preparing to host guests
I’m not exactly sure where my love of hosting began, but I would assume my upbringing certainly played a role. I remember my parents being very open to visitors and hosting large dinners with extra guests from time to time (and especially during holidays). My whole adult life I have always enjoyed hosting. I’ve opened our doors to more baby showers + bridal showers + birthday parties + game nights + family gatherings than I’d ever be able to count. And I love it.
On a much less formal level, we have our kids’ friends over at our house frequently. We have up to 50 people at a time when the whole extended family can make it for a gathering. And we have a dedicated guest room where we have hosted friends and family overnight many times over. Sometimes just for a quick overnighter. Sometimes for several days or longer. We’ve even had people move in for a month or two, during transitional times, including David’s parents who actually stayed with us for 9 months recently. So yeah … we’re the hosting type. ; )
In this blog post I’m specifically focusing on ideas related to hosting overnight guests. Now I realize that we’re probably not the “norm” with a fully dedicated guest room, but these ideas that I’m sharing will surely apply even if you don’t have a dedicated guest room. Even if you’re in a situation of kids getting kicked out of their beds when guests come to town. Expecting guests to stay with you soon or even around the holidays? I’ve compiled all of my thoughts + ideas into this one blog post. If you gain even just a couple little nuggets of inspiration, that’s great.
Oh, and I bet you’ll want to know where I got some of the things you’ll see in these pictures, huh? I’ll do my best to link as many things as possible. NOTE: None of this is sponsored in any way. This is all stuff I found in stores and I made these purchases just like any regular consumer. I’m basically just a girl browsing some aisles and piecing things together with a vision. ; )
ONE MORE NOTE: You didn’t think I could write a blog post without throwing “Begin with the end in mind” in here, did you?? Beginning with the end in mind … imagining what the ultimate but realistic end result might be for you and your guest(s) … ask yourself this question: What is the desired experience for your guest(s)? Do you want them to be comfortable? Do you want them to feel welcomed? Do you want them to have fond memories staying in your home? So much of this doesn’t have as much to do with physical things at all but rather the way they FEEL being in your home. Know what I mean?
Okay, let’s get down to some practical tips!
10 things to consider when preparing to host guests
1 – FIRST IMPRESSIONS
My best tip in all of this? BE the guest! Really put yourself in their shoes. Imagine that YOU are the guest in your home. If I entered a home where I knew I’d be spending the night, the fresh scent of a candle would be a lovely first impression. An inviting bed would certainly be appreciated. A comfortable temperature would be reassuring. Fresh flowers? While completely unnecessary (and flowers aren’t even my “love language”) I would feel like my hosts really wanted me to feel that extra special welcome.
What are some other details that would matter to YOU? When you think about your own experiences as a guest, you just may have some fond “first impression” memories from staying in someone else’s home … and perhaps even some not-so-pleasant experiences that would encourage you to be sure you’re looking after certain details.
“Home is …” framed print is from Dot & Bo a long time ago and I don’t think they sell it anymore.
Everything else shown in the picture above (candle, pencil cup, two-tier tray thing) is from Home Goods.
Bedside table is also from West Elm and it’s called Modern Nightstand.
Lamp is from All Modern and it’s called Phoenix 24″ H Table Lamp by Langley Street, but I don’t think they sell it anymore.
Vase is from Home Goods. I picked up the magazines and fresh flowers at my local grocery store.
Large camera print was a gift from Catherine Davis several years ago. It’s one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received and at one point it was hanging in my home office, but I really love it in our guest room. I think I picked up the poster size frame at Michaels. Catherine actually made the files available on her blog, but because that was so long ago she actually thought that we should just offer those right here on my blog! Thank you Catherine!
In Catherine’s own words: “This photo enlargement cost me $3.29! I’ve seen the idea to get oversized black and white images printed for cheap at copy shops and wanted to try it. Since this is for my home office, I decided to go with something more graphic versus family photos. I looked around, took a few shots of my beloved camera collection, and boom! I’m crazy about the results! I got my printing done at Staples and asked for an engineering print. (I burned the image onto a CD and took it into the store.) It’s low-quality imaging on super thin paper, but I have zero complaints. It did cost less than a Starbucks run.”
