN. They don’t! They are just so glad that they are away and staying somewhere else that’s not their house that cleanliness is the furthest thing from their minds. I now just do a cheat clean and deal with a deep clean once the visitors have gone….because dear LORD it’s going to need it!

6. General preparedness

IMG_7569 IMG_6517

This is obvious but make sure you have ALL of the things done. You’ll want to spend time with visitors hanging out and having fun so get ready. For me that’s:

  • stack wood pile
  • have washing piles down to nothing
  • ideas for things to do and see
  • movies/entertainment/craft(!) for kids
  • gardens done
  • verandahs swept and pots watered ready to do
  • anything that usually has to get done around the house
7. Fresh flowers EVERYWHERE


Nothing makes a house more like a home than fresh flowers. I use what I can out of the garden and then grab the rest from the fruitshop. Even if you can’t have them everywhere make sure you have some by the bedside of your guest so they can have sweet smelling dreams.

One of the very best things about moving down away from our friends and family has been the quality of time we now spend when people come to stay. There’s nothing like it and all of my favourite memories have been from weekend visits – I can highly recommend it, even with friends in the same city. Why not?! No driving/cab costs or babysitter expense.


Do you have many people come and stay at your place?
Anything hold you back from doing it?
What did I miss?


  1. Unfortunately we haven’t had as many people come and stay while we’ve been over here, but when we have it’s been wonderful. As they’re staying with you, you also get to know them just that little bit better too, which has been great.
    I do a lot of what you’ve already mentioned, except for the meal delegating (as that’s a little impossible).

    I can vouch for you being a fabulous hostess, I still remember my stay with fond, fond memories. xx

  2. Michelle Wineberg says

    Love this bit :
    “One of the very best things about moving down away from our friends and family has been the quality of time we now spend when people come to stay.”

    We moved our family to the country in December, the visits from family and friends have been pure quality time in our squishy little house.

  3. You are SO right when it comes to people not caring what state you house is in when they stay. I reckon as long as their room and the bathroom is ship shape (oh, and the loo!), the rest, they blind side!! On the RARE occasions when I get to leave my house to stay somewhere else, I just revel in the fact that I don’t need to be Sadie for a couple of days………..just revel!!!!

  4. Just wanted to bring attention to a very inspirational little boy from Belfast. When things
    are tough and family life crazy it can help to know these are the “typical” crazy days some families wish for. Love your blog btw. Google “wee oscar Knox” and read his story including his journey home to never land. x

  5. I have been a fully booked hotel for the last 2 months, and I find it gets a bit tiring/sick of it – meals and washing,driving, and kids that dont go to bed, !. They are overseas visitors so delegating food and booze is harder, although they do go and buy some. They stay for too long ( free accommodation , that’s just like a resort ..well we live in a resort in Gold coast) 3 Days should be the maximum. I dont really care about the cleaning now either – just the basics, I figure bugger it, they are getting a weeks accom for free, they can lift a finger. No one does though ( except my parents) , cos they are on holiday! Meanwhile we are trying to carry on normal life with school,work etc. No, Ive decided I have to bring some holiday rules in. I thought numbers would have died off after 2 years , but no.

    • Rules are essential and you HAVE to gov yourself a break to enjoy it all too. I shut it all done by about 2 years because we still hadn’t checked so much places ourselves. Good on you!

  6. We have guests very regularly too. Also because we moved to the country. We love it. On our list is to make sure we have enough motorbikes ready to go. Guests always love a ride around the paddocks.

  7. Fashionista says

    I’m a fan of meal plans, to the extent that I spreadsheet every meal for the whole time period (which also creates a shopping list for supplies), print it out and have it stuck up somewhere so I can refer to it. Earns me a fair bit of teasing but you know what, I can relax because I know I’ve got my shit sorted. It is especially useful when we got to our holiday house as there is limited shopping facilities so I need to ensure that we have everything we need.

    And I agree completely with delegation, if someone asks what they can bring, I always have an answer, for all the reasons you list.

    Enjoy your next visitors!

    • Wowsers…respect sister! Good on you…if you feel in control YOU can enjoy it rather than running around after everyone!

  8. I just wish more people would make the effort and come and visit us. Some of my friends and family haven’t even come to see my new hood in this the 4th year we have been here….Im only 2hrs from the big smoke. Anyhoo…Maybe the allure of the farm in a few years time will draw them in. Or maybe I need an open fire. Who would know? But all those tips you have are sometimes part of the whole fun of having people come to stay. It gets you all excited for the time ahead.

    • It sure does Elisha…hope you have some visitors soon!

    • We left our home town 25+ years ago and are still expected to visit both our families, even those that have left the home town too. If we dont visit them then we are in the wrong.
      They all seem to forget that they could drive the same distance to visit us.
      We just have our holidays where and when we want, hence our impending 3 month trip to the top of W.A. without visiting any of them.

  9. Food delegation, good idea! People ask but I never know what to say, so now I can say the snacky things or breakfast etc. So simple! Maybe you should be doing the Masters, not me!
    I love having people come and stay, its quality time together cause you can chat when cooking dinner, bathing the kids, and I love having more adults around to deal with the kids too. I certainly don’t have as nice sheets as you, something to get on to…

  10. Beth, I am falling more and more in love with every photo that I see of your bed linen. Would you please put me out of my misery and tell me where you buy it from? It is seriously divine.

    As a new owner of a Thermomix, anyone who comes to stay gets to choose what we make for meals, and they are generally so excited by the gadgetry, that they don’t realise they’ve done all the cooking. for the entire weekend. Score!!

    • That is a good trick – I’d love to see one in action over an entire weekend. Nikki did that a bit when we stayed with her in Jan – a mayo here, some dessert there…great things!

