Sharing your Home Overnight!

Summers and holidays are busy times for entertaining out of town guests!
My friend Barb has guests coming and going all year long. My husband and I experienced true hospitality when we stayed with Barb and her family a few years ago in Wisconsin. I can tell you that we had the best food (yummy lamb!), conversation, night’s sleep, and we can’t wait to go back!
Her family went out of their way to make us feel warm and welcome.
I won’t even tell you how cozy the bed was … And Carlos was outside to greet us every morning. Along with Barb’s sheep and lambs. (Read how my Balcony Girls were able to name Mini May!)
Here’s Barb’s story …
In wanting to have a hospitable home when we married, it seemed natural that a truly open home would occasionally mean overnight guests. Over the years in our family, these guests have ranged from relatives and old friends to ministry associates to total strangers. Overnight guests can be a little more intimidating to host. Issues of food, cleanliness and time management all come into play in a larger way than when hosting for a singular meal. Early on, I decided to consider what I would want if I were staying in my home:
–A clean place to lay my head at night. I do work to make sure a guest room/area and its nearby bathroom are well dusted and scrubbed for our guests.  This doesn’t mean fancy though–it means clean. I remember one well-traveled friend complaining about hotels that don’t wash sheets between guests, and I realized how simple our needs and desires really are. The sheets aren’t 400 count sateen? They don’t even match? Oh well. They’re clean.
What matters most are warm and inviting hosts!
–Food on the table at meal times. Again, a simple need. I would never expect escargot or prime rib. Recently, when hosting college choir students, the weekend got away from me and I decided to order pizza delivered to our home. At dinner, I apologetically told the students we were going low key, with national chain pizza, and they were thrilled. They loved it and said it was the best thing we could have served them! At breakfast the next morning, I intended to offer at least some homemade fare, but forgot with all the other things I had to accomplish.
Our adult kids shared a variety of cereals with the students, and they were fine with it. They expressed great appreciation to us in detail when they left.
It doesn’t take much to fill a tummy, and it isn’t hard to come up with palatable meals in our culture.
–Some space and social comfort. Not being a big social animal, I need a little alone time everyday. Tell me where the TV and books or magazines are (or board and electronic games for youthful guests), and feel free to go about your family business when necessary. Let me know when you need me, and I’ll be up or available. Just give me a little maintenance information, and I’ll take care of myself! When I am with you, please let me help if you’re feeling pressed. And don’t worry about maintaining conversation with me. If we run out of discussion topics, give me a task to do or go about your business and I’ll go read or stitch.
This is your home and I would never want you feeling uncomfortable in it just because I’m here.
In our home, we have tried to designate one room as a “guest room.” However, that room isn’t always sizeable enough, and recently it was otherwise occupied on two occasions when I would have preferred to use it for company. Instead, one of our kids gave up her room for a relative, choosing to sleep on an air mattress in the basement so the relative could have her bed. On the other occasion, the larger group of guests slept in the basement, where a TV and several games are located. Rather spartan, unglamorous accommodations, with only the air mattress and some sleeping bags, but our guests stayed happily occupied long after we headed for bed, and slept quite well once they finally hit the hay themselves!
Again, simple but clean, in a positive and safe environment.
Sharing our home with overnight guests has been well worth it over the years. Our kids have learned to sacrifice for individuals they haven’t always even met before. They’ve also become comfortable themselves with hosting when they’re most vulnerable–early in the morning, half-awake and feeling owly! Sometimes too our kids have been pleasantly surprised, when the guests that they thought were going to be so boring or frumpy turned out to be anything but.
We’ve learned more about ourselves and our strengths and weaknesses, more about daily life in other parts of the country and world, learned the latest on various aspects of the Christian culture, and found commonality with people we’d never met before they showed up at our door.
In sharing our home overnight, we’ve provided safe and inexpensive haven for individuals in need of a temporary place to stay. 
We’ve encouraged others and been encouraged ourselves. And we’ve gotten to know many people who are touched that we would be willing to open our home to them, in a culture where open homes–and lives–aren’t so common anymore!
Do you enjoy out of town guests?
Do you have a special guest room?
Do you enjoy cooking for them, or can it be a burden if they stay too long?

17 comments on “Sharing your Home Overnight!”

  1. Your visit to Barb's place remiminded me of a B&B we visited many years ago in Leavenworth WA. I think? it was called The Farm? though I am fuzzy on that.
    We had a wonderful time. So wonderful in fact that we extended our visit from 1 night to 3. (thankfully the owner was able to accomodate).
    The great room had a huge stone fireplace, the stones hand gathered by the owners. Such a wonderful bunch of guests, too. My husband played 18 holes with a new friend/guest there.
    My son had never seen real live chickens, and the hostess invited him to gather eggs with her for our breakfast. He was enthralled.
    I know this was a B&B, but we really felt like we were in the home of a close friend.
    Our hostess was always available to share stories about how the farm was built, to chit chat with guests, and though I don't exactly remember the breakfasts, I do remember them being very good, and served at a big table with lively conversation. How a simple country breakfast turns into a 2 hour gab fest with strangers is beyond me, but it was wonderful. Our son was only 5, and the only child there. He was the hit of the party. We 'ran into' a guest/new friend in town, and ended up wandering/shopping all day together. She spoiled my son rotten!!!
    Amazingly, we stayed in touch through the years. I live in WA, she lives in upstate NewYork. We've never gotten together again in person, but talk occasionally and write letters. Now it's e-mail more than letters. She sent my son a gift certificate to an Auto Supply store as a high school graduation gift, knowing he was getting a "new to him" truck for graduation.
    I realize this is WAAAY off topic, but I just had to share.
    I/We truly felt at home.
    I often have overnight college students, but it's never a planned thing. Just kind of late, bring out pillows and blankets, and they crash on the floor. Since I have a teeny tiny house, I often step over and between sleeping bodies in the morning to get my coffee fix. I don't serve breakfast either, though I do set out cereal, fruit and everyone knows where the toaster is.
    I love your casual entertaining style.
    I don't entertain adults very often, why is that?

