Living Smart: Be prepared for overnight holiday guests

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Entertaining company can be full of the unexpected. Your niece became a vegetarian. Scented laundry detergent irritates your momís skin. Since when? You can minimize stress and make your holiday guests feel more at home with some simple planning.

Before donning the holiday host hat, use this checklist to get your house in tiptop shape.

Clean the house.

If you donít have time for a deep clean, focus on the areas visitors will see and use. If no one has used the guest room since last year, thereís a chance a thick layer of dust has settled on surfaces.

Light it up.

Check for burnt out bulbs, especially on the homeís exterior. Consider some night-lights or touch-lights in the hallway. Sure, you can navigate your home in total darkness, but your guests canít.

Make it welcoming.

Throw out the welcome mat. Place a coatrack near the door or make sure thereís room in a nearby closet.

Check the guest bedroom.

Does the bedding need to be spruced? Alarm clock need to be set to the right time? Putting a fabric softener sheet in the pillowcases helps freshen them up quickly before company arrives.

Put extra blankets at the foot of the bed. Consider leaving some towels on the bed so your guests donít have to search for them.

Check the guest bathroom.

Stock up on toiletries. If you usually keep the toilet paper in a cabinet, consider filling a basket with a few rolls.

Stack towels and washcloths somewhere visible. Place a basket on the countertop for your guestsí bathroom supplies.

Anticipate needs.

Ask your guests if they have any dietary restrictions so you can be sure to buy goodies suitable for everyone.

Satiate caffeine cravings.

There are few things worse than being the first person awake at someoneís home and not knowing where they keep the coffee. Create a coffee station with everything your guests will need: filters, grounds or beans, mugs, spoons and sugar.

If you can set your machine on a timer, program it to make a fresh pot early in the morning, or at least get it to the point where all your company has to do is press start.

Provide reading material.

Place a variety of books and magazines on the guest room nightstand.

Create a to-do list.

Make a list of interesting sights, restaurants, bars and coffee shops, so your guests can get the local experience.

Donít forget to provide a key and the alarm code if your visitors will be venturing off on their own.

Perform final touches.

This is your opportunity to make things pretty. Pull out the decorations. Cut some fresh flowers to place in vases. Leave snacks or mints on the end table.

Donít forget the grand tour.

Take this time to show the guests the coffee station, supplies in the bathroom, and where you keep your dishes and snacks. These steps will ensure your guests feel comfortable in your home.