Be My Guest

Some people celebrate the Fourth of July in patriotic duty. Some celebrate with grilled meat and beer. And some folks celebrate the holiday by setting fires and blowing stuff up.

(Me, I try to keep the high explosives to a minimum.)

Instead, I traditionally celebrate the holiday with my two dearest friends, in a joyous long weekend of shopping, tourism, non-stop chatter, and a knockout lunch at the Frick Cafe.

My first best friend from the Beginning of Time (well, first grade, believe it or not!) comes to visit me every year over the Fourth. And I never cease to appreciate how extraordinarily lucky I am that she and my other best friend who lives here in Pittsburgh get along so well. I imagine in another few years, we’ll believe we ALL went to first grade together. That is how lucky I am.

Anyway, this year there is an extra-special reason for celebration, because this visiting friend has also recently gotten married! (YAY! Woo-hoo! Congratulations!) So in addition to the normal guest preparations, I wanted to do something a little special for her and her new husband.

One big gift to her husband is not making him come along to endure this particular weekend; while this fellow is very kind and indulgent, I can only imagine having to hang out with us three chatty females would undoubtedly feel like a Chick Lit Holiday in Hell for him.

The ACTUAL gift , however, will be in a posting I’ll share with you after my friend’s visit. (I don’t want to ruin the surprise for her, you understand.)

What I will share with you today, however, are some of my favorite tips for guest preparation.

The Towel Basket. Have you ever been to visit someone and have NO idea what towels you’re allowed to use? Or how many you’re allowed to use?

Well, I try to avoid my guests having to deal with that, by designating particular towels, readily available, just for them. They’re different than my normal towels—these are floral-printed and match both the guest room and my bathroom. And I try to make sure there are plenty of them that the guests can use at-will…

…And not worry whether they’ll have to go all Oliver on me and ask, “Please, mum, may I some more?”

The basket itself was just one from the Family Dollar that I sprayed white. I used to leave it in the guest room, but I’ve found it’s less confusing to put it in a designated spot in the bathroom. In this case, on the matching pink table shown here.

The Guest Tray. I made this little guest tray as a way to welcome my visitors to the house, and help them feel more at-home. (You can read how it was done by clicking here.)

I leave it on the guest bed, so it’s easily visible. And I load it with various goodies that a person might enjoy but hesitate to ask for during a visit. So this includes some bottled water, a decanter and cup, a dish of the guest’s favorite sweets, and some nibbles.

Hanging Space. Guests shouldn’t have to live out of their bags, so with closet space in my Victorian home at a premium, I’ve got this little hanger on the back of my spare room door, allowing them to hang up a few key items.

It was made out of three old glass doorknobs, a pine board, some decorative molding and some white paint. I added the satin hangers as a special touch. They were about $0.79 at the thrift store.

Pillows Aplenty. Just like potential for the Great Towel Shortage, some places you go--hotels included--just don’t seem to have enough pillows or blankets. Well, this is not an issue here at Waterhouse. If anything, there may be TOO many.

Decorative pillows, shammed pillows, regular pillows-- choose and put aside whatever you don’t want. Same with blankets. I’d really rather guests have too much of what they need than not enough.

Allergy Awareness. I have a number of friends with serious food allergies. And I think one of the really important points of being a good hostess is not having your guests DIE during their visit.

I feel strongly about that.

So when planning meals, I always like to verify in advance what my guest can, and cannot eat-- likes and dislikes, too. It makes for a better visit all around-- no surprises!

And what’s on tap for next week? I’ll show you the special decorations, table settings and other preparations from my Fourth of July Weekend Extravaganza Brou-Ha-Ha! Then it will be safe to let the secrets out!

Oh, and if I’m a little bit late in posting, forgive me; there will definitely be a feature, I’m just not sure how it will shake out time-wise with getting my friend to the airport, etc.

Have a bang-up Fourth of July, everyone!