Hosting Overnight Guests