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The best tips for being an awesome host or houseguest

Lots of people are traveling this holiday season. Sometimes a house full of people can be challenging for both the host and guest, but when everyone is happy the outcome can be magical.  The trick is being prepared, communication and having the right approach. Here’s my take on how to welcome guests into your home and on the flip side how to be a good guest when you travel.

First, how to be a good host:

Hospitality: Make them feel like you’re actually glad they’re here.

  • Put out everything the guest will need to be comfortable in their room: bath towels, magazines, and a few chilled bottles of water.
  • Make up a basket of forgettables: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, feminine products, hand cream, shampoo and conditioner.
  • Connecting with your guests. Have your WIFI password written on a piece of paper and put it by the guest bed.  So simple and they will love you for it.
  • Create some space for their stuff.  Your grown children should have moved their stuff out the guest room closet years ago.  If the closet has to remain full then make sure there’s at least a place for the guest’s luggage like a rack or table.  And no the floor does not count.
  • Plan for everyone to get coffee each morning.  Make sure you know when everyone gets up and is expecting their morning cup.  My rule is that the first one up makes the coffee (and that’s never me).  Supply all the coffee fixins: coffee beans, mugs, sugar, spoons or if you have one of those pod machines, even better.  Buy a nice selection of different flavors and strengths.  Make the coffee each morning an enjoyable experience.
  • Be a concierge. Create some small day trips for them with lists of diners and cafes you like, an area with great antique shops or a pretty drive.  I always like my guests to know a good place to walk or jog.  Depending on how long the guests stay it may be nice to have a break from each other.
  • Housekeeping services.  Make sure you put out plenty of toilet paper or tell them where the stock is.  No one wants to ask for toilet paper. Not even family.
  • Snack time. Give them concierge level service. Ever stay on one of these? It’s a private lounge on an exclusive floor for those who pay for the service of having food presentations (aka snacks) provided throughout the day.  You don’t have to knock yourself out but a plate of cookies and carafe of coffee around late afternoon, cheese, olives and wine at 6.  Now that’s 5-star, baby!
  • 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.

And on the flip side, here’s how to be a good guest:

Remember, you’re not staying in a hotel!

  • Communicate your plans. Be very clear when you are arriving and when you are leaving.  This helps the host plan and prepare for meals.
  • Food requirements. If you have them, share them. It seems like everyone is on some sort of diet. Guests should make it known in advance what their eating restrictions are and if it’s something more specific than being a vegetarian my feeling is you should then bring your very specific raw food diet/gluten free foods with you.
  • Bring something to share. Don’t worry about cooking something. It could be a great hunk of cheese or a good bottle of wine. Or a really fun game you know how to organize. Share some things you like with your hosts and let them get to know you better.
  • Lend a hand in the kitchen.  Most hosts will absolutely love it if you help out in the kitchen.  I know there are men out there who still think cooking and doing dishes are women’s work.  Time to get over it.  Here are some of the tasks you can offer to help with:
  • Wash the dishes or helping with the dishwasher; holiday cooking creates serious volume.
  • Take out the trash and recyclables.
  • Refresh everyone’s drink or offer to be the bartender
  • Detail the host’s car. Hey why not?!
  • When you leave, ask if the host would like you to strip the bed and deliver dirty towels to the laundry room.  I love when guests do this, but I also know hosts who prefer you leave everything in your room.

Are you a better host or house guest?

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Lots of people are traveling this holiday season. Sometimes a house full of people can be challenging for both the host and guest, but when everyone is happy the outcome can be magical.  The trick is being prepared, communication and having the right approach. Here’s my take on how to welcome guests into your home and on the flip side how to be a good guest when you travel.

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This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. I find the golden rule of being a guest is “leave the place -better- than you found it.” I’ll restock anything I’ve used, maybe over-stock some things that will always get used that aren’t perishable, clean up, do laundry, sweep floors, I even used a leaf-blower on a friend’s entire driveway (which was long!) in Fall in Minnesota because it was The Right Thing To Do.

  2. Fantastic tips! When staying with friends or family, I travel with a thank you card and a small box of chocolates from my local chocolatier. I leave both on the dresser as I leave the guest room I have been using. (I know I personally am terrible about mailing these once I get home, so this removes the possible faux pas of a late thank you.

  3. Yes, yes, yes to asking before stripping the bed! I have had guests pile their wet towels and linen in the washer in an effort to be helpful. Well, I didn’t plan to do laundry, but now that everything is wet, I guess I have to!

    Love the idea to take local chocolates!

  4. For visiting guests (whether they are staying with me or not), I often give them a selection of local postcards and also include colorful postage stamps sufficient to send the cards back to their home country. This not only promotes the lost art of postcard sending but also gives them something to do during their downtime.

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