It always seems like a good idea at the time, issuing that invitation to old friends, or even the whole family, to come and stay during the summer holidays. You look forward to it for weeks... and then the reality kicks in.
There's the easy but tedious stuff of course - making sure you've got clean sheets and towels ready, dusting the bedroom, cleaning the bathroom - but what about those little details that make a stay memorable for them (and bearable for you)?
Get the basics right
A quick wipe down of the bathroom and kitchen surfaces and a run round with the hoover are fine, but it doesn't take much more to add a really professional polish to your home.
There's nothing like the dazzling gleam of taps and a showerhead cleaned with Viakal, and go the extra mile with some good beeswax furniture cleaner for any wood in the house. It'll make the place smell amazing too...
Take care of the practicalities
Sometimes the hardest thing about having guests - for them and you - is constantly being asked or having to ask where things are and how to use them. For example: what is the wifi password? Where is the coffee kept? How does the shower work? Where's the nearest chemist?
Have a think about these in advance, and put an unobtrusive note in the bedroom with all the relevant information. Even better, set up a little space for the kettle, cafetière, mugs, teabags, biscuits and so on, so if your guests are early risers or just tea fiends, they can help themselves without worrying about bothering you.
In the bathroom, make sure the toilet paper, any painkillers (well out of reach of children), toiletries and sanitary products are easy to find. And in the bedroom, make sure there's a reading lamp and some extra blankets.
Also think about any particular preparations for the kids - is there a games room they can access, and is everything dangerous safely out of the way? Can you make their sleeping space any more fun with paper leaves to create a jungle hideaway?
Avoid awkward mealtimes
Check in advance whether there are any particular food requirements or allergies among your guests, so they never have to have an awkward moment at the dinner table.
It's also a good idea to casually establish which meals you'll be eating together - will they be going out on their own during the day or spending the whole time with you? Do you have bits and pieces they can help themselves to for lunch? Is breakfast a help-yourself affair or a cooked feast?
Add memorable details
From burning scented candles just before they arrive to putting lavender bags in their drawers or closets, scent is one of the most evocative ways to make their visit memorable.
Other lovely touches include leaving a pile of well-chosen books on the bedside table, ready for a curious reader (although don't leave anything you might not want them to take with you!); a few jam jars scattered around with wild flowers in them; or some fresh house slippers in the bedroom.
For the children, it's a good idea to set up an activity for when they arrive to get them used to the place, and burn off any post-journey energy. A treasure hunt or some board games are great options.
What are your best tips for entertaining house guests? Share your ideas in the comments box below.