The Gift of Guests

Bill asked, “Hey Jo Rae: This is gonna sound like a semi-silly question, but here goes. What is a good all-around soap to keep in your guest bathroom? I mean one that will appeal to either male or female, and is good for showers, and hand-washing. Should I get different ones for each of those purposes? I can go to my local BB&B (Bed, Bath, and Beyond of course) if need be. Thanks Friend!”

Bill, thanks for your question. I love to visit others, and have guests in my home, don’t you? Whether they’re relatives, friends, or my children’s friends, I try to make my home as accommodating as possible.  Here’s a few easy and inexpensive ideas you can use to welcome guests into your home.
I adore baskets. I pick them up at thrift stores (Salvation Army, Goodwill) for as little as .25 to a $1.00. Pick a basket in a neutral color or spray paint one to match your bath décor. There are benefits to having a basket with a handle. If you decide to put the basket in your guest room, your guest can easily carry it to the bathroom. If the basket is staying in the bath, you may choose to use a basket without a handle. Choose your basket size based on its contents.

•    Bathroom Basket

Hotels know guests forget items like soap, shampoo and conditioner so it’s standard for hotels to place them in their rooms. These perks go into my suitcase for my guest basket at home.The items are the perfect size for short-term stays, and are gender neutral. There are a number of items I like to include in guest bathroom baskets and many of the items I  stock are provided to me free. Here’s a sample list.  You may want to add your personal favorites as well.

  • Small bar of soap (wrapped)
  • Toothbrush (New and wrapped from my dental check-ups)
  • Travel-size tooth paste (Dentist gives me at check-ups)
  • Floss (Dentist provides at check-ups)
  • Travel size shampoo
  • Travel size conditioner
  • Q-Tips
  • Cotton balls or squares
  • Tissues
  • Travel-size mouthwash
  • Several wrapped mints
  • Washcloths (these should be cloths you don’t mind your guests using to remove make-up)
  • Ibuprofen
Bathroom Accessories
I keep these items in the spare bathroom under the cabinet all the time. When guests arrive I pull them out and place them in view so my guests won’t have to ask for them.
1.    Hair dryer – When my kids moved out they left a dryer, but you can pick up an inexpensive hair dryer at a thrift or bargain store.

2.    Flowers – One reason I adore flowers in my yard is for cutting. Your guests can be greeted with a flower in a simple vase. Get creative. I’ve used a Sprite bottle, grapefruit juice container, wine bottle, and hinged corked sparkling lemonade bottle to display flowers. These items not only provide a cute, no-cost vase, your guests may take their flowers with them home to remember their stay and your hospitality.
3.    Towels and additional washcloths – When hosting large groups or families, I put a large basket with rolled up towels outside the bathroom door. Visitors can grab a towel and I know when replenishment is needed. I lay the additional washcloths on the countertop, neatly folded.
4.    Hand soap – I adore a pretty dispenser for my liquid hand soap. Choose a non-scented, anti-bacterial soap. Fill your dispenser and place it to the left side of the sink (most people are right-handed).
5.    Paper Hand Towels – I grew up with the traditional hand towel hanging from a ring on the bathroom wall. The towel was more of a decorative accessory than a functional item since no one felt comfortable actually wiping their hands on it. I have a paper hand towel holder and stock them with decorative hand towels. I have fun changing them out seasonally and for holidays, and my guests don’t mind using them because they can throw them away. You can purchase inexpensive towels at TJ Maxx & Marshalls. I like to get holiday towels after the holiday when they’re on clearance.
6.    Trash Can – Obviously, you need a place to throw the used hand towel as well as used q-tips and cotton balls. I sit a small waste basket next to the toilet. I use a wicker basket (often found again at a thrift store and painted).
7.    Bath Mat – Another tip from hotels, place a terry bath mat across the side of the tub in view. Your guests will have a place to land when stepping out of the tub or shower.
8.    Robe – If you have a hook on the inside of your bathroom door or on a bathroom wall, hang a plain white, light-weight, large robe with a tie. The tie allows the robe to be adjusted to fit your guests.
Guest Room Supplies
While there is no place like home, you can make a few accommodations that will make your guests feel welcome.