FREE DOWNLOAD | Catherine is offering the Seagull camera image, plus an additional image of a vintage Brownie camera, as a free download for you to make your own posters. Both images are sized at 24″ x 36″ and 300 dpi resolution. Grab the zipped files here:
2 – WHAT THEY’RE WONDERING ABOUT
Speaking of having that mindset of “being the guest,” also think about the things that you know your guest(s) will be wondering about as they stay in your home. Instead of making them ask, be proactive in sharing information so they feel even more at home. Some examples —
Where are the towels? Point them out in the linen closet or, even better, place enough towels in the bedroom where they’ll be sleeping.
I’m sure I picked up the white towels at Home Goods (shocking, I know).
What’s the WiFi password? It’s as simple as telling them, but you could also have this written on a little notecard in their room or if you’re feeling extra fancy, you could have this in a little frame as a permanent fixture in your guest room.
What’s for breakfast? I know it’s probably not the main thing that every house guest is thinking about, but it’s a detail worth thinking about. We’ve stayed in homes where we didn’t know if there were plans for breakfast or if we should start opening cupboards to look for options, or if we should head out to grab something or … I digress. I’ve just learned that it’s nice to simply mention to your guest(s) whether you’re planning to make breakfast or if they’re on their own in the morning, and if they are, give them options and be sure to point out where to find things. It can be uncomfortable for people to feel like they’re rummaging through drawers and the fridge to find something to eat. Make it more comfortable for them even if you’re not pulling off a homemade breakfast.
Where are the extra blankets? Everyone’s different when it comes to preferred temperature at night. Don’t make any assumptions. Provide extra blankets in case they get cold and keep these in their room or point out where they can be found.
Is it okay to do some laundry? Is there an iron & ironing board? Again, this is something you could bring up with your guest(s) instead of waiting for them to ask. Give them a quick tutorial on how your washer & dryer work since sometimes that quick walk-through is very appreciated, knowing that machines vary and some have quirks. ; )
3 – BASICS FOR COMFORT
I mentioned extra blankets. Think also about extra towels and pillows. Consider keeping these in the room where your guest(s) are sleeping. As a guest it’s comforting to know the options are there. And please be sure to wash all the things after your guest(s) leave / before the next guest(s) arrive. Fresh linens for the win, guys. Always.
Everything you see in this photo is from … you guessed it! Home Goods! The yellow chair, the blanket (they have the softest blankets!), the darling basket. Ugh, I wish I could find these actual items to share links. My best advice is to go to your local Home Goods and just walk up & down the aisles. They have so much great stuff — always! And great prices!
4 – FURNISHINGS
If you have a dedicated guest room, here are a few furnishing details worth considering.
- a place to sit
- a desk
- a bedside table + lamp
- hangers, in the closet and ready to use
- laundry basket(s) — I like one for darks + one for lights, for guests that are staying a while
Our flooring in the guest room is called COREtec Plus® and you can find it here. I think our color is “Saginaw Oak.”
We picked up these hangers at Costco, but the same ones can be found here on Amazon.
We got the laundry baskets at Target. I don’t see the exact one on their website, but this one on Amazon is super close.
5 – BATHROOM ESSENTIALS
First of all, I prefer to keep shampoo, conditioner, and body wash already in the shower. It’s just convenient for the guests to have that as an option. Aside from the toilet paper already in place, please do your guest(s) a favor and have extra rolls of toilet paper in a very easy-to-find place. Most people probably think to look in a drawer or cupboard of the bathroom so keep that in mind.
I haven’t always been good about this but have recently made this part of my hosting rhythm and that is … keeping a little crate full of extra travel-size toiletries! You never know what your guest(s) might need, and surely seeing these items upon their arrival will help them to feel like their bases are covered … even if they forgot something. This little crate was part of a trio set that I found at Home Goods.
All items can be found at your local grocery store, Target, Walmart, Walgreen’s, CVS, etc. I included sample sizes of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, chapstick, facial cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, razor, shave gel, bath loofah thing, bobby pins, hair elastics, etc.
Okay, now let’s talk about Poo-Pourri, shall we? We keep this at every toilet in our house and even at the office. Their tagline “Spritz the Bowl Before-You-Go and No One Else Will Ever Know!” Also, their commercials are kinda hilarious. Anyway — whether your guest(s) have their own private bathroom or they’ll be using the one right by your kitchen, I’m sure EVERYone will appreciate having this handy at the toilet. We stay stocked with Poo-Pourri through Amazon.
Have you ever visited someone’s home (or even used the bathroom in a public place) … and the soap is utterly OUT? Ugh. Not cool. Please be sure your bathrooms have soap. My favorite foaming hand soap (for many years) comes from Bath & Body Works.
