The Perfect Visit: How to Survive and Enjoy Houseguests!

house guests

photo by mtl2tky

This is a guest post by Maria Murphy of
Simply Put Together.

Well, there is nothing like the thrill of a visit! Whether you are the host or the visitor, there is plenty of anticipation and expectation. And, then there is the reality. We all know how that goes. I mean, it seems like such a good idea, but visits can end up being a real source of stress and frustration. Things like misunderstandings and lack of privacy can lead us all to be checking the days off on the calendar, wishing away the very thing we have been looking forward to.

But getting the most out of your time with visiting, whether you are a guest or a host, isn’t really that hard. A few tweaks will get you to results you want!


This is the most important tool you can use! Communication begins when you start talking dates and doesn’t end till everyone has said their goodbyes. Keeping an open line of communication will pay off for hosts and visitors alike!

For the host:

1. Gather info – Find out about your guests expectations. What are they hoping to do? Do they love nature, gourmet food? What are they eager to see and do?
1. In action: “I am so excited you are coming! What kind of things would you like to do while you are here?”
2. Communicate your expectations – Start to prep your guests, so there are no unwanted surprises.
1. In action: “Joe and I have one outing we have to attend while you are here. So, you will be on your own on that night. We’ll give you lots of great suggestions for fun while we are out!”
3. House Rules – Show your guests the ropes. They cannot know how to respect the specifics of your house rules if you don’t tell them. Remember, a moment of discomfort will demonstrate your expectation and save you a lot of grief!
1. In action: “Sorry, kids can’t have drinks on the couch. It’s our house rule.”
4. Communicate with yourself – Know your barriers and issues. Do you flip out when you don’t get your alone time? Are you a neat freak and your messy guests are making you nervous? Know what you need and what gets under your skin!

For the guest:

1. Ask, don’t announce. No matter how close you are with your host, always ask!
1. In action: “We would love to come and visit on the 17th of September, does that work for you?”
2. Be clear. Give your host the most detailed info you can.
1. In action: “We will arrive on the 17th. We think it will be between 3 and 4, depending on traffic. We’ll leave Sunday afternoon, around 2:00. How does that sound?”
3. Ask your host about their rules. Respect how they run their household.
1. In action: “Where do I put the used towels and how often do you tend to use them before washing?”


Planning is the key to success for most things, especially visiting. A few things you can do will change everything!

For the host:

1. Prepare for the visit – Get as many of your responsibilities as possible out of the way. You always have less time than you think. By doing it now, you will save yourself stress later. Don’t fall into telling yourself you have enough time. You probably don’t!
2. Make sure all is cleaned, fridge stocked, etc. Don’t delay!
3. Have your “emergency kit” in place. This could mean having your signature dish at the ready if there is a last minute decision to eat at home. Guests need something to do? You know what’s going on in the community. A good place to eat? You have the answer. You probably won’t need the “emergency kit,” but if you are prepped, then when the flow changes, it won’t matter to you. Because you have your emergency kit.

For the guest:

1. Prepare for the visit. Make sure you respect your host by arriving and leaving as planned. Make sure you have all of your supplies. Don’t assume you will be borrowing all manner of supplies while visiting.
2. Bring a gift and plan to contribute. Always bring a gift for your host. If you plan a bit ahead, the gift can be that much more thoughtful. Plan to make or buy dinner for your hosts to show appreciation.

Keep to the Routine

There are some things you cannot plan around. Some responsibilities and interests cannot be put to the wayside during your guests visit. In that case, keep up!

For the host:

1. Make sure you don’t lose your way while taking care of your guests.
1. Keep up with your responsibilities
2. Keep up with the things that are meaningful to you

For the guest:

1. Accept that your hosts still are at home and may have some interests or responsibilities to take care of.

Be Flexible

Even though it seems like a contradiction, the key to success here is the balancing act of working with routine and being flexible. When guests are around, compromise is definitely in the program. If everyone can bend a bit, all will have a better time.

For guests and hosts:

1. Know the areas you struggle with and use self talk to get you through.
1. In action: “I can be flexible here. I can go with the flow.”

Time apart

Everyone needs time to breathe. My husband and I have always gotten a bit of time apart on each trip we have taken together. Whether with or without kids, we each get a bit of alone time. It could be time alone on the beach, taking a hike or a class. It’s amazing what we both bring back by giving each other just a touch of alone time. Same is true for visiting.

For the host:

1. Make sure there is a quiet space for your guests and a quiet space for you. No matter how small your home, there is a way to make this happen.

1. In action: “I am going to run errands for an hour or so, so you will have the house to yourself till I get back.”
2. Example: “I am going to take a nap in my room. Is there anything you need before I take my nap?”

For the guest:

1. Consider giving your host some time off. Retire to your room. Explore the community on your own. Take some time away.
1. In action: “I was going to take a run by myself first thing in the morning, before our day gets started.”


Remember this is about gathering with the people you love. This is an opportunity to be with people you care about. It’s also an opportunity for you to break out of your routine and try new things. Whenever you share someone’s lifestyle, you have an opportunity to open up your world!

Have fun and check out Simply Put Together, for the planner that enriches your life. Also sign up for the free “One Minute” e-letter. One simple life changing tool delivered to you each week in a “one minute to read” format!

For more details on Maria’s book and website, visit Simply Put Together.

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