Preparing your home for your home exchange partner is akin to having guests coming over. The exception is that they are going to stay in your house for the next week or two, and not just for dinner.
What should be the things to prepare? Where does one start? Which things can be left as they are?
From experienced home exchangers, some practical tips have been collated through the years for use by first-time home exchangers. Some of them are quite simple. Some are just practical things one needs to do even in ordinary situations. Others, of course, are important requirements.
This is one of the first requirements in preparing for your house guests. Check out all the clothes in your closet and get rid of all those that you have not worn for the past year (you don’t like them anymore), those that are in need of repair (you don’t care for them), and those that you hoped would fit you again (they won’t).
Put them all in bags to give away to friends, family or charity. Do these in all the closets in your house. Traditionally, it is expected that you leave considerable space (and plenty of hangers, too!) in these closets for use by your guests.
The overall plan is to make enough room for your guests, and your personal items have to be moved and stored elsewhere.
Assign one room or perhaps a closet to be off-limits to your guests. This is where you store your personal items you leave behind: jewelry, your papers and private correspondences, very personal toiletries, delicate items, treasured art pieces, personal knick-knack items, etc. You will discover there is now plenty of space in the house for use by your guests.
Basic toiletry items such as toilet paper, soaps, and other cleaning items should be available and ready. Store your personal items (toothbrushes, shavers, etc.) in some nearby drawer. A fresh supply of clean bath and hand towels (as well as bed sheets, pillow case and other related items) should be available, too.
A supply of hand soaps, bath salts, or body lotion would spice up your bathroom. This is just an idea. You may have your own pleasant surprises for your guests.
The kitchen and appliances
For a real homebody, one of the many pleasures in a real home is a fully-equipped kitchen. Cooking away from home also takes on a special sense for some people. Providing a well-equipped kitchen for your guests certainly adds appreciation points for you.
Make sure the major appliances work. Knives need to be sharp. Pots and pans have to be ready for use. Those tools and cleaning supplies have to be in one easy-to-find place.
It is a good idea to stock up on oils, vinegar, flour, salt, sugar and other basic condiments for home cooking. Keep your cookbooks and favorite recipes within easy reach.
You may write notes to your guests on where to buy the freshest fish, the best butcher, where to find bargains, and where the best restaurants are.
A leaky faucet would really have to be repaired, as much as that busted bulb has to be replaced. The wooden shed with peeling paint at the back of the house need not be repainted. Some sprucing up, of course, goes a long way.
Do you need to re-grout the bathroom tiles?
Is the kitchen sink dripping?
Does that linen closet really need repainting?
Where did that toilet paper holder in the downstairs bathroom go?
Is it time to shampoo the carpets?
In the end, you will notice your home had taken on a new attractive livable look, beautiful as it may have been before the streamlining and the sprucing up.
Finally, you may notice that all the repairs and the sprucing up were really how to make your home work (and look) good for you, and not just for your home exchange guests. As you may have noticed, that is the best part.
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