Ho Ho Hosting: Tips for Hosts and Guests

December 18, 2017

Hosting a dinner party is one thing. But a houseful of guests over a long weekend is quite another.
With the season of guest rooms and pull-out couches upon us, we felt that we could all do with a little refresher course when it comes to extended visits. Though you may have known your holiday roomie for decades, a little etiquette is always in order.
To ensure that you’re both looking forward to next year already, we’ve put together some handy tips for holiday hosts and their grateful guests.


Prepare the Guest Room 

Your guests will be spending a lot of time in your spare room, so make sure it’s comfortable and homey. Fresh sheets, a cozy quilt, and plenty of pillows will help melt away any travel stress. Clear out space in the closet, and stock the nightstand with the essentials (a water pitcher and alarm clock) and little extras (a note with your wi-fi password, candle, and fresh flowers).

As for the bathroom, set out an abundance of clean towels and mini toiletries to cover anything your guests may have forgotten. Stock up on essentials like toilet paper and hygiene products, as guests might feel awkward asking for more.

Want to win host of the year? A week before your guests arrive, spend a night in their room to see if the bed could use another pillow or if a sleep mask is needed for the bright morning sun.

Meet & Greet
Traveling can be hectic, which means treating your guests to a warm welcome will be much appreciated. If they’re arriving by plane, train, or bus, offer to pick them up from the terminal or arrange transportation to your home. If they’re driving, ensure they have a convenient place to park. To make settling in all the more festive, cue up your favorite holiday album and have something warm to sip on.

Help Guests Help Themselves
Guests may feel awkward asking every time they need something. When they arrive, show them around the kitchen so they feel comfortable making a snack and helping themselves. Leave coffee and tea supplies in clear view, as well as fresh fruit or muffins for the morning. If your guests are staying for longer than a weekend, a quick laundry room might be helpful.

Embrace Downtime
Hosting is hard work. You’re always “on,” meaning it’s easy to forget that your guests are actually taking time off—from work, from deadlines, from their daily lives. While it’s great to plan festive activities and uphold any holiday traditions you have, allow some time for your guests (and yourself) to relax without each other’s company. It’s helpful to have a rough schedule of events to ensure everyone is on the same page with plans and that some mutually agreed-upon time alone is built in.

If this is your guests’ first time in town, give them a city map and suggest a few shopping, dining, and entertainment ideas so that they’ll feel comfortable exploring a new space if you’re unable to tag along.



Bring a Gift
You know the rule: never show up empty-handed. While hosting gifts should be thoughtful, they don’t need to be elaborate. Consider something relaxing, like a candle or cozy throw. When in doubt? Personal touches like monograms or hometown treats go a long way. Just avoid buying a gift card for your hostess—you don’t want to put a price tag on your stay in the guest room. If you’re staying in a household with children, consider bringing a little something for them, too! 

Lend a Hand
Given the time of year, it’s likely you’ll share a homecooked meal during your stay. Lend a helping hand where you can, and offer to do some prep work like chopping greens, setting the table, or running out for last-minute groceries. When the meal is over, help clear the dishes and load the dishwasher before you relax in the living room. If there isn’t something planned, offer to take your host out to dinner. Better yet? Cook a meal for her from start to finish.  

Tidy Up
You might feel relaxed when it comes to leaving dirty dishes in your sister’s sink. But a good guest always cleans up after themselves, no matter how close the bond or how small the mess. The key is to leave each room exactly as you’ve found it—if not a little better. This also goes for making your bed in the morning and putting makeup and toothbrushes away in communal bathrooms. When it’s time to leave, give your host a head start on cleaning by folding the linens you’ve used and stripping the guest bed.

Send Your Thanks
Of course you’ll say thank you, but even in the age of the text message, proper gratitude goes a long way. Send a handwritten note on pretty stationery and be specific about what you enjoyed, whether it was an activity, a meal, or the lovely guest room. If you stayed for more than a weekend, consider sending a small gift along with your card, like her favorite chocolate or an ornament for next year.

Hosting an out-of-towner? Find guest room essentials here.

You’re the guest? Shop hostess gifts here