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With the addition of a few niceties, your spare bedroom will be as inviting to visitors as a fine hotel room. Set out essentials such as towels and an alarm clock, then provide little luxuries as well: bottles of water, foil-wrapped chocolates, and a few cut blooms in a vase.
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Towels with a Special Touch
Keep sets of guest towels together, bound with twill tape or ribbon. When visitors arrive, just transfer a stack from linen closet to guest bedroom.
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Chilled Bottle Service
Give your overnight guests the five-star treatment by setting chilled spring water on their nightstand. Choose a vessel, such as a vase or a large julep cup, that is deep enough to accommodate a small bottle and ice. Place a saucer underneath to collect the condensation and protect the surface of the table.
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In a strange room, comfort and space are more soothing than a clutter of unfamiliar things. On a bedside table, place a single flower bloom in a simple glass, a nice clock, and a selection of books suited to your guests' tastes.
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Space permitting, set up a comfortable chair or settee with a pillow and throw, an adjacent table, and a good adjustable-brightness lamp in the room your guests will be staying in. Assemble a small personal library, including some magazines and a daily newspaper (useful for local listings like concerts). A radio for morning news and quiet evening listening is a thoughtful addition; you might also include a portable CD player with a selection of music.
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Closets and Drawers
Make sure there is adequate closet and drawer space. Supply a variety of hangers -- at least a dozen good wooden or metal ones -- that will hold trousers and jackets, flimsy dresses, and heavy coats. And make certain there is a full-length mirror.
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Outfit the Bed
Make up a double bed with four ample sleeping pillows -- two medium or firm, and two soft -- as well as two smaller pillows to prop up the head when reading. Use cotton or linen sheets, starched and ironed for hotel crispness. Provide both light and heavy blankets, as well as a lightweight throw for afternoon naps.
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Provide a small desk or a cleared tabletop, and stock it with pens and paper, note cards, envelopes, and stamps. Compile a list of some favorite local places -- restaurants, cafes, museums, antiques shops, movie theaters -- and provide timetables, if appropriate, for buses, ferries, or trains. A telephone in the room is a convenience, but not a necessity.
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Give houseguests five-star treatment by setting out individual hand towels -- actually, fancy paper dinner napkins -- in the bathroom. Dressy napkins can be found at party-goods stores and at supermarkets. Tie a stack of them with ribbon in a merry color, and place it in a decorative tray, such as a large ceramic soap dish.
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Color-Coded Guest Towels
Sew loops of colorful twill tape (in a variety of shades) onto the corners of a look-alike batch of bathroom or beach towels to help guests distinguish theirs from everyone else's. That way, when your house fills up with visitors, everyone can keep track of his or her own -- and no one will have to get up close and personal with someone else's dirty laundry.
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Bedside Water Glass
You don't need carafes and matching tumblers to provide overnight guests with water. Simply fill a tall, narrow glass, and cover it with a shorter, wider tumbler to keep out dust. Set the glasses on a small tray on the nightstand to catch any drips. Houseguests can flip over the top glass and pour themselves water or sip directly from the taller glass.
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Your house is only as clean as the soles of your shoes. And do you really need a more compelling reason than that to declare your home a socks-only zone immediately? To get family members and visitors to fall into step, try the "seed" method for getting guests to take off their shoes. Plant a few of your own pairs next to a basket of slippers by the door and hope they notice it and take the hint. Keep a few pairs of different size slippers (some more unisex than others) on hand to offer your guests. Or use humor and download one of our signs to get the point across.Click to get our signs.
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Guests may be baffled by the nuances of your stereo, climate-control, and burglar-alarm systems. Provide them with a handy guide to using your keypads and remote controls: Type or write instructions, and collect them in a convenient book like the ring binder shown here. Mark sections with tabs for each piece of equipment.
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Food and Drink
Consider your guests' food preferences: If one is a vegetarian, or allergic to fish or dairy products, be sure your menus include options and that your pantry and refrigerator are appropriately stocked. Show guests where to find snacks, drinking glasses, and utensils, and encourage them to help themselves.
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Have homemade cocktail mixers for Bloody Marys, cranberry cocktails, and apricot-ginger fizzes on hand to make serving drinks easier. Decant them into decorative bottles, available at home stores, and add a label with drink recipes and storage instructions. They'll keep for up to a week and must be refrigerated, so plan ahead.Get the Recipes
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