Dear Kathi,

I have dear friends coming into town for the holidays and they will stay with us into the first week of January. I am feeling a bit apprehensive about how to plan for all of the dinners and outings. I have to work almost every day that they are here and won’t be able to spend as much time with them as I would like. I want to make sure they have a good time even though I can’t be with them except in the evenings. Any suggestions on ways to plan for their visit ahead of time?

Sue, Carmel Valley


For starters, realize that you can’t be their tour guide during their whole stay. They are grown up and certainly will recognize your limitations as a hostess because of your work schedule.

An easy and thoughtful thing to do for them is to create a day-trip binder. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce, or better yet, head to the airport or nearby car rental office to pick up tourist brochures and publications about area events and attractions. Put all of these brochures into clear pockets or hole-punch them and group them in similar categories in a three-ring binder to provide many interesting activities for them to explore on their own while you are busy at work.

You can also earmark a few favorites on your Internet for more things to do in San Diego. Two of the more interesting websites are, which shows virtual tours of various county locations to explore, and http/www., sponsored by the Convention Visitors Bureau.

Provision your guest room with nice bedding and cushy pillows to help your guests sleep better. A reading lamp and a few magazines by the bed will help them acclimate to the guestroom. One elegant hostess I was lucky to be a guest of placed a decanter of liqueur, a crystal liqueur glass, and a small covered cut glass bowl of nuts on an embroidered cloth lined silver tray on the bedside table. If your guests don’t drink alcohol, a decanter of water with a small glass will also provide a thoughtful touch.

A nightlight in the hallway and bathroom will help them find their way in the dark of the night.

On the first night of their visit, prepare a meal so that you can all sit together and catch up on each other’s lives. This will start their trip off on a good note and will relieve you from other formal meals during their stay. If there is no time to prepare a full meal, have a small appetizer set up and then take them out to dinner that evening.

Prepare a few casserole dishes in advance if time permits and stow them in your freezer. You can leave instructions for heating with a family member. This way you will have a few painless dinners taken care of for your guests.

Buy bagels, cereals, jams, juices and eggs and let them know they can sample anything they wish from your fridge throughout the day. If they are late risers put a pot of coffee on for them as you leave for work. For the midday meal they can surely make do on their own.

Make your guests feel extra special! With a guest basket they will know how much you have looked forward to their visit and how much you appreciate them.

FOR YOUR GUEST BASKET: Shampoo Crème Rinse (or shampoo/conditioner combo) Toothbrush Toothpaste Dental Floss Comb Deodorant Bath Gel or Shower Wash Bottle of Water Fingernail Clippers Lint Brush Sewing Kit Small perfume/cologne samples Additional Provisions: Towel Washcloth Bathrobe

Have fun with your guests and don’t worry about them when you are at work. They will appreciate your efforts to make them comfortable. Treat yourself to a relaxed visit with them during your off hours. Have fun playing like a tourist or guide in your own town. Enjoy!

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