Simple sofa surf

Carol O’Callaghan gives sound advice for expectant hosts gearing up for the season of overnight stays.

IT’S time to fluff up the house and start preparing for Christmas guests, especially those staying for a couple of days.

If it’s a friend who mucks in and participates in the routine of the house, then you probably can’t wait for that extra pair of hands to arrive. But maybe you’re not feeling quite as warm about the in-law whose hiatus hernia is guaranteed to flare up after your cooking.

Guests mean extra work on top of shopping and decorating but if you’ve ever spent Christmas with family members or friends, you know how important it is to feel welcome in someone else’s home.

Keep it simple. Just make sure you have fresh bed linens, extra pillows and blankets, and give the guest room a good vacuuming and airing. Do place a lamp with a bright bulb beside the bed so your guest can read comfortably and then switch the light off with ease.

You’d be amazed how many stumbles can result from guests trying to manoeuvre their way in the dark from a light switch to the bed when they’re unfamiliar with the layout of the room and maybe have imbibed too much Christmas cheer.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got a dedicated guest room and are cringing at the thought of putting a guest in a room dominated by Spiderman décor. A new duvet set will make a huge difference as will clearing out a drawer and putting some extra hangers in the wardrobe. If hanging space is a problem try a hook on the back of the door to hold a garment bag.

Also put a chair in the room: you may not think it necessary for a short stay but some people don’t like sitting on the bed to tie shoelaces, fearing they’ll squash a feathery eiderdown.

A chair is also a handy place to drape clothes or it can be used to perch a suitcase so guests don’t have to kneel on the floor to unpack. Take the same approach if your playroom or home office is temporarily providing guest accommodation.

If an extra bed is required, now might be the time to invest in a very handy sofa bed. It’s more practical than a fold-up bed or a blow-up mattress which require storage space when not in use.

If all is needed is a single bed, consider a stool bed which looks like an ottoman with a pull-out bed beneath its lid. When not in use, it reverts to being a footstool/ ottoman.

Do let your guests know where spare towels and loo rolls are kept so they’re not caught out at a delicate moment. Then again you could ensure your fluffy towels aren’t commandeered by a grubby teenager by folding some neatly on the guest bed with a mini soap and boxed shower hat saved from a hotel stay.

For a little decorative touch place a cushion on the bed propped against the pillows, and a pile of magazines and books on the bedside table.

Add a selection of snacks and a water carafe and glass which will delight guests who are prone to an attack of the midnight munchies, or who might wish to counteract the effects of that extra tipple of sherry.

¦ Next week we’re shopping for Christmas gifts for the home.

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