  2. This is timely because we have guests coming in a few weeks and we won't even get our furniture for our new house until the middle of next week. I was stressing about having everything put away and ready for guests but they're coming to see us…not our stuff! I think if I'm relaxed, they're more likely to feel comfortable and at home.

  3. My husband and I enjoy having out-of-town guests. My family all live in another state, so we frequently have people over for extended visits. I find that I get a bit exhausted after four or five days. Anything longer than that, I tend to run out of hostess-steam.

  4. We are actually having my 89 year old Grandmother come to live with us. I think that counts as an overnight guest! It's been A LOT of work getting ready for her, but she's worth it. :-) We are all excited for her to be part of a real family again, she's been alone for so long.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Sandy, this touched me. I actually posted something in my blog about the Best Strawberry Bread that you posted a while back, I tried the recipe and love it. I hope I haven't done the wrong thing by not asking you first, it dawned on me maybe I should've. Hope you don't mind me telling you after I've posted it. Come and have a lookie.

  6. Recently moved, right on the shore of Lake Michigan so we have had tons of overnight guests. We're lucky enough to have plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for all.I love the bonding that naturally occurs when everyone is under one roof.

  7. We love, love, love overnight guests! It seems like right now it's usually family but next week we'll welcome a teenager into our house for a few weeks. That's the longest stay we've ever had….we don't really have a guest room and so the kids (and sometimes even us get shuffled around!)

    our home always feels more cozy when we welcome others into it.

    Thanks for a great post!

  8. We enjoy out of town guests, but it causes us to be a bit more creative. We don't have a specific guest room, and until just very recently our children had loft beds requiring a ladder climb to reach the top.

    We have utilized air mattresses, sleeping bags and when we had our tent trailer even set that up in our driveway for guests to have their own area.

    This post was a good reminder and encouragement that it's not about what we have to offer… but that we offer. Thanks!

  9. For the first time ever I recently shared my home for a dear friend who came to stay overnight. I surely hope that she felt comfortable and wonderful. I tried.

  10. We have 4 kids and recently hosted a family with 4 kids in our basement. I stocked the basement bar area with blueberry muffins, yogurt parfaits, cereals, milk and OJ. They ate when they felt like it and cleaned up their own mess. It was easier on all of us!!!! We took our other meals together upstairs. I also typed up a little schedule for them so they weren't sitting around wondering "what's next"? They had errands to run and it helped them to know what to expect and how to plan. We had a lovely time.

  11. This would be a great topics for near future. How to make a cozy bed and also about homemaking on the cleaning front.

    So glad everyone had a great time!

    WAHM of four
    [email protected]

  12. Old photos are a wonderful idea, Jackie!!!

  13. Thanks for the fun post. Because we live a distance from family and friends, we do have overnight guests at our home often. One little thing I like to do is find a magazine or book that reflects what my guests like and have it available by their bedside. It was always a fun thing to "shop the library" for books on art, decorating or various hobbies that I knew they liked. Our guests always enjoyed this surprise. Some guests enjoy a partially worked puzzle that they can complete. Take time to think about them before they arrive and add something personal to the room if you can. (such as some old pictures of them) Just have fun as you think of them and they will notice. Smiles….Jackie

  14. Ah – yes, this past week I experienced hospitality from the simple to the grand…all wonderfully warm and inviting (and one stay that definitely was not..should I make a blog post of it? ;)

  15. Yes! we do enjoy having overnight guests. This post is very timely.
    This past weekend my dear friend and her family visited our home. There are nine in their family and we had a marvelous time. They have several dietary issues in their family and we were able to accomodate them, too.
    We had delicious conversations along with good food.
    It was an enjoyable time for all of us.
    Sandy — thanks for encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone. Your blog is a blessing to me.

  16. Loved this post.
    Within the last year we finished a little "cottage" in our backyard. It houses my parents who visit between Nov.- March but since then we've had other friends stay in it and next week I am meeting a new blogging friend and her family who are going to stay in it. It's just a one room little cottage with a bathroom and a little kitchenette but it's clean and cozy and it gives them their own space.
    I also love to cook for them if they allow it. I know some people don't want to put us out but I have to cook for my family anyway so it's fun to have the company as well. It's been a real blessing having that to offer and I can't wait to see who sleeps in there next.
    Hugs to you.

  17. I had to laugh…
    We have had out of town guests 5 out of the 6 weeks on summer…so YES I do!

    It's crazy…loud…but it's worth it…

    My favorite time is when you have a house full of guests…one week over 10 people. I get up early and make breakfast with a simple "spread"…they all come rolling in and different times…I love it!

    It makes life sweeter!
    sandy toe

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