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     Getting Ready for Guests

Besides cups of spiced eggnog, late-night office parties, and kisses under the mistletoe, for many of us, the holiday season also brings…guests. This is especially true if you live in a sought-after destination like our San Francisco. But whether the thought of friends and family camping out on your sofa bed triggers excitement or dread (or maybe a bit of both), I have three simple-to-follow suggestions guaranteed to make the whole experience an easy one for you, and a special one for them.
Prepare in advance

For many of us, hosting guests can be stressful. But in part, that’s because we’re rushing around at the last minute trying to clean up our home, or fill the fridge moments before they arrive, or worse…after they arrive. If it seems like you’re always scrambling when it’s time to entertain out-of-towners, then make a list of what needs to be done, and work on it a day or two before they roll into town.
Become a hotel

One of the easiest ways to prepare for hosting guests is to imagine your home as a hotel or bed-and-breakfast—because that’s what it will be for your guests. While you don’t need to strive for four-star service, consider the amenities that hotels keep in guest rooms, and you’ll have an idea of what to prepare for a “guest kit.”
Take care of the basics first

Make sure your home is stocked with easy-to-grab snacks and small water bottles so that your guests can take them on their way out. Gather together linens such as towels, washcloths, and sheets, along with fresh bars of soap or shower gel, and have them ready for your guests when they arrive. Put the ironing board, iron, and spray water bottle in an easily accessible location, and show your guests where to find it. Most travelers come complete with cell phone (and charger), so point them in the direction of the power outlet. Think about the basics that you’d want or need, and prepare the same for your guests.
Think of yourself as a concierge

Many people feel that they need to be a tour guide, chauffer, and chef to their guests. Instead of running your guests around (and yourself ragged), give them options and let them decide what to do. Imagine yourself as a concierge—a gateway to services and entertainment—rather than as a tour guide. Get a good tour book of San Francisco, along with copies of current issues of local weekly magazines, and your guests can choose from among the multitude of things to do, places to see, and cuisines to enjoy. If you know that your guests have special interests or needs, make a few notes of attractions, events, or restaurants that they might like, and add them to the entertainment package. Make sure to obtain a new Muni map, the phone numbers to cab companies, and give these to your guests along with the rest of the bundle.

This holiday season, give yourself a gift—the gift of a stress-free hosting experience. Not only will you actually be able to enjoy their company instead of running last minute errands, or having to put your life on hold giving tours of the city, but your guests will have one of their most memorable stays in San Francisco, and will count your attention to their needs as a wonderful part of that experience!


Joshua Zerkel, Productivity Strategist, is a Certified Professional Organizer and the founder of Custom Living Solutions, the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier productivity and organizing consulting firm. Josh is also the 2008-2010 President of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

Josh specializes in helping entrepreneurs and small businesses find easy ways to get control of their space, information, time, and technology so they can reduce stress and boost their productivity. Josh has been featured in various media, including CBS News, ABC News, the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Organize Magazine, Online Organizing, and many others, is a regular columnist on the Franklin Covey website, and co-hosts the “Thrive Solutions” radio show on Thrive in Balance.

Josh is also a popular organizing instructor in the San Francisco business community, speaking to small and large companies about the different techniques they can use to optimize efficiency and productivity in their work environment so they can serve more clients and make more money. Although he doesn’t consider himself freakishly organized, Josh does admit to spending some of his free time alphabetizing his comic books and fixing the tags on his MP3 collection.

For more of Josh’s practical (and sometimes pithy!) organizing tips, sign up for the Custom Living Solutions newsletter at www.customlivingsolutions.com or call 415-830-6345.

Connect with Josh on:

Facebook: http://companies.to/customlivingsolutions

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuazerkel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joshuazerkel

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