Right about this time of year is when the requests start flowing in. Family and friends make plans to stay with you for the holidays, and before you know it, your place is totally booked until 2015. As stressful as it can be, playing hostess is a pretty special job. You don't just want them to have a good experience though — you want them to have a fabulous one that rivals the vibe of the Ritz. Ahead, check out tips on how to go that extra mile and win the "best host ever" award. Just be warned that once the word gets out, you may have even more visitors knocking at your door!
- Come up with a solid preplan: Hosting starts before your guests even arrive! Stock your fridge with snacks they'll enjoy, buy their favorite bottle of wine, ask if they have any allergies to scents or fabrics, and make reservations at your favorite restaurant before it's booked up. Don't forget to give them detailed directions on how to get to your place if you can't pick them up.
- Impress 'em with the details: Whether they're staying in a guest bedroom or on an air mattress, treat the experience as if your grandma were staying with you. Provide clean linens, extra towels, hangers, and essential toiletries. Even more importantly: write down the WiFi password. Another tip is to set aside some space where they can store all their stuff.
- Play concierge: If they want to explore while you're at work, come up with a plan they can follow on their own. Share your favorite restaurants, give them a calendar of events, tell them about all the local attractions — and don't forget a weather report!
- Make them feel at home: Take steps to make them feel welcome, always. Give them enough privacy, and never act like they're imposing (even if they are). Be happy when they're around, and even if something bothers you (like their belongings start taking over your living room), keep in mind that the visit will come to an end sooner than you realize. Especially with foreign guests, understand that their cultures and habits may be different than what you're used to, and that's totally OK.
Above all, enjoy the time you have with your visitors, because it may just be a once-a-year event!