I've Got The Key To Free Babysitting! Want To Know What It Is?

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OF COURSE you want the key to free babysitting. Gone are the days of $5/hour babysitting from the teenager across the street. That kid is making BANK now! I actually had an outing recently where the babysitting "bill" was larger than our outing "bill". Ouch! 

So, how to still manage adult time away from the tinies while maintaining a semblance of a budget? Overnight guests. Yes, those family members who don't visit very often (and don't get to see ALL the charms of your children in person). Or friends from college. Anyone who would enjoy spending a night with you in your home AND could wrangle a kiddo or two. Let's face it, they're asleep most of the time, right?

There are several ways to make your home inviting to these guests, and I want you to give them your best shot, so here they are for you to take advantage. 'Cause we're close like that.

Make your home inviting to guests: bed and bedding

Obviously, this is consideration numero uno when it comes to overnight guests. It's safe to say we're all past our couch surfing days. Make your guest feel welcome with their own bed or even a pull-out. I've got a day bed that pulls out into a king sized bed. Great, because it takes up nearly no room when there are no guests and doubles as a sofa. Sweet! Remember, the better the bed, the more likely you'll have return visitors (MORE DATES!)

Also, put a little effort into your linens. You don't need to spend hundreds on sheets, but a nice, fresh set with no holes or mystery stains is a must. Keep them separate from the everyday linens if you have to. It makes a difference.

Final bedding touches include a couple pillows (of different fill type and density) and cozy throws or blankets if it gets chilly. It's better to have access to all these things than to spend a night miserable as a result of not having them.

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Make your home inviting to guests: grown up food

If your pantry is anything like mine, you have a fine array of cheerios, cheese sticks, juice boxes and Pirate Booty to choose from. And, while this is snacking heaven for children, adults don't get that same tingly feeling about them.  With this in mind, make a special treat basket/box/what-have-you with some adult snacks for your guest.

Cheese and crackers are fine, but a little more than your mozzarella cheese stick variety. Throw in some fresh fruit and a beverage and voila! You've got a carpet picnic fit for royalty.

The reason I say to put it in a fancy container is to encourage them to eat it. I don't know about you, but I've never taken anyone up on the "you're welcome to anything in the fridge" offer. Who knows if that salami you're eating is the ONLY kind Uncle Jimmy can eat and now he's hungry. Nah. Skip it. Make it clear it's for. them. It goes a long way towards making them feel appreciated.

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Make your home inviting to guests: big people entertainment

Now we get to the heart of it. The majority of the time your overnight guest spends at home while you're out the little people will (please, please, oh please) be sleeping. So make that time fun for your guest! 

Again, in another bundle, put aside some magazines you think they may like. Or, if you know them well enough, a book you thought they'd particularly enjoy. Other options include setting up the TV for Netflix (why does every set up have to be different and non-sensical to non-techies??). Even more old-school? Bring out the DVDs. Most people have a pretty good shot at working that.

No matter what, write down the Wi-Fi password! I like to buy a 3"x5" frame and frame the password in a cute script. It's easier to find and looks fancy on their nightstand.

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Make your home inviting to guests: thank you gesture

Now think hard on this one. Because I can't tell you what this should across the board look like. The key to this gesture (and it is probably THE most important gesture) is that it's personalized for the person who's facilitated this evening out.

Chocoholic on your hands? Bring them a dessert from the restaurant you eat at. Are they visiting for a while? Get them a voucher to a cinema near you. Let THEM enjoy a night out. Make sure the kiddos don't run laps outside their door in the morning and bring them a hot breakfast!

The point is: make a significant gesture. A thoughtful gesture. They just let you have a worry-free night on your own and saved you a TON of money. They're worth it.

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I have to admit, all this talking about spoiling guests is making me want to visit MY friends and family. And there's a very good reason for that. I take my hostess inspiration from my mama. She has the most welcoming set up when we visit. There's always a crossword puzzle book, some local articles she thinks I'll like (Royals, baby!) and the fridge is stocked with my favorites from my younger days. She's got new activities to try in the area. She ALWAYS kicks my husband and me out for dates or takes the kiddos to an early IHOP breakfast so that we can sleep in. In short, she thinks of everything! And I hope that my guests feel half as welcome as my mom makes her guests feel. Thanks, Mom, for setting such a great example.

If you are looking for unique ways to decorate your guest room, I've got some great resources for you! Add some boho coziness with these tips or clean Scandi influences with these. And I'm always around for help if you get stuck :)