Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together. Sometimes, that involves travel. And travel could mean overnight guests. When you rented your apartment, you probably weren’t thinking about Uncle Carl and Aunt Sue arriving for Thanksgiving and needing a place to stay. Or maybe you figured out-of-town guests would opt for a hotel. A few years ago, you probably would have been right – but with the trend toward frugality, you may find your Aunt and Uncle, your cousin, or even your in-laws on your doorstep.
Don’t panic. Before your guests arrive, make a couple of quick casseroles and put them in the freezer. This way you’ll have a go-to lunch or dinner that you can just pop in the oven and serve. You can also do this for breakfast – make a breakfast casserole and heat it up in the morning. By preparing and freezing meals ahead of time, you’ll save valuable time. And you don’t want to be trying to cook in your tiny kitchen while your guest sit and stare at you from the living room.
Now, figure out where they will sleep. If you have only one bedroom, you could take the couch and give your guests your room. This way, they’ll have some privacy, and they can go in and shut the door so each of you will have some “quiet time.” If you aren’t comfortable giving up your bedroom and you don’t have a sleeper sofa or futon in the living room, you’ll have to make a few minor adjustments. Move the coffee table and other furniture in the living room to accommodate an air mattress. Or try to find a create way to use your space. When my parents had an out-of-town guest recently, they rearranged the plants in the sunroom – an enclosed “patio” with lots of windows – and put an air mattress on the floor in there. A studio apartment can be a little more tricky. Try using a partition to create some privacy. (Consider building your own divider complete with storage space.)
Give your guests places to put things. If you have a spare closet, let them use it to hang their holiday outfits and coats. Place towels, washcloths, a bar of soap, and other toiletries on a shelf in the bathroom or on table in their room (or put everything in a small, portable basket). This way they won’t feel awkward asking for such things. Be sure your guests have a place to hang damp towels so they can be reused (unless you want to run down to the laundry room every day!).
Ask your guests ahead of time about any special needs or concerns – how they prefer their coffee, if they have any allergies, will they need a hair dryer, do they want a nightlight on (especially if they are bringing a young child along), and so on. You don’t want to wake up in the morning and start the coffee and then have your guest ask for something you don’t use and don’t normally keep on hand, such as non-dairy creamer or artificial sweetener. Also, you don’t want to make a big breakfast complete with bacon, eggs, biscuits, and gravy and then find out Uncle Carl is on cholesterol medication and can’t eat any of it.
Being in such tight quarters, you need to schedule a few “escapes” for both yourself and your guests. If you have relatives or friends in common, send your guests to them for an afternoon. Or, buy them tickets to a museum, concert, or a theater performance. They will think it is so kind of you to treat them with such a special evening out, and you will get your apartment to yourself for a while to relax and enjoy some quiet time. It’s a win-win.
Finally, apartment living can mean limited parking – if your guests are driving in or renting a car, be sure they know ahead of time where they can park. You may also want to alert your apartment manager that you’ll be having guests for the holiday weekend, especially if it is a gated or secured community. If necessary, you can request a temporary pass for your guests. Also, let your guests know ahead of time about any rules your complex may have -- no noise after 10 p.m., no laundry on the balcony, no smoking, etc.