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Houseguest Survival Kit


We’ve all enjoyed the little samples of shampoo, lotion and facial soap found in tidy bundles on a hotel counter. Perhaps you’ve stayed at someone’s house and been pleasantly warmed by a thoughtful robe and slippers left at the foot of the bed.

I remember my mother and I attending a series of meetings at a church several hours from home when I was about 9. We knew no one, but my mother quickly became engrossed in conversation with the folks there. It grew late, and unexpectedly, the pastor’s wife insisted we stay with them at their home. I felt quite embarrassed that we had no clothing or toiletries and were unexpected guests. I still remember that this amazing hostess had not only toiletries  for unexpected guests, she also had a drawer of pajamas in various sizes and several varying sizes and types of pillows on the bed.

Since we married, I’ve striven to provide the type of place where anyone could stay at any time, for any reason – and on the spur of the moment. Granted, I don’t have a closet full of clothes or a collection of slippers waiting for guests (yet!) – but I have thought quite a bit on the houseguest survival kit. I collected a few favorite ideas:

  • A collection of local area maps and attractions tailored to a variety of guest’s personalities: the breweries, the hiking trails, the book shops, the historical points of interest, the couture shopping
  • An extra key – giving you both more freedom and less distracting coordination of who’s where when
  • Especially if you live in a busy city, a list of details the locals all know like what subway stop to avoid, where the cheapest gas station can be found, restaurants to avoid or seek out
  • Don’t forget basic niceties like a Kleenex box, a few magazines or books, a fluffy robe, a bottle of lotion
  • Err on the side of too many details: a small fan for white noise, extra blankets/pillows, a small heater, fresh flowers (if you’re sure they’re not allergic!), light-blocking curtains, a bed-side carafe of water, a burning candle, an empty drawer or closet space, a place to sit and a place to store the luggage, extra hangers, an iron and small ironing board, a hairdryer, even a personal 1-cup coffee maker….
  • In the bathroom, an assortment of (unopened, personal size) mouthwash, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, body spray/wash, sponges and cotton swabs
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