Q: 'Do you make up the beds with clean linen or do you leave the clean linen next to the beds? Do you have to tell your home swap guests that they are welcome to use your clean towels, soap, shampoo, kitchen condiments etc. or is it assumed that they will (also for us when we're in their home)? I want to make sure that I am a good home swap host and a good home swap guest and don't want to make any first time faux pas! - Eva (Reykjavik, Iceland)
A: Unless you are really going to be pushed for time on the day you leave home (in which case let your exchange guests know or, better still, arrange for someone to come in to make beds before their arrival), leave all beds that will be used by your exchange guests ready made up with clean bed linen. They may be tired after a long flight and won't want the hassle of having to make their own beds. Leave additional clean bedding plus extra towels, indicating in your 'Instructions' where such supplies are stored. Soap should be left on sinks but most people will bring their own personal items like shampoos, etc; but do let them know if you are happy for them to use anything of yours.
Rather than buying every small food item, it's generally fine to use small quantities of spices, sugar, sauces, etc. Most members will have a little clear-out of their refrigerators before the exchange so that it looks welcoming and there is space for your guests to store some basics. It's good however to leave a few basic items such as fresh milk, butter, bread, tea, coffee and often the 'fixings' for a first, simple meal for their guests.
Don't be afraid to raise what may seem very trivial points to your home exchange partners during your correspondence in the run-up to your exchange. If, for example, you mention that you are happy for them to help themselves to any food left in your fridge and other items that they aren't likely to use much of, that should prompt them to offer the same to you!
It's a good idea to create a welcome folder for your guests with information about your home and local area. It's always a nice touch to also leave a small gift for your guests such as a bottle of wine, local delicacy or a bunch of flowers.
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