life in a tiny apartment.

October 19, 2015

house guests tiny apartment reading my tea leaves

Tip #133: Preparing for Overnight Guests

A few years ago I wrote a post about giving yourself permission to say no when it comes to hosting overnight guests. Then I wrote about making an exception for far-flung best friends ducking into New York for the night. And now I’m writing a third addendum for those occassions when “it’s just too small” just doesn’t cut it.

The truth is the sometimes your sister is coming into town and you find yourself nodding on the other end of the phone and saying, “Yes, of course, you can stay with us. It’ll be fun! A sleepover! We have camping air mattresses! Don’t bring anything!”

This past weekend we were six to this tiny apartment. And it was cozy.

In case you find yourself experiencing a similar predicament, here are six things we did to prepare. 

1. Do laundry first. As in most small spaces, there’s a limit to the things that we keep in multiples around here. Two sets of sheets, yes. Four towels. But on a given week it’s likely that half of that is crammed into the hamper waiting for a schlep down to the laundromat. We made sure to wash everything ahead of time so that at the least we weren’t asking house guests to share bathroom towels. (Even if they tried to insist.)

2. Clean the toilet.  Wipe down the bathroom mirror. Do a thorough vacuum.  A good house cleaning is probably on most people’s lists of things to do pre-guest, regardless of the size of your space, but I find that tidying less obvious spots help keep the relative peace even more than the grand sweep. Clean out the fridge. Throw the shower curtain in the wash. Clean off the soap dish. Swap out your gummy, scummy dish brush. 

3. Stock up on essentials. Coffee and milk and bread for toasting and butter for spreading. Cheese and crackers for staving off hunger-induced flare-ups pre-dinner. If you’re the type (and we are) wine aplenty.

4. Designate a space for the stuff. The hardest part about welcoming guests into a tiny apartment isn’t the number of humans, it’s the stuff they tote with them. The suitcases. The teddy bears. The extra trio of picture books. For our part, we made a space under the couch for stashing bags. And our guests backpacks are neatly lined up underneath the couch instead. Admittedly, it is my sister visiting, so it will surprise no one that there’s not an excess of stuff to stow, but three extra backpacks is three extra backpacks and it’s nice to have a spot for them. We also cleared off a few hangers in the closet for coats and moved a crate into the hallway so that the pile of shoes wouldn’t trip our neighbors on their way down the stairs. 

5. Pack up the bedding in the morning. This is the most annoying and most essential tip, in my humble opinion. Trying to serve dinner, let alone breakfast, let alone making it through getting dressed in the morning, is challenging enough in a small apartment without every inch of extra floorspace being taken over by a bed. So, arduous though it sounds, deflate the air mattress, fold up the blankets, and tuck everything away until after dinner.

6. Treat yourself while you’re treating others. Buy the nice beer. Stock your freezer with ice cream. Go the few extra blocks for the good bagels. And schedule a double date-night. Hire the world’s best babysitter for the kiddos. Take a cab to the restaurant to maximize your time at the table. And, maybe, splurge on the cocktail(s). 

(7. Install HotelTonight on your phone. Turns out sleeping on camping mats on a hardwood floor with a toddler between you is, indeed, less than ideal.)

Tiny Apartment Survival Tips #1 – 132, RIGHT HERE.

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  • Reply Melanie October 19, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Oh yes!! I am constantly in this position in my tiny studio condo! My best friend lives in California and my husband’s best friend lives in Arizona…therefore we always have overnight guests. My place is small and we only have a red Ikea couch for them to sleep on. I’m going to take your tips to heart because seriously I could use the advice! =) Thank you!

    Melanie | Toots & Dilll

  • Reply Abby October 19, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Oooh – I hadn’t heard of HotelTonight before now, but I have many people coming to visit, so I can already tell that it’ll come in handy!

    Otherwise, I’m in total agreement with all the other tips. A place for everything, including the stuff that isn’t yours. 🙂

  • Reply Barbara October 19, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Great tips! I’m having guests for Christmas so I will keep these in mind!

  • Reply Cynthia October 20, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    When we’ve had to bust out the airbed to make a third guest room, instead of putting it away everyday so we can use the room (it’s our den), I simply heave-ho the thing onto MY bed. I can close my bedroom door so we don’t have to see the ugly and then when it’s bedtime again, I simply return it to its user.

  • Reply Mary Kate October 21, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Great tips! The last time we had an overnight guest I debated leaving the air mattress inflated, but yeah it’s just not worth it. I’d add, make sure you have plenty of out-of-apartment activities planned so you’re not sitting around crowded in your tiny space for longer than necessary 🙂

  • Reply Rae October 22, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Aww, I love this! So helpful for those in tiny space. I like that you gave advice both to make things easier on your guests and yourself.

  • Reply Elaine August 27, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    what make bag is that in your picture?

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