1.    Water bottle – Whether it is for taking pills or quenching thirst, I always leave a unopened bottled water next to my guests’ bed.
2.    Paper and Pen – Also next to the bed I’ve placed a pad and pen for jotting notes, phone numbers, or creative thoughts while visiting.
3.    Alarm Clock – They might not need one, but should your guests have to be somewhere at a specific time, they will appreciate this option. An Alarm Clock/Radio is a special treat. Set the station to a local Christian or light jazz station.
4.    Mirror – This may sound silly, but I’ve stayed in rooms without a mirror. If the bathroom is being shared by many, your guests may wish to put on their makeup and roll their hair in their room. A mirror situated where they can sit comfortably will give them the option of staying in their room to get ready.

5.    Robe – If you didn’t provide a robe in the bathroom, you might consider having one in your guest room.

6.    Flowers – Once again, a nice treat to place on the night stand next to the bed.

7.   Instructions – Make a small tent card with special instructions and place on the dresser. For example, if you have internet service and it is password protected, put the password on the tent. Does your garage have a code for coming and going? You might want to share that number with your guests if they will be in and out without you. If you have house rules that apply to guests (like no smoking inside the house) post them there as well. It might help prevent any potential uncomfortable situations.
8.    Beach Towel – Whether you have your own pool or belong to a neighborhood pool or club, have an extra beach towel on hand. Your guests may have forgotten to bring one along.
9.    Goodnight Kiss – One of my favorite treats for my guests at home came from my years in the hotel industry. Turn down service included a note on their pillow. The note said, “Your Good Night Kiss”  and  perched on top was a Hershey’s kiss. This is one kiss that never got turned down!

  1. Crystal, Liberty, SC, 23 May, 2011

    Thank you for the list on how to properly make your guest feel welcomed. I have printed it and will keep a copy so that the next time I have guest I can relax knowing I am prepared to properly make whoever is visiting feel right at home..

  2. maria, 23 May, 2011

    Very nicely done Jo. 🙂

  3. Linda Greer, 23 May, 2011

    Great suggestions. I do this myself except for the welcome card and bedtime kiss! Those are new to me and I will try to remember next time I have a guest–who knows, maybe you will come see me!


  4. jorae, 23 May, 2011

    I’d love to! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  5. jorae, 23 May, 2011

    Thanks, Maria! You’re the best!

  6. jorae, 23 May, 2011

    Thank you, Crystal. I’m glad to be of help! Blessings ~

  7. Debbie King, 23 May, 2011

    Jo Rae, you never cease to amaze me. This is some wonderful information to have on hand. Hopefully, I can put it to use in a couple of weeks when you come for a visit. You are so creative with all your ideas and I am sure anyone would be honored to be a guest in your beautiful home. Thanks for some new insights.

  8. jorae, 24 May, 2011

    Thanks, Debbie! You’re quite the hostess yourself! I appreciate your kind words.

  9. Bill Summers, 25 May, 2011

    Jo Rae, I am gonna run with your basket idea. The bottled water one too.

  10. jorae, 25 May, 2011

    Enjoy your company!

  11. Debbie King, 05 June, 2011

    Jo Rae, What a pleasure it was to have you as a guest in my home recently. After reading this article again, I see I fell short in a couple of areas. However, you were an excellent guest. I think you should do a follow-up on this one with things to do in order to be the perfect guest. You should have a long list. Just a different perspective on the same topic. See you soon.

  12. jorae, 06 June, 2011

    Great minds think alike, Debbie~ On the way home, I’d thought about writing about being the perfect guest (not that I’m one!) Guess you confirmed this would be a good idea! I loved staying in your home. You were the perfect hostess and the entire weekend was shear pleasure. Thank you!


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