Hosting houseguests for the holidays

With the holidays in full swing, your home is probably going to be filling up with guests pretty soon, and there’s a good chance that a few of them will be spending the night. If you’re concerned about your readiness, don’t sweat it—just follow this guide to hosting houseguests!

Woman talking on phone to help plan for hosting houseguests

Communicating ahead of time

For everyone’s benefit, it’s wise to have a little chat with your guests before they arrive. Here are a few good questions to ask:

  • When are they coming and how long do they plan to stay?
  • Do they have their own transportation?
  • Is there anything specific they want to do while they’re in town?
  • Do they have any food requirements, allergies or preferences?
  • Do they have any other special requirements?

For your own sanity, it’s also important that you let your houseguests know about your own situation so they don’t have unreasonable expectations. Let your guests know about:

  • Your work or other commitments during the time of their stay
  • Any household routines that must be adhered to, such as children’s bedtimes or letting out pets at certain times
  • Their sleeping arrangements
  • What they need to bring and what you’ll be able to provide

Person laying towels on bed to prepare for hosting houseguests

Getting your house ready

How much work you put into preparing your house for overnight guests depends on what state your living space is in to begin with—hopefully it’s not too far gone—and how discerning your guests will be. For example, you’ll probably want to clean more intensively for your mother in-law than for your old college buddies.

If you’re hosting a holiday party or get-together in addition to having people stay with you, chances are you’ll be taking care of some of these tasks anyway:

  • Cleaning: You don’t have to scrub your windows and dust every knickknack, but cover all the basics. Sweep and vacuum, give the kitchen and bath areas a good once-over, and eliminate as much clutter as you can.
  • Sleeping arrangements: If you have a guest bedroom, put clean sheets, blankets and pillows on the bed—bonus points for extra blankets. Also, clear out a drawer for your guests’ belongings, and try to make the room look clean while keeping it homey. If you don’t have a guest room, do what you can to make your couch, futon or air mattress as warm and welcoming as possible.
  • Stock up: You’ll want to provide for your guests as best you can… within reason. Make sure there’s food in the fridge, put clean towels in the closet and if you’ve been saving all those little hotel soaps and shampoos for years, now is your chance to put them out!

Young family being welcomed in as houseguests by parents

Hosting houseguests

While hosting houseguests, your goal is to make them feel comfortable and welcome, not like they’re in the way or that you’re inconveniencing yourself to accommodate them.

  • Put out some games and reading materials (for kids and adults).
  • Make plenty of outlets available for phone-charging.
  • Plan activities and trips, but allow some downtime too.
  • Invite guests to be a part of your regular routine—ask if they need to go to the store or want to come walk the dog.
  • Give your guests priority parking.
  • Make snacks available and let your guests know that they can help themselves.
  • If they ask to help out, let them. Everybody likes to feel useful!

You don’t have to provide constant entertainment or transform your home into a five-star hotel for your houseguests—and chances are, your guests understand this as well as you do. So, have fun while you’re hosting houseguests! For more holiday tips, check out our blog.

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