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Hosting and the Sound Barrier

We live in a log home and the acoustics are amazing! I don’t mean that in a good way. There’s no insulation, so if you’re in one of the bedrooms you can literally hear everything going on in the other bedrooms. We discovered this shortly after we moved into the cabin and our nephew came for a visit. He went out to see some of his other (inferior) relatives and when he came back we were already in bed. My husband woke up in the middle of the night, turned to me and said, “I wonder if Daniel’s back yet.” In a strictly conversational tone my nephew said, “Yeah. I’m here,” from the guest bedroom below. Needless to say we are glad this happened sooner rather than later after moving into our new home.

As you can imagine, this could lead to some embarrassing situations…what with bodily functions, arguments, making nasty comments about your guests, and such. We try to mitigate these potential situations in a number of ways. First, we let all overnight guests know we can hear EVERYTHING! Then we let them know again. Believe me, I have no interest in hearing anything a guest doesn’t want me to hear. Bathroom fans are also great noise blockers. A couple of our recurring guests bring sound machines. Gee, that would make a nice hostess gift (hint!)

But what happens if these tactics don’t work and you hear something you’d rather not? I think we’ve all been there. Like most things, it depends on the situation. If it’s early in whatever proceedings are proceeding, I make an innocuous noise to make the presence of my ears known. Like a coughing spasm or a show tune. This lets the noise maker know the sound barrier is nil and to adjust accordingly. It also leaves some doubt as to what might have been heard, preventing embarrassment on both sides.

If the throat clearing or second verse of “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria,” doesn’t do the trick, I remove myself from earshot. Again, I don’t want to hear anything someone doesn’t want me to hear. When I get a chance, I reiterate the problem acoustics to the guest.

If none of this is possible, and it’s getting really awkward—like a nasty argument—I might actually knock on the door with an excuse such as , “Need more towels? How ‘bout a referee?”

There will be situations where none of these approaches work and you just have to stick it out. If you know the person well, I would say something when you get the chance to avoid a repeat performance. But if nothing is to be gained from notification, I just keep it to myself. There’s no point in both of you being embarrassed.

Thank you for visiting and as always, I’d love to hear from you.

Kiki answers questions…What should you have on hand for guests?

Kiki answers questions…What should you have on hand for guests?

Today’s question is prompted by an anonymous follower who says, “I’d love to hear more factual tips and tricks to hosting.”

First of all a disclaimer, I don’t claim anything on this blog is “factual” except for the address. When I do use “facts” from subject experts they are referenced, usually with a link for more information. In these days of Fake News, Alternate Facts, and Optics (whatever that means) I want to be painfully honest about the material I am disseminating.

With that said, how about some tips on Guest Accoutrements? Or Stuff to Have on Hand for House Guests. This does not include food. That’s for another post.

When my husband and I first set up housekeeping in our “garbage level” apartment, guests were lucky to get a spot on the floor and directions to McDonalds. Strangely enough we still had A LOT of company. Must have been the cable. As we matured, along with our guests, we were able to offer better accommodations.

For beginners, remember you are doing someone a favor. There is no need to go crazy with a bunch of stuff you don’t normally keep on hand and will never use again. At a minimum, you need to offer a place to sleep that is as quiet and private as you can provide along with clean linens and towels. If you cannot provide these basic things, you should let the guest know in advance so they can make arrangements. For instance they may need to bring a sleeping bag or their own pillow, and that’s OK. You should also leave a note on paper with your address, phone number, and—if you trust this guest—you internet access code.

Once you get more established (and have accumulated freebies from enough hotels) there are things you can add to that list. Here’s what Adele from Arkansas suggests:

“Provide a place for their suitcase, some empty horizontal space for them to set out their things, an empty drawer and some empty closet space with hangers, an empty small basket or two.  Provide shampoo, conditioner, blow dryer, toothpaste.  Have a few feminine products available just in case.  Be prepared to provide just about anything—in case their luggage didn’t make it– hair brush, deodorant, new toothbrush (I always have plenty from my trips to the dentist). Have a lined and covered trash container in the bathroom (so that your dog does not get into their trash).  Put a container of water and a couple of glasses in their room.  Have a throw blanket handy.  Be sure to ask if there is anything that they need.  Make sure there is a variety of bed pillows – some folks like firm, some like soft and some need an extra pillow for their knees.  If possible provide a place to sit and read in their room for when they need some peace and quiet.  Provide a radio that is easy to turn on, change channel and set alarm.  And, very important, provide some kind of night light so that they can safely find their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.”

