The holidays are here! For many of us, that means the chance to spend quality time with our relatives, friends, and other loved ones. And for some, it also means that you’re just days away from out-of-town guests coming through your door to spend some extended time in your home.
While having overnight guests can be an absolute joy (how often do you actually get to use your “Guest” Room for its intended purpose?), it can also be quite stressful. Because not only are you playing the role of host – planning activities, cooking meals, organizing the calendar, etc. – but you’re also responsible for all the little details to ensure your guests have a comfortable stay in your home.
But having guests this holiday season doesn’t have to be overly stressful. In fact, with a little prep work you can ensure everything is in place ahead of your guests’ arrival, so that everyone in the home is able to relax and enjoy the holidays!
Ready to get to work? Here’s a look at our top tips for preparing your home for holiday guests:
Clean and Declutter
If your guest room does not host guests very often, there is a very good chance that, like most, it’s become a catch-all storage room for all your stuff. While this works fine for most of the year, when you do plan to have guests, it’s time to clear out space. Much like you wouldn’t feel relaxed or at home in a hotel room that had not been cleaned before your arrival, guests will not be able to relax if you put them in a room that filled to the brim with all your stuff.
Do you best to find a temporary solution for any excessive clutter in your guest room (even if it means stacking up some boxes in the corner of your master for a few days). Also, be sure to clear out space in drawers, nightstands, and closets, as all guests appreciate having a place to actually unpack.
Prep the Bedrooms and Bathroom
While there are many little details that go into the overall comfort level of a guest’s experience, the two most important are the bed and the bathroom. First things first, prep the guest bed with a clean, fresh set of quality linens. Even if you changed the sheets after your last house guests, if it’s been more than a few weeks, go ahead and change them again. You want your guests to feel like they're slipping into luxury each night they crawl into bed.
As for the bathroom, make sure you stock up on plenty of extra supplies, and make them easy for your guests to find. Also, if possible be sure to clear out an extra drawer or counter space for your guests to leave their toiletries. No one likes carrying their whole kit back and forth to the bathroom throughout their entire stay.
Make it Easier for Guests to Navigate
While you know your own home like the back of your hand, it’s important to remember that your holiday guests do not. As such, adding in a few basic touches can make it much easier (and safer) for guests to get around. Add in nightlights to guide guests from their bedroom to the bathroom at night. Place a flashlight on the nightstand to ensure they can find their way to the light switch if needed. And if you have a slick spot on the staircase, a low overhead walking down to the basement, or any other potential hazard, do your best to remedy them ahead of your guest’s arrival to avoid any injuries.
Add Special Touches
Don’t forget that preparing for guests is more than just “checking things off the list”. It’s about ensuring they feel welcomed and special! That said, do your best to find extra special ways to make them know how excited you are to have them in your home. Whether it’s a vase with a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, or a bedside basket filled with a collection of local candies and treats, the little touches go a long way in ensuring guests remember their stay for years to come.
Make it Easy for Guests to Help Themselves
Having guests in your home in undoubtedly stressful. Hosts often feel like they are on-call 24/7, and that they are responsible for every little thing throughout their guests’ stay.
Alleviate this stress by building in ways for guests to help themselves! Set up a coffee station in your kitchen and show your guests how to turn the machine on in case they wake up earlier than you in the morning. Clean and organize your fridge with plenty of drinks, fruit, snacks, and other items, so that guests can take care of themselves between meals. Make a cheat-sheet for the TV and remote so guests can find their favorite shows without your assistance.
In short, make it easy for guests to be independent in your home, and you’ll make it easy on yourself.
Plan Ahead with Food
Cooking meals can be a huge project when you have extra mouths to feed. That being the case, do the best you can to plan ahead before your holiday guests arrive. You’ll of course have your big holiday meal to plan, but what about the other nights? Can you plan a pizza night, a night out at a local restaurant, or some other meal that gives you a night off in the kitchen? Also, try to pre-make as much as you can. Mini egg frittatas can be cooked in muffin pans and frozen for weeks, making morning breakfast as simple as popping a few into the microwave!
When in Doubt, Ask
Even if you’re hosting distant relatives with whom you speak infrequently, if someone is planning on staying in your home, never be afraid to just reach out and ask questions if you have them. What do they like to eat? Do they have dietary restrictions? Will they be ok with the dog? Having an open dialog ahead of your guest’s arrival can go a long way in ensuring a comfortable stay, both for the guests and for the host.
Most importantly, have fun! The holidays are a magical, wonderful time of year, and having the chance to share them over multiple days with loved ones in your home is the best present you could ever receive. Don’t overthink or stress out to the point where you just want the visit to be over. Find ways to alleviate the stress of hosting, and make everyone’s stay (including your own) more comfortable, so that you can enjoy the little moments.
Because in the end, the best and most memorable part of any holiday guest experience is the time you get to share together!