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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Simplify Sundays: 4/25 (Planning for Summer Guests)

Debby McCuiston, self-proclaimed "Queen of Clutter-Free", does a segment for us each Sunday on simplifying our lives, getting rid of "clutter", and focusing on what's important.  We love this uplifting weekly segment - and hope you do too!  Take it away Debby...

Well, now that we have welcomed Spring, the next big event in most of our lives happens this time of year. It may be a graduation, wedding or family and friends are coming for a visit. This can be a very stressful time for you and the one going through the event. The secret to surviving these events is planning.
If you have a wedding coming up this summer your planning should be almost be completed. So we won't try to stress you any more than you are already with all the details that need to be completed. Good luck!  We may tackle wedding planning at a later date... 
If you are going to have family or friends in your house for some type of summer event, it is time to plan. Get your calender down (I use a desk calender and it hangs in my hall on the pantry door) and fill in all of the events and the arrival/departure of company for the next 3 months. While you have the calendar, check and make sure you have all birthdays, family celebrations, anniversaries, ballgames,etc... I color code my calendar, so at a glance I know  what is happening in the coming week.
Now you can start to make plans for all the company that will arrive sometime soon! The good thing about planning for company is that when unexpected ones show up you have things on hand to make their stay enjoyable for you and them.
Decide what room you will have them sleep in during their stay. If it is an extra bedroom, a real guest room, or a blow up mattress on the living room floor- decide ahead of time.  Nothing can make someone feel unwelcome as feeling like they are in the way and putting someone out. (Now this may be true, but you don't want them to know that because they will talk about it at every family event you don't attend, for years to come!)  Make sure you have enough bed-covers for each person that is coming.  If you have a guest room, make sure you freshen up the bed covers, throw them in the washer or at least fluff all the dust off. Don't feel like you need to run out and do a complete room makeover before they arrive.
Ask friends if they have an few extra blankets, sheets or pillows.  Clean bed coverings are the most important thing!!!
Now flip through a few magazines (maybe a good thing to do while standing in the grocery line) to see how the high-end resorts make their guest feel welcome.  If you can get your hands on any books by Emilie Barnes, they are great resources on hospitality.  Pay attention to the details: what is on the bedside tables, on the foot of the bed, or in the bathroom. These special places always have everything you could need and whatever you forgot. Maybe have a basket with a razor, shaving creme and some shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, a toothbrush and toothpaste. (If you shop with coupons these items will cost you a few pennies). If you know your company very well, having their favorite fragrance will really  speak to their heart to help them realize how special their are to you.  Nothing says Welcome like walking into a room that says "I planned on your arrival and am glad you are here". Having these things available makes it easier on guests that are flying, they won't have to worry about what will pass inspection at the airport.
Next, plan on filling a basket with some type of snacks. You may have time to bake cookies or some special snack, place those in a sealed container so as not to attract bugs. Some fruit and prepackaged items help to fight off the midnight munchies. Maybe a small cooler with bottled water would be a nice touch.
If they are staying more than a day or two, clear out a space in the closet and a drawer or two. People can relax when they don't feel like they are living out of a suitcase. Now don't go on and on about how you had to spend days finding a place to put everything so that you could give them a drawer or a spot in the closet. It's nice to know people went to a little trouble to make your stay special, they just don't want it thrown in their face.
Leave out on the bathroom counter or in a large basket a fresh towel and washcloth for each guest. No one wants to have company going through cabinets looking for clean towels. Also make sure you let them know what to do with the used linens, either provide a laundry basket or a place to hang them to dry. That helps to keep that bathroom floor free of wet towels, waiting for the "maid" to pick up.
I like to put a basket of magazines, books and puzzle books beside the bed. This gives them something to do if you are busy or they need sometime to rest and relax. Also some fresh flowers from your garden or the grocery store will make any room very welcoming (unless they have bad allergies to the outside world).
I usually don't put a candle to be lit in their room, but something that can melt fragrance tarts with the use of a light bulb are great to have on hand. (Then you won't have to worry if they remembered to blow out the candle.) Having a nice smelling room to stay in will make anyone feel special and loved.  Also remember to provide an air freshener for the bathroom...

Try to prepare as many meals ahead of time and put in the freezer. Make muffins and breakfast items that can be heated up, in case your company loves to get up early and needs something to eat as soon as their feet hit the floor. It's hard to spend all of your time in the kitchen, while others set around and visit or head out to shop. This will keep you from enjoying your company and the thought of having them come back will be out of the question. See - planning ahead is as much for you as it is for your company!

Having friends and family in your home can be a bit stressful. If you plan a head and try to anticipate any need they might have will really help with the stress level. Don't drive yourself crazy with trying to get EVERY detail  covered. You need to also relax and enjoy your company.
Whenever there are friends or family in our home I try to look at it as an opportunity to minister to them.  Making them feel loved and welcomed is very important to me. I have read every book I can find on hospitality, to get ideas and different ways to welcome others into our home. You never know when we may be entertaining "angels". The way we treat others in our home or out, reflects on our relationship with them and our Lord. It would be very hard to invite someone to church when we can't go to a little trouble to have them in our home. When we are willing to invest in others lives and let them in our world, we break down some of the walls that people build up. When I open my home to others, I am also opening my heart to the possibilities of meeting the needs of someone else. You never know what is going on inside of  each person that comes in your home. If you can offer a safe place to lay their head or a cold drink of water you are not only ministering to their physical needs but their spiritual needs as well. (Now this is not to say that everyone that comes to your door needs to come in--be smart and stay safe- ask God to give you wisdom to know the difference). Start with family and friends- they know us the best and need us the most. What a privilege to make a difference in someones life by having them share a cup of tea or coffee and give them the gift of my time. Hospitality is a gift that God gives to us, to give to others. Make a difference in someones life this week and make them feel special.  

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