Whew. She’s good!

For the advanced host, I would add to that list: noise machine; flashlight; and brochures from local attractions.

If Adele and I have forgotten anything please let me know in the Comments section below.

Thank you for visiting and I’ll be back on Wednesday with House Guests and Graduations.


Relax now! How to give your host some downtime.

Relax now! How to give your host some downtime.

This past weekend we were invited to the vacation home of friends in the Blue Ridge Mountains. On Saturday we went for a hike and while scrambling down a fairly steep and rocky path, a voice said, “Now close your eyes.” What!? Then our hostess said, “Damn, that’s my meditation app!” I can see the headlines now, Woman Falls to Her Death While Being Coerced to Meditate on Steep Mountain Trail; Lawsuit Being Considered. When the app continued to nag at her our hostess said, “Boy, she really wants me to meditate.” Our hostess explained that she gets so busy she has to be reminded to relax.

This lovely woman (cheekbones to die for) and her husband have extremely demanding jobs and all the social obligations that come with such jobs. They purchased this weekend home for the express purpose of getting away together and chilling out. This visit to their beautiful weekend home gave me the perfect opportunity to invoke one of my Best Practices for House Guests, Give Your Host Downtime and Privacy. “But Kiki,” you might say, “if they invited us don’t they want to spend time with us?” Yes, they do, but not every minute. No one is that interesting. I have had guests that attach themselves to my hip and quite literally stood at my counter and stared at me while I was trying to prepare a meal. No, go away.

There’s a fine line between giving your hosts downtime and ignoring them. Here are some ideas:

  • In the morning, unless you’re on a schedule, linger in your room a little longer than you might normally at home.
  • Take a walk.
  • Bring lots of reading materials. If you’re tucked in to a novel, it gives your host the option to start a conversation…or not.
  • If you knit or crochet, bring it with you. For your host, your project is both an opportunity for down time or a conversation starter.
  • You can also fall back on one of my family favorites, take a nap. Naps are the new black.
  • Offer (do not insist) to do the dishes and suggest your host relax with a cup of coffee.
  • Television is an option but it is the host’s prerogative, not the guest’s. Televised sporting events create chances for folks to wander off for a spell and do their own thing.
  • Be careful about spending too much time on your phone as it can give the impression that you prefer the company of people who are NOT there.


I have one frequent house guest who does daily yoga and invites her hosts to participate…or not. I would refrain from relaxation apps because you might fall down a mountain and that would NOT be relaxing for your host.

If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them. The Comments Section is below.

Thank you for visiting.


Photo courtesy of



Best practices for houseguesters.

Best practices for houseguesters.

Everyone has their own sensibilities, and no one can read minds. These two elements of human nature can set you up for uncomfortable situations when it comes to houseguests. Here are some best practices that apply to just about anyone…I think. I sincerely welcome your remarks and additions. Leave a comment below or send me an email at

For the Host

  • Your ultimate responsibility is to the safety and wellbeing of the family and household you have created. This doesn’t mean you can’t be gracious.
  • Be mindful of your guest’s resources.
  • Give your guest downtime and respect their privacy.
  • Be interested and be interesting.
  • Be appreciative that your houseguest values your company enough to stay in your home.
  • If you are not enjoying the visit, fake it!


For the Houseguest

  • Show up.
  • Respect your host’s schedule and resources.
  • If you are staying more than two nights, provide a meal.
  • Give your host downtime and privacy.
  • Offer, but do not insist, on helping with household chores such as meal prep and clean up.
  • Don’t offer unsolicited decorating or cooking advice.
  • Be interested and be interesting.
  • Be openly appreciative.
  • No whining unless it comes in a bottle.
  • If you’re not enjoying the visit, fake it!


In my next posts, I’ll go into more detail about these best practices and will have other topics as well including; host/hostess gifts, houseguesting with children, houseguesting with pets, meals/food, what to have on hand, and electronic etiquette. I’ve decided to turn houseguesting into a verb.

Thanks for visiting,

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