When guests come to visit, you want their stay to be perfect. The beds are made, pillows fluffed and the music is playing in the background. Having most of my family live far away, we have found some preparations helpful in making their stay as comfortable as possible (and the more comfortable their stay, the longer the next visit, we hope). Some of these suggestions are things we actually do, some of them are ideas we wish we had thought of in advance, and some are what our guests probably wish we had prepared for them. Find what works for you and your sleepover company, and enjoy the upcoming chagim, hopefully with a houseful of friends and family.
When guests come for a visit, whether it’s for a night, a Yom Tov or an extended stay, there are little details that can make their accommodations go from a “stay” to an “experience.”
If, like many new constructions today, the walls are thin, you can sneeze in one room and get a “gezundheit” from the next room. While your family may be used to this, guests may not be, so setting out earplugs to help company sleep in without hearing your beloved elephant march in the form of lively children will be appreciated. Even in a basement where guests are somewhat separate, sleeping under all the footsteps, jumping and running might be louder than you realize. (As someone with kids who wake up ready to party before 6 a.m. our guests—whether on LA time or local time—probably would have appreciated these.)
Anyone can get thirsty at any time, and as comfortable as someone may be with their accommodations, in an unfamiliar house they may prefer the easy access of a water bottle left by their bed to wandering around in the dark. The same holds true for snacks, but that is a decision every family has to make about where they want their guests eating around the house.
Along with guest towels, consider putting out a washcloth and bar of soap, as well as shampoo and conditioner, so that guests have everything accessible and don’t need to go hunting for toiletries late at night when hosts may already be sleeping. Of course, there is no way to anticipate specific shampoo needs. There may be a different type for each guest, but anything is better than nothing after a road trip, airplane ride or three-day Yom Tov.
If guests are from out of town and are staying for more than just a Shabbat or Yom Tov, including a list of local attractions at various price points is always helpful. Local parks, amusement parks, museums, historical sites, factory tours and even pottery places can fill time while family visits. Restaurants and supermarkets, especially kosher stores, or supermarkets with a large selection of kosher foods, are also a helpful addition to local lists. Sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner seems pretty realistic.
Guests may need some reading material, so before you relegate magazines to the recycling bin hold on to them for extra entertainment. Of course, The Jewish Link of New Jersey is part of every complete hostess basket or guest survival kit, and often has local entertainment and activities included in every issue, in addition to coupons.
For minyan-goers, a list of local shuls and davening times will help them plan their days. Obviously, The Jewish Link has it all, and contains said list in every issue.
With today’s wired world, guests of all ages need extra spots to plug in and charge their devices. Our plan was to buy a surge protector strip, but a guest (really a sister, so not a guest after all) bought a surge protector for the digital age. In addition to extra outlets, it has ports for a USB cord. Everyone enjoyed this technology-friendly addition.
An alarm clock and reading light are also useful, especially for basement accommodations that may have limited light, making it more difficult for houseguests to figure out the time.
The hosting season approaches, and any of these tips should help make guests more comfortable during their stay. I’m sure my sleepover guests hope I refer back to this list as well, and we can’t wait for everyone to visit.
By Jenny Gans