Speaking of bad luck, please also be sure a plunger is by your toilet because … well, you just never know. Let’s keep embarrassing situations (for you AND for your guests) to a minimum, shall we? ; )
Another bathroom detail: A hair dryer! If I can travel without one, I totally will. I always depend on one in hotel rooms. Having one available in someone’s home where I’m staying is totally unexpected but SO appreciated so I don’t have to borrow theirs when I know they’ll need to use it at the same time, you know?
Also — more bathroom details! I love keeping cotton balls + q-tips handy in my own bathroom for daily use, so of course I have those in the bathroom for our guests as well. I picked up these pretty containers and the two-tiered tray thing you see here below at Home Goods. Oh, and be sure to have a trash can / bin in the bathroom.
6 – UNEXPECTED DETAILS
I hope you’re not feeling like you have to do ALL these things when having a guest stay in your home! There’s no reason to go overboard. I DO hope you’re feeling motivated about perhaps a couple things … and that’s why I’m including so many ideas in one place. : )
When someone stays overnight at your house, they’ll be expecting a place to sleep — a bed or perhaps an air mattress or at least a couch. This is expected. They’ll likely expect that you have towels to use and a few other things as well. When it comes to some of those unexpected details … well, that’s up to you. This is where you can add your little touch.
Our most recent house guest was Laurie, a French / Mauritius chaperone who came to Arizona with 9 teenage students from Paris. Her responsibility was to travel across the world with the minors and look after their arrangements here. She was their liason and point person, between the students and the foreign exchange student program. So anyway … she needed a place to stay for 3.5 weeks, we heard about the need, and said … we’ll do it!
In preparation for Laurie’s arrival, I filled this little crate (from Home Goods) with some of our family’s favorite snacks and a couple water bottles. I was sure that she had a few office supplies available at her finger tips — pens, scissors, a notebook. I picked up a couple magazines I thought she’d enjoy and had those on her nightstand.
You might consider your kids making a personalized welcome sign for your guest(s) — something we failed to pull off in time, but I wanted to do that. ; ) Or perhaps you want to place a few of your favorite books / quick reads in the bedroom where they’ll be staying.
This crate came as a set of 3 and it is from Home Goods. So is the pencil cup you see below.
7 – GUEST BOOK
Speaking of making things personal, one of my absolute favorite memory-keeping projects EVER, has been to keep a guest album. We have several now, from over the years. I use a Project Life® Mini Album (available in several colors and if you’re favorite is sold out, click on that turquoise button of the product page that says “email me when it’s available” so that you can be automatically notified). I used pre-designed cards from the Guest Book Mini Kit digital collection. The files are all set up and ready to print the cards on 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock at home, and I just trim them to size so they’re ready to go! Our guests fill out the cards, I pop in a few 4×6 pictures at the end of their stay, and it’s SO much fun!
8 – EXTRAS TO CONSIDER
A few thoughts on some ideas that I haven’t actually implemented myself, but these are details that some will deem worth considering as well:
- extra hooks for towels, coats, bags
- luggage rack
- white-noise maker
- blackout shades
9 – A TOUCH OF LOCAL
Going back to the guest room concept, if you do have that option, consider including in your decor a map of the area or decor that is local / regional. I found this desert art at Home Goods (go figure) and I’m obsessed. It actually depicts a body of water in the background and we live close to Lake Pleasant here in the northern Phoenix area, so it’s utterly perfect. You might consider framing your own scenic pictures of where you live as a fun and personalized touch in the guest room.
Desk is from Crate & Barrel and it’s called the Pilsen Salt Desk.
10 – POUR ON THE LOVE!
Oh guys. This for sure is more important than any cute pillow or homemade breakfast or toilet spray. LOVE on your guests! Help them feel welcomed by inviting them in with open arms, encouraging them to make themselves at home, telling them that they are welcome to have anything they find in the pantry or fridge, and asking them if there’s anything at all they might need before turning in for the night. The next morning, ask if they slept okay. Ask if the temperature was alright. Let them know through your actions and words that you are so glad they could be there in your home.
BONUS | As I was preparing the guest room for Laurie’s arrival and also taking care of some finishing touches on the room so I could ultimately share this blog post, I filmed some of the behind-the-scenes action in Instagram Stories. That collection of 10-second video clips is now on YouTube and just might be fun for you to watch. ; )
BONUS #2 | We have created a downloadable PDF checklist for you to use when preparing for guests! Click on that link and print / use as you please.