As you’re reading this, we are hosting Home Exchange guests in our home for three weeks. Some people  kindly refer to us as a “bed and breakfast” because we have so many overnight guests (and now exchange guests) pass through our hallways – and we love it.

Despite a smaller home, we do our best to make room for all of the invited guests in the home exchange. Anyone who needs a pillow to rest their read for the night has one!  We feel like making our home a haven for all who enter is part of our family values. It’s what makes us the Hulsey’s!

Yes, it’s a bit exhausting to have extra people within your walls, and yes, it does provide more work – for a time. But really, we truly love exchanging our home. It is a nice break fromt he hum-drum, typical vacation. More it makes travel more affordable, more convenient, and more educational. It’s fabulous.

Hosting guests doesn’t have to be a pain – it can be something you look forward to.

Here are ways you can help home exchange guests feel more at home:

1. Be yourself. Truly. Most house guests aren’t expecting an immaculate house, and if they are, there’s no point in loading your shoulders with the pressure to try.

2. Let your guests be themselves. Really mean it when you say, “make yourself at home.” If you’re willing to have guests live in your home, be willing to let them put their feet up on your coffee table. This is within reason, of course – don’t let manipulative people treat you like a doormat.  Store any valuables or untouchables in a private place like an attic or a storage rental.

3. Provide extra toiletries. We have a basket of basic essentials that we bring out for overnighters, and we leave it on the guest bathroom counter for them to help themselves. It’s nothing fancy – just toothpaste, soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, and unopened toothbrushes. I stock up on some of these items when they’re on sale, and this is also a great use for those travel-sized freebies from hotels.

4. Make things easy to find. When they first arrive, have all their needed towels either out on the bathroom counter, or on their bed or night stand. Leave out some basic breakfast goodies for them to help themselves. Don’t forget the dishes and silverware, too.

If they arrive after a long trip, put a little basket of refreshments on their night stand. A simple bottle of water, a package of nuts, maybe a banana, and a little welcome note can really make them feel welcome.

5. Keep coffee and tea on hand. Even if you don’t drink it, a coffee drinker is always thankful to have the means to make a cup of joe in the morning. It doesn’t have to be anything high-end if you don’t drink it, but make sure it’s fresh.

6. Create some simple extra touches to make your guests feel welcomed and attended to. Place an inexpensive flower in a small vase on their night stand. Provide a great-smelling candle and a book of matches.  Make sure there’s an alarm clock available, too.

7.  Provide reading material. Collect a few magazines and put them in an easy-to-reach basket near their bed or in the bathroom. I prefer to leave local magazines or ones that offer cultural insight. Maybe even select a good book of short stories (short stories are good, so that guests can actually finish what they’re reading, as opposed to a long novel).  If there’s something you’ve really wanted your house guest to read, now’s a great time to oh-so subtly leave it on the night stand, waiting to be read.

8. Depending on the reason for their visit, you may want to provide information about where you live. If they’re in town on vacation, provide some brochures about tourist spots, a map, and maybe something unique about where you live for them to enjoy while they’re in town – a book from a local author, a travel guide, or a CD from a local musician. I made a “HOW TO GUIDE FOR OUR HOME” that included emergency information, restaurant suggestions, appliance directions, plant watering requests, etc.

9. Let them help around the house. Don’t put them to work, of course, people are  more relaxed and feel less like an intruder if you say yes to their inevitable question, “Can I do anything?” Let them do something small like water the kitchen plants or take out the trash.

Do you like having guests in your home? What’s the hardest part about it?  Please, share your hosting tips that work well for you.