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I absolutely love entertaining and having guests in my home. From dinner parties to birthday get-togethers, I count down the days until my guests arrive. When I was younger, my momma knew how to throw a great event and was even better at hosting overnight guests in our home. What can I say? I took notes and learned from the best.

Whether our parents are visiting, we’re throwing a spontaneous backyard BBQ or we’re hosting a reunion with old friends, I always like to do as much as possible to make them feel at home. It’s all about the little touches and details! Even if you don’t live in the South, there are ways to bring that charm into any event or occasion. Here are my top eight suggestions for mastering Southern hospitality:

1. Shop prior.

Do your guests have any food allergies you need to be aware of? Does your father-in-law love to have a certain type of coffee with a newspaper in the morning? Ask your guests before they come if they would like anything that would make them feel more at home. Shop ahead and have it there when they arrive.

Sun-dried cherries, $5 a bag, at The Pantry

Do you have a guest arriving who has dietary restrictions or perhaps an affinity for very specific types of foods? Shop prior to their arrival and have their favorite flavors on hand.

2. Clean, clean, clean.

Nothing is worse than staying at someone’s house that has less than standard cleaning habits. Plus, I consider it rude. When expecting guests, keeping your space in tip-top shape is a sign of respect! If you are on a time crunch and don’t have time for a deep clean, hire a service. You’ll find numerous options for trusted and affordable cleaning services in most major cities.

3. Provide a guest info sheet.

Include your address, home/cell numbers, WiFi username/password and any other information your guests may need to know (like that tricky remote control with 100 buttons). It’s also an option to email this information ahead of time.

4. Stock the essentials.

I always like to keep extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, face wash, disposable razors, etc. for my guests, just in case anyone forgets anything. It’s always a relief when they don’t have to worry about running out to grab something they forgot to pack.

Keep a well-stocked supply of toiletries on-hand in case your guests forget something.

Keep a well-stocked supply of toiletries on hand in case your guests forget something. Image:

5. Keep them on the schedule.

Let your guests know what time you normally get up and going, and definitely warn them if they should be ready for your kids to be running around early. If you have work events or some other prior commitment, let them know ahead of time so they can expect to have their own time to explore. It’s always a good idea to offer ideas or even schedule some activities if they desire to go that route.

6. Offer bedside bottle service.

Keep bottled or filtered water in the guest room(s). This may seem like common sense, but it’s often forgotten. Also, adding a chilled bottle can feel like a godsend after a long day of traveling!

7. Add a touch of floral.

Flowers are always the perfect finishing touch for any occasion … but especially for guests in your home. Not only are they a beautiful decoration piece, but also a timeless gesture that shows you honor their presence. I always love roses by the bedside!

Fresh flowers on the bedside table are a refreshing and welcoming touch for guests.

Fresh flowers on the bedside table are a refreshing and welcoming touch for guests.

8. Freshen up!

Nothing says “home away from home” like the feeling of fresh, soft sheets. Before guests arrive, spray the pillows and bedsheets with a nice linen spray. Anything with eucalyptus, lavender or vanilla has a calming effect and will make your guests feel perfectly pampered!

Spritz linens and pillows with a fresh scent to create a lovely guest room retreat.

Spritz linens and pillows with a fresh scent to create a lovely guest room retreat.

More than anything, when you welcome guests into your home, put distractions aside and truly engage in these treasured times. THAT is the essence of Southern hospitality!

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