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Hostess with the Mostest: 13 Tips for Hosting Guests Over the Holidays

With the holidays coming up, I know a lot of us are gearing up to open our homes for friends and family visiting from afar. As someone who has stayed in some of the best hotels and BnBs in the world, whenever I play host, I like to incorporate the little things I learned from my travels. I like to think once you’ve experienced both the best and the worst in hospitality, you learn a thing or two about hosting guests in your own home! Here are some ways I like to make sure everyone that stays with me feels as comfortable and welcome as possible. 

My Tried and True Tips for Hosting Guests

1. Make Up a Basket of Forgettables.

As any traveler knows – we always forget something. To this day after so many years on the road, I still find myself forgetting a charger or my toothbrush or my shampoo. Make up a little basket of amenities so guests don’t feel the need to make a pitstop at Walgreens or Duane Reade on their way. Just pick up a cute basket and fill it with any of the following:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Feminine Products
  • Hand Cream
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Make-up Remover
  • Phone charger
  • Razors
  • Q-Tips
  • Contact Solution and cases
  • Hair combs or brushes
  • Face masks

Add anything else you’d think someone would forget!

2. Make Sure Their Rooms are Well-Equipped.

The goal, of course, is to make sure your guests don’t need to ask you for anything. In their room, put out plenty of bath towels, extra blankets, and even some chilled bottles of water or their favorite drink. If you want to go the extra mile, add some magazines or books you’d think they’d like!

Depending on your guests, it might also be worth it to ask how they like their beds and pillows. I like the idea of having a mattress pad on hand for those that need extra cushion as well as a mix of softer and firmer pillows since we all have our preferences.

Oh, and it can’t hurt to stock some paper towels and/or Lysol wipes in case they need to clean something off.

3. Don’t Skimp on the Bathroom.

Every bathroom should have the following basics:

  • Plenty of Toilet Paper – Seriously, just leave a giant basket with more rolls than you’d think a guest would need. No one wants to ask for toilet paper, not even my family.
  • A Toilet Brush and Plunger – If no one wants to ask for toilet paper, they want to ask for something to clean your toilet bowl even less.
  • Air Freshener – Some people are shy and worried about smell. Plus if you live in a smaller home, bad smells travel quickly.
  • Tissues – Especially around the holidays when everyone’s got stuffy noses
  • Hand Soap – This is a given!
  • Hand/Body Lotion – This is underrated, but don’t we all get drier skin and hands in the colder weather? Keep some lotion next to the hand soap.
  • Blow Dryer – Most people aren’t going to travel with their blow dryer, so it’s nice to have one in there just in case. After all, it’s a little awkward to have to go find a blow dryer when you’re probably wrapped in a towel with dripping hair.

4. Keep Them Connected.

In this day and age, who doesn’t immediately ask for the WIFI password at any new place they go? Make it easy and create a little placard for their side table with the WIFI network and password. It’s so simple, and they’ll love you for it!

5. Make Sure They Have Space for Their Stuff.

I know guest room closets become the de facto junk drawers for our lives, and if you have grown kids, I just know they see it as their extra storage space. When you have guests make sure they have space for their things! Clear out at least part of their closet and some drawers so they can fully unpack if they want to and not have to keep everything on the floor.

As a bonus, I also like having the little luggage racks you find in all hotel rooms and enough empty hangers for both tops and bottoms in the closet. Some other nice touches could be some sort of rack for jackets and purses as well as an iron/ironing board or steamer.

6. Establish Boundaries with Guests Ahead of Time.

Every house is different, so I find it’s good to establish some boundaries ahead of time to avoid awkward conversation after the fact. Are you a shoes off household? Make sure they have space on your shoe rack. Are the walls fairly thin? Let them know so they’re not blasting music in the shower or blow drying their hair when everyone is trying to sleep.

I also find it’s good to make sure they know how often you can hangout vs. when you can’t. Sometimes guests expect to be glued at the hip their entire visit and other times they’re happy to go off and do a little exploring on their own. If you’re supposed to also be arranging holiday dinner or need to do some work while they’re here, let them know.

