Don't have a spare bedroom? Invest in an inflatable air mattress. Look for models with thicker padded tops (like the AeroBed Premier Cushioned Comfort, from $150, aerobed.com), or cover the bed with a mattress pad to provide a layer of cushioning and protect from punctures.
For an even simpler solution, get a feather bed (like the Pacific Coast Baffle Box Feather Bed, $120 for full, pacificcoast.com). "It can be rolled up tight for easy storage, and the extra layer of cushioning makes the couch―or the floor―that much more comfortable," says Meryl Starr, author of The Home Organizing Workbook: Clearing Your Clutter, Step by Step.
You can also store a spare mattress under your bed (if space allows) and slide it out when guests arrive.
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There's no need to share your pricey salon shampoo. The next time you're staying at a hotel or a resort, remember to take away the small toiletry bottles. The sample sizes are perfect for guests.
Or stock up on travel-size toiletries on your next trip to the drugstore or at minimus.biz, a website devoted to mini products, including toiletries. A new bar of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a razor, and body lotion should cover anyone's basic needs.
To keep track of towels and washcloths, provide a different color for each guest so everyone can always identify his own. When the guests drive away, wash and store the towels (along with sheets, a light cotton blanket, and a heavier comforter for cold nights) until the next visitors arrive.
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Clear Some Closet Space
While most out-of-towners expect to be living out of a suitcase, guests will feel more at home if they can unpack the essentials. Also, providing them with a place to unpack means they'll be less likely to drape clothes all over the spare bedroom or living room. A garment rack ($35, containerstore.com) provides extra hanging space. You can also use it to hang damp clothes in the laundry room or as a coat rack at your next party.
A suitcase stand ($40, containerstore.com) makes the case more accessible than it would be on the floor, so guests will be more likely to keep their stuff in order. If you have a spare bedroom, store linens, towels, and other items reserved for guests in one or two dresser drawers. When you make the bed for guests and set out the towels, you'll immediately have two empty drawers for their clothing.
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Offer Maps and Magazines
You want to entertain your guests, but you don't have time. (That, or you just can't handle the local marina's "Sharks!" attraction one more time.) But you can point them in the right direction. First, provide street, bus, and subway maps so they'll know how to get around. For activity ideas, start with the entertainment or About Town section of the local paper, says Stacy DeBroff, coauthor of Mom Central: The Ultimate Family Organizer. Guests can check out play, movie, or concert listings, as well as those for other local events. (See Online Entertainment Resources for Visitors for more ideas.)
Also, offer guests local magazines for inspiration, plus other magazines and books, so they'll have something to flip through before bedtime. With paperbacks you finished years ago, write "Please take me home" on them, says DeBroff. "Guests start reading and may want to finish them."
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Print Out Emergency Numbers and Instructions
Provide houseguests with emergency-contact information and general phone numbers, as well as any other essential details about the house and the neighborhood, in case you're not there to explain that the hot water runs out after 20 minutes.