Twenty Tips for Making Overnight Guests Feel Welcome in Your Home

Over the past several months, our guest room has gotten a lot of use. When a friend asked if I minded having so many visitors, I didn’t hesitate when I told her that it’s a privilege to welcome people to our home. Luke 12:48 says that much is expected from whom much is blessed. We are blessed to have an extra bedroom and anyone who has stayed with us knows that we go out of our way to make it (and our guests) comfortable. What people don’t know is why.

Why did we decorate the guest room with Bill’s mother’s old Christmas decorations before his aunt came to visit last December?

Why did I set a tray of freshly baked cookies and bottled water on the bed the last time a friend stayed the night?

And what prompted us to develop dozens of pictures of friends and family members so we will have the perfect snapshot to frame and place on the nightstand the next time one of them is scheduled to spend the night?

If my youngest daughter had to answer the last question, she’d say that it makes us look like stalkers; but I am less concerned with making an impression than I am with making a difference. Since our move to Illinois we have traveled to Nebraska on many occasions and, like the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:20, we know what it’s like to be in want and what’s it’s like to have plenty when we stop somewhere to spend the night. My goal is to use that knowledge to anticipate what would make visitors feel welcome and affirm their importance to our family.

If you would like to send the same message to your guests, here are twenty ways to make them feel especially welcome in your home:

  1. When visitors are arriving late, think beyond the porch light by placing a mint on their pillows and turning a lamp on low in their bedroom.
  2. Have a nightlight in the hallway so guests can find their way to the kitchen or bathroom after everyone goes to bed.
  3. Place a tray on the bed with a plate of cookies and a card to welcome them to your home.
  4. Save your wireless password to a text file on a clearly marked flash drive so high-tech friends and family members can access your network from their laptop or smartphone.
  5. Store a cable guide by the television if your guest room has one so visitors can easily locate their favorite channels.
  6. Purchase a brochure holder from an office supply store and use it to hold information about local tourist attractions.
  7. Keep a photo album of past visitors checking out local tourist attractions so new guests will have an idea of what attractions they might want to see while they are in town.
  8. Add flowers to surface areas and artwork on the walls to give guests something beautiful to look at.
  9. Place a notepad and pen on the nightstand so people can capture late night thoughts.
  10. Empty the drawers of a dresser and place extra hangers in the closet so people can use them if they are staying for more than one night.
  11. Provide a luggage rack , bench or other flat surface so guests won’t have to bend down when opening their suitcase.
  12. Store extra blankets and pillows where guests can easily find them.
  13. Place a fresh roll of toilette paper on the dispenser and a second one within easy reach so guests won’t run out during their stay.
  14. Set box(es) of tissues, disposable hand towels, and travel-sized toiletries where visitors will find them.
  15. If you subscribe to magazines, store recent copies in your guest room for visitors to peruse.
  16. Keep your iron and ironing board in the guest room closet so visitors will have access to them.
  17. Place a full length mirror where visitors can use it and keep a spare blow dryer under the sink.
  18. Store extra blankets, towels and washcloths so they will be easy to find.
  19. Hang two matching robes in the closet for guests to use during their stay.
  20. If your guest room is drafty in the winter, consider putting a space heater in the corner of the guest room and an electric blanket on the bed.

Photos illustrating many of the suggestions listed above can be found on but before you view them, remember that implementing even one is pointless if no one stays in your home. Good things don’t always come to those who wait: Sometimes you have to make an effort by extending an invitation and trusting that the people who take you up on your offer will be the ones God has given you the privilege to serve.

 From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. – Luke 12:48b

Using Smart Albums in iPhoto to Keep Track of Your Best Photos

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to change up the way you do things, especially when it comes to organizing your digital photos. It’s a time to keep doing what works and ditch what doesn’t. What works for me is organizing pictures by event and adding the year, month and day they were taken to the title of each folder. If I have two events in one day (like a program at school during the day  and a birthday party that night), I place them in separate folders and include “01” after the date of the first and “02” after the date of the second activity to make sure that the folders show up in the proper order (see example below).

Photos Organized by Year and Event

What also works is periodically backing up these folders to DVDs that I give to Bill to take to work. This ensures that, in the event of a fire, our pictures are not lost forever.

What hasn’t been working is having to search through every folder at the end of the year to find the pictures that I would like to include in our annual Christmas Card and end of year slideshow. In search of a solution that would make the most of software I already have, I read up on how to use iPhoto Smart Albums and created one called 2013 Best Photos. I then added parameters so the album only contains pictures from 2013 events that I gave a 5-star rating (see article titled How To Create Essential Smart Albums for Your iPhoto Library at

To test my new process, I imported a photo from our camera and gave it a five-star rating. The picture appeared in the new smart album and my photo-taking year is off to a great start, proving that Continuous Process Improvement is not just for companies: It’s for anyone who is up for the challenge of putting every system to the test until the good is better and the better is best!