Some people’s homes really do feel like an igloo in Quebec City

7. Most Importantly – Establish Temperature.

Everyone has a temperature they’re most comfortable with and more often than not, those temperatures conflict. Make sure they know what you keep the house at so they can prepare themselves. It might also be helpful to add a space heater or fan to their room depending on how they cope.

The Chinese Teahouse at Marble House in Rhode Island

8. Coffee, Coffee, Coffee (or Tea!)

Make a plan for morning coffee. Make sure you know when everyone gets up and is expecting their morning cup. My rule is that the first one awake makes the coffee (and that’s never me).

You also want to make sure you have all the proper coffee fixin’s:

  • Coffee beans (get different roasts or ask your guest what they prefer)
  • Tea bags (if they’re a tea drinker, just ask what they like)
  • Mugs (put out mugs for guests to use, hide the ones you want for yourself)
  • Sugar (or other sweetener variants)
  • Spoons/Mixers
  • Creamer, Half n Half, Milk (again ask your guest – if you’re a whole milk family and they’re lactose intolerant, it’ll be nice to grab some almond or oat milk for them to have!)

Make morning coffee or tea an enjoyable experience.

9. Play Travel Guide.

Whenever I have out of town visitors, I like to create a small booklet of things to do or small day trips they can take with all my favorite recommendations. As much as I love New York City, I do not need to go to Times Square or the Top of the Rock every time I host a new visitor. Plus, it’s always good to get a break from each other! 

Here’s what I like to add to my little recommendations booklet:

  • General things to do in the area and nearby
  • Day trips that are easy to take (as well as how to get there)
  • All my cafe, restaurant, and shopping picks for the neighborhood
  • Great parks where they can hangout or stretch their legs.

Plus, depending on the holiday, I like to add in some fun spots to get into the spirit.

Learning the art of the cheese board at Fromagination in Madison, WI

10. Offer Up Concierge-Level Snack Service.

Have you ever experienced concierge level service? Essentially some hotels (and most stadiums) have a private, exclusive lounge where people pay for the service of having different snack presentations provided throughout their stay. Don’t feel like you have to go too crazy, but consider putting out a plate of cookies and some drinks around late afternoon and some cheese and wine around evening time. Now that’s five stars, baby!

11. Give Guests a Kitchen Tour.

When your guests arrive take them on a tour of the kitchen to show them where the food, glasses, and utensils are located. Make sure they know when you’ll be planning a meal and when they are free to make themselves a sandwich. That frees your time up as well.

Also important – if you have an established trash and recycling system, let them know!

12. It’s All in the Details.

Now, this isn’t necessary, but if you really, really want everyone to consider you the best host they’ve ever had, pay attention to the small details and find ways to elevate them. I swear this is how five star hotels differentiate themselves from three star ones.

Make sure the guest room is thoughtfully designed and not just the room with all your extra furniture. Think thoughtful artwork, calming colors, shades and blinds that work. Add a candle with their favorite scent. Maybe put out a little bouquet. Instead of just water bottles, create a little drink station complete with a carafe and glasses. Make sure the side table has a lamp so they can just roll over and turn it off instead of getting up to turn off the overhead light. Add in a comfy chair into the room so they can lounge on that instead of just the bed.

Just lots of little touches that are easy to overlook and aren’t necessary but are always appreciated. 

13. Relax and Enjoy Yourself.

The ultimate key to hosting guests? Relax! No house guest wants to feel like they’re imposing on you, so if you’re fluttering around them and anxious over everything, they’re going to feel uncomfortable fast. At the end of the day, guests are here to see you, not treat your home like a hotel. Just relax and enjoy it!

And there you have it – all my best tips for hosting guests for the holidays and really any time of year! For more, check out this fun video below:

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. These are all thoughtful and helpful.
    Since we live in a one bathroom home, sharing a general schedule is really helpful for everyone (like: we will need the bathroom from _ to _ in the morning). It is not rude to inform guests what the boundaries are and what you are expecting of them. Let them know if you don’t want them to strip the bed when they leave (some people appreciate it when a guest does this, others don’t).

  2. I agree about the forgetful basket. When I go to the dentist, I always keep the floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste for my guests. The floss size is the perfect amount for a short stay. Also, I keep spray deodorant on hand because someone will forget it and some people may be iffy about using your deodorant stick or vice versa.

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