entertaining tips from American Hovel Magazine

American Hovel Magazine, April 2007 cover A few months ago, I shared the news that our home was featured on the cover of American Hovel Magazine‘s April edition, following our interview with that magazine earlier this year. Well, readers were so impressed by the chaotic state of our home that AHM has asked me to write some features myself as a guest author. Here is a draft of the article I’m working on, inspired by having recently had guests staying overnight.

Preparing for Overnight Guests, an American Hovel Magazine feature by guest writer alejna

When you know that guests will be staying over, it always helps to be prepared. If you have a guest room, or believe that you may have one lying around somewhere, it is a good start to find and prep this room. Here are some steps to follow to accomplish this goal.

  • Step 1: Find the guest room
    The first step is to locate and identify your own guest room. A guest room is a room in your house that may or may not have a door. Often, this room will be the place that you have found convenient to set aside items for “temporary” storage: boxes of clothing to be packed up or donated, piles of books and papers, small items of furniture or sundry toys that your child may have outgrown, odds and ends of obsolete technology, mysterious cables, miscellaneous repair or creative projects in various stages of completion, seasonal decor items given to you by your mother-in-law, holiday presents sent by various out-of-state relatives, holiday presents you never got around to mailing to various out-of-state relatives, and/or out-of-state relatives that you forgot were visiting. (Actual contents of guest rooms may vary.)
  • Step 2: find the sleeping surface
    Guest rooms typically feature some sort of bed or convertible sofa-type piece of furniture that allows your guests to sleep in relative comfort. (Many guests find that kitchen floors, front lawns or bathtubs are not terribly comfortable as sleeping arrangements. However, in a pinch, these will do. Make sure to offer a blanket or tarp.) You are likely to find that the bed (or other sleeping surface) can be found under the largest pile of items listed in Step 1.
  • Step 3: clear the bed or other sleeping surface
    Once you have identified the bed (or other sleeping surface, hereafter called simply, “the Bed”), it is time to undertake the most challenging task: “clearing” the Bed. This daunting task may take many hours, and will most likely be attempted when the arrival of your guests is imminent. Be prepared by having ready the proper tools for the job: rakes, shovels, forklifts and hard liquor. You may also find it helpful to have a phone nearby, so that you may call a sympathetic friend or relative to help ease the emotional burden of the task.

    One of the seemingly impossible aspects of “clearing” the Bed is to find places to put those items that have so long been inhabiting the Bed space. The ideal way to deal with this is to carefully sort through all the items, give away or discard those items that are no longer in use, and find appropriate permanent storage solutions for the rest. You will not have the time or energy for the ideal way, because your guests are almost here, and if you could so easily deal with things in the ideal way, you wouldn’t be reading this magazine, because you are neat and organized and you have in the past been likened to Martha Stewart. You will instead need to follow the more expedient method: move the items from the Bed to other spaces around the house that your guests will not see. Suggestions include: your own bedroom, office, car, back yard (depending on the season), neighbor’s yard, or if you have more than one bathroom, in a bathtub or shower.

  • Step 4: Prepare the Bed
    You will find that many guests will expect to find some sort of bed linens in place on the Bed, and that further, the expectation is that such linens will be clean. However, few guests will actually ask if the bed linens are fresh. Therefore, if time is short, and the sheets are not visibly soiled by any previous guests or nesting animals, you may find that a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy is helpful.¹
  • That is all for this installment of hints for preparing for overnight guests. There are other preparation considerations that may be helpful, however, I believe that your own guests are now pulling into your driveway anyhow, so you will just have to wing it this time.


    ¹ For those guests who may have recently visited my own home: I put clean sheets on the bed. Seriously.

    10 thoughts on “entertaining tips from American Hovel Magazine

    1. These are excellent tips that I should pass on to a friend of ours who many years ago told us she had “plenty of room” in her shared Manhattan apartment for JP and I to stay. By “plenty of room”, she meant that JP would be able to sleep on 2 loveseat cushions pushed together on the kitchen floor (only to slowly separate throughout the evening leaving his mid section directly on the floor) and for me to share her futon with her. Dude. This is also the same friend who during sleepovers at her house as a child, she told me no sleeping bag was needed since there was somewhere I could sleep…which later turned out to be a papsan chair.

    2. After reading Step 1, I thought about it a little and realized that the “unpacked boxes from last year’s move room” might, in fact, be a guest room! Door…check! Potential sleeping surface…check! Thanks for alerting me to the treasure that seems to have been hiding next to the bathroom this whole time.

    3. KC-
      Hmmm…your hostess sounds like she may have her own theories on overnight guest accommodation. I wonder if she has written any articles?

      Yes, it does sound like you may indeed have a guest room. I’m glad I was able to help you identify it.

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