      The sheets in this pic are from Anthrolpologie (green) Fictional Objects (yellow pillow slips) and Sheridan (Red and white polka dots)

  11. What about parents that come to stay a whole week? Tips please when I have two little ones & they generally don’t pitch in much esp at crazy hour!

    • Oh Sheree! I don’t have any tips for that other than wine! Good luck 🙂

    • It’s hard since I don’t know the people involved, but you could start with little things like … giving them a book and asking “Could you please read this to _____ while I __________? He/she/they would love it”. “I would be so grateful if you could chop 3 carrots and some celery tonight while I bath _______.” I like to ask things that benefit them too – they get to spend time with the grandchild/ren, they help towards the meal etc.
      I find some people are opposed to helping when they visit, but most are happy to if you give them small, specific directions. They might even offer to do some things after a while. If they seem open to helping out this way, then I would slowly increase the amount of work you ask them to do, OR the frequency.

      Anyone else have any ideas?

    • I have same problem with my in laws. I thought I was “helping them help me” by doing exactly what Bee suggested (“please could you read to the kids”, or “would it be ok if you helped me wash the salad veggies”). However with my in laws it was taken as me bossing them around. I really cant do anything right with them . So I have worked out that there are 2 types of guests 1 lot who are generous, and happy to help, and the other lot who are treating you as a hotel and really don’t want to help (My in laws come from the tradition that if we have them to stay at our house, we do EVERYTHING for them, as they are Guests, Its the old fashioned approach). Drives me mental – especially when they are perfectly capable of making their own tea….OOhhh now I’m ranting! Sorry.
      Most of my mates are perfect house guests, so love having them to stay. Its gorgeous.

  12. When we head out to our weekend cattle property we bake our bread in the bread maker as it’s too far out of town to pop off to the shops. When we have visitors out there I find that they love the smell of baking bread as it adds to the country ambiance. I love that they love it too.
    Ps recently discovered your blog and you are hilarious – you make me laugh out loud on a daily basis. Thanks xx

  13. I used to clean before having friends over…no more! You are right…as long as the basics are clean, no one cares! And the house is just going to get dirty anyway. Better to do a big clean afterwards. There is nothing like the feeling of sitting in a clean house, with a recycling bin full of wine bottles, basking in the glow of a great weekend!

    • Caitlin…that is my FAVOURITE feeling in the world. The post clean I have nothing further to do here moment…it never lasts long but boy do I love it when I get it!!!

  14. Lisa Mckenzie says

    Great tips I only have people to stay occasionally but I totally agree with you about all the things especially the food ,better to have too much than not enough ,flowers are essential and detract from dirt and a nice touch to a guest room is welcoming .

  15. This is so super awesome. I’ve got 4 girls coming to stay at my place for a weekend in June. I particularly love the tips about delegating, making sure all of our personal washing is done beforehand and fresh flowers. Will make sure I tick all of these things off before they walk in the door and the wine starts flowing!

  16. we love having people over – rather than a bar of soap I have shower gel in the bathroom and provide a washer with towel to each guest

  17. Love these tips. Also good to just do them yourself and have a staycation at home 🙂

  18. Great suggestions! I have found a nice cleanish laundromat nearby, so on the occasions when we have back to back visitors or when the weather is not ideal for sheet/towel drying (as it often isn’t in here) the laundromat is my friend! And my other tip I have is to stock up on toilet paper…do visitors eat it? Where does it disappear to? 🙂

  19. All great tips! We are making our tree change next month and I hope our city friends will come to visit, even though for most it could be a day trip I hope we will get some “stayers”!

  20. Ooh thankyou Beth! We are building atm (not recommended when you have a 3 year old and a 5 week old, but anyhoo) and it will signal our sea change as well. We will have a dedicated guest bedroom and bathroom so these tips are super helpful. Thankyou

  21. We have lot of people stay with us (my parents are on their way as we speak!) and I do everything you have listed too! We also have a holiday house that attracts a lot of guests so I tend to treat guests at each house a little differently – in our home, I tend to do everything myself (you’re right, it is expensive!), but at the beach house I let everyone pitch in so I can have a holiday too. If families are coming – sometimes 3 lots at a time(!) – then I often suggest they bring everything they would consume as a family and we pool the provisions together (we’re too far from a big supermarket to make regular trips!). I also ask them to make a meal or two while they’re with us, and then when they leave they thankfully always offer to clean their bedroom/bathroom and strip sheets etc. I used to hate saying yes, but I’ve learned now to graciously accept the help!! And just like Fashionista, I also micro-manage all our meals (have just returned from said beach house to set the pantry up for a big group of visiting family this Christmas!). I also have lists of meal ideas so I don’t get flustered – ploughman’s lunches are great for a big crowd, for instance!

  22. Heidi Sewell says

    Don’t forget the extra toilet rolls!!! Plus if you live by the beach, for summertime visitors have the pile of beach towels ready, and tell your visitors where they are!!! It’s heartbreaking (slight exaggeration, but only slight…) when you pile out of the cars with your visitors, and then see your favourite bath towels being ground into the sand!!!

  23. I love this post. A woman after my own heart. Sadly….not all people appreciate it but then they aren’t ‘my people’. I think I’d love to come and stay with you.

  24. Love all of those suggestions and definitely things we try and do. We’ve also done the tree change and moved a long way from family and old friends and hoping we’ll continue to have more visitors. Good point on the clean. I’m a fairly crappy housekeeper at the best of times but I do freak out a bit before people come. I’m having a party tomorrow night for my birthday (on the actual day for a change) so I am focusing on fun decorating (including the grownup lolly bowl) and now whether there is dust!


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