By Laura Lucy
When you live near the beach, your home can become a hot destination for friends and family. Summer is prime time to head to the Emerald Coast, especially if you have a free place to stay. The good news for us is that we get to live in paradise all year and enjoy the beauty. The bad news is we have jobs and responsibilities that don’t go away just because our guests are on vacation. So how do you balance real life while hosting people on holiday?
Taking a little extra time before your guests arrive will save you much more time and headaches later. Ask them a week before check-in what their preferences are for beverages and food, including any allergies. That should give you plenty of time to go grocery shopping during off-peak hours. Having easy-to-grab foods, like fresh fruit and individually-bagged snacks, in plain sight on the counter will make your visitors feel welcome and saves you from constantly having to prepare something.
Make a meal plan for the week. Last-minute trips to the grocery store or hours spent in the kitchen will take away from quality time with your guests. Keep meals simple, like grilled proteins with salad and watermelon or s’mores for dessert. What could be easier or more delicious than that?
Leave a note with your WIFI password on their nightstand. Include any other must-have information such as your house security code, neighborhood gate code and pool entry code. Give them a few restaurant and entertainment suggestions and connect them with a few local websites and apps that list events and more. Some of our favorites are the calendar at www.OntheCoastMag.com (obviously) and the 30A app.
Be sure your guest bathroom is fully stocked with shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, towels, wash cloths, toothpaste, floss, extra toilet paper, tissues and bandages. Bonus points if you provide your guests with sunscreen and aloe. Our non-Floridian friends might not properly apply sunscreen or remember to apply it on cloudy days and end up with a sunburn.
Anticipating their needs may also prevent texts and calls to you during work hours.
Before your guests arrive, spell out what your schedule and commitments look like during their stay. If you must be in the office all day every day, they need to know that. Don’t promise what you cannot deliver.
I am very fortunate that my husband and I both work from home and have flexible schedules. That doesn’t mean we get to completely put work on hold when friends come to stay with us. Our guest room doubles as my husband’s office, so we always hope our visitors are early risers. And I’ve been known to escape to Panera, the library or some other quiet corner with WIFI when I really need to crank out some work.
Setting boundaries for work time and work space will allow you to do what you need to do while preventing your guests from feeling like they are overstaying their welcome.
Make Time and Have Fun
Yes, your friends and family are thankful to you for the free accommodations, but chances are they really want to spend time with you too. Do your best to free up some time to be with them. Maybe you can’t take several vacation days while they are in town, but you might be able to slip out of work a little early a few days or take a long lunch.
Guests will often want to repay you for your hospitality by treating you. Don’t argue with them. Just graciously say thank you. You might have the opportunity to eat at a new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try or play tourist with a game of miniature golf or bust out of an escape room.
Let your kids stay up past their bedtime and forget any food rules you usually enforce (other than those for allergies, of course). My favorite memories from the first half of this summer are of my daughter playing with the children of my best friend and my husband’s best friend – night swims in the pool, walking on the beach with glow sticks late at night, eating ice cream whenever. With no siblings or even first cousins, my daughter is often stuck in the company of adults. The opportunity for her to bond with the offspring of some of my favorite people in the world is priceless.
You don’t have to put a mint on their pillows and provide turndown service (although, my sister-in-law does this at her house and it is fabulous) to make your guest feel welcome. Quality time and a relaxed environment are the best things you can offer your guests. Do that for all of your visitors and you’ll have to start using a booking system for reservations by next summer!