hosting overnight guests: 12 Tips

Hosting overnight guests this holiday season? Family, perhaps? Old college friends?

We all love to see our family and friends come. And we all love to see our family and friends go. No matter whether they stay one week or one month, it always seems a day too long. 

This year, as your holiday gift to everyone, you are going to arrange it so that holiday entertaining and hosting visitors will feel one day too short!

The key is to make family and friends feel like honored guests and a part of your family - all at the same time. Some trick, huh? Not really.

All it takes is some planning to make everything guest ready. Here are a few tips for surviving - and even thriving - during a holiday visit from family or friends. 

  1.  When Hosting Overnight Guests, Plan Every Aspect of the Visit in Advance

Pretend like they're guests in your luxury hotel and figure out ways to make their stay memorable.

You probably only see your family or old friends a couple times a year.

Pretend like they're guests in your luxury hotel and figure out ways to make their stay memorable.

A gracious host looks at - and plans for - every aspect of the holiday visit in advance.

  2.  When Hosting Overnight Guests, Do Everything Possible to Provide Guests With a Private Bedroom

Even if you have to dislodge a couple of kids, your special guests should have a cozy bedroom with a door, and preferably a private bath.

If that setup - or a spare bedroom - simply isn't in the (house) cards, get tips for guests staying in common areas here.

  3.  Serve Up Thoughtful Guest Room Amenities

Realize that they may not be accustomed to little ones (or big ones for that matter) 24/7 and transform their guest bedroom into a retreat reminiscent of your favorite five-star hotel.

When hosting overnight guests, think about the big and little luxuries: a basket of fruit, a small but well-chosen selection of books or magazines, a comfy chair and reading lamp, maybe even a mini-fridge.

Give them a place to hide out. You may enjoy it more than they do. 

  4. Give the Guest Bathroom the Spa Treatment

Turn your guest bathroom into a holiday spa. Deck the bath out with velvety mini-bath treats, and finish the spa-like ambiance with a spice-scented tub-side candle.

  5.  Keep Entertaining Plans Light

Don't plan every minute of their visit but do have some ideas to present to them upon their arrival. Give them brochures to peruse.

Sit down with them on the first day and discuss the days ahead and your family's daily schedule. When does everyone usually get up? Go to bed? When do you run errands? Go shopping? They'll want to know as this will just help them get oriented and comfortable quicker.

They can pick and choose the things they would like to do with you, and when they want to go their own way.

  6.  Define "Dining" in Your Home 

When is breakfast? Is lunch a do-it-yourself affair? Give them some dinner choices. Find out what foods they like, can't eat. As you know, things do change with the passage of time...

  7.  Talk Transportation with Your Guests

Do your family and friends like tooling about by themselves? Can you lend them one of your cars? If not, announce your availability as a chauffeur for any errands they may need to run. And don't insist on providing "things" they need to pick up at the store. ("Oh, you don't need to go to the store, Dad! I have aspirin!")

Sometimes they just want to get out of the house and poke around. Volunteer the item, but realize they may just want to go to the store. Being a guest without a car can be very confining.

Sneak away after dinner alone or with the kids and turn down the bed and lay a special chocolate on their pillows.

  8.  Add Fun Extras in Addition to the Guest Room Essentials

Offer 'turn-down' service at night. Sneak away after dinner alone or with the kids and turn down the bed and lay a special chocolate on their pillows.

Replace their towels every day. Get the kids to kick in their services as the bellhops (though tips could be required). 

But don't get so into the pampering that you forget they're family (or like family) and want to feel like part of your family.

  9.  Accept Help - Sensitively

If your mother-in-law asks if she can 'help', she may just be being polite. Offer her an easy task such as arranging flowers and see how enthusiastically she attacks the chore.

But if she just goes through the motions, let her off the hook.

But if she offers a specific duty - such as 'May I help set the table?' or 'May I make cookies?' the offer is probably sincere. Of course, you can ask your own mom to do anything.

  10.  Limit Other Guests

Your family and friends came to see you, not your next-door neighbors. Keep the entertaining focus on them.

  11.  Give Guests Time With Your Kids

It's hard for grandparents to get to know their grandkids if you are constantly in the middle. Give yourself a time-out.

Let Grandpa take the 'tweens to a movie. Let Grandma take Sissy shopping just the two of them. 

  12.  And Reserve Some Parent/Adult Child Time, Too

They love their grandkids, but you're their pride and joy. Have some adult time together. Treat yourselves to some dinners with minimal distractions when you can actually finish a sentence. 

Final advice? Work as a team with your spouse. If it's your parents or friends visiting, he will feel defensive about their shortcomings. If your parents or friends are visiting, you'll be the one feeling divided. When you see your spouse getting stressed out with the in-laws or friends, step in and rescue him. Hopefully, he will do the same for you. 

Follow these steps and who knows? Your family or friends may never want to leave. (Just kidding!)

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