* What aspect of your home or apartment do you enjoy most: the view, the quiet, the yard? Let that aspect be the focus of you hospitality. Share the aspects of your life that bring you the most pleasure.
* Have a little bit of fun with the idea of giving guests and family the royal treatment. Make a little crown out of gold paper and carry it in along with a breakfast-in-bed tray, or use it to designate a guest of honor at a family meal.
* Piles of pillows are a relatively inexpensive way to add a luxuriously hospitable touch to any room. It's a good idea to provide several different kinds of pillows- firm, soft and at least one hypoallergenic-so that guests can sleep on one that feels familiar. Big, square European pillows are nice for reading in bed.
* One of the big hits in our guest bathroom is a big, fluffy terry robe hanging on the back of the bathroom door. If you love that touch in fancy hotels, why not invest in it for your own home?
* Save the complimentary bottles of shampoo and lotion, the little sewing kits, and shoeshine cloths you receive in nice hotels (or buy from the "travel-size" rack in a drugstore). Include a toothbrush and toothpaste. Tuck into a little basket and tie with a ribbon for you guest bathroom.
* Other extras that will be appreciated: a travel iron and small ironing board, a hair dryer, a lint brush, notepaper and pens, literature on local attractions. Why not treat you guests to a disposable camera, too?
* Basics can make a big difference to the experience of hospitality. Is there plenty of toilet paper in the bathroom your guests will use? Are there extra towels?
* Try putting an overnight guest in your child's room for the night and give your child the "privilege" of camping out in the living room. The result: an adventure for your child and welcome privacy for your guest.
* If your guest is an old friend, pull out a picture of the two of you together, tuck it into an antique frame, and place it on the bedside table.
* Even if guests elect to stay in a nearby motel, you can extend hospitality with a few special touches. Have a floral arrangement sent to their room. Or leave a basket of homemade muffins at the desk for their arrival.
* It's a thoughtful gesture to ask in advance about your guests' needs: allergies, physical limitations, or other special circumstances. The most beautiful home can lose its welcoming ambience if vegetarians are served meat, allergic people are obligated to sleep with the cat, or guest with arthritic needs must climb stairs three times a day.
* When other people extend hospitality to you, don't forget the thank them! A heartfelt not or a little gift will let your hosts know how much you appreciate them. And a return invitation should be not an obligation, but a joy.
from Emilie Barnes' "Welcome Home"
"But every house where Love abides
And Friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home, sweet home;
For there the heart can rest."
~ Henry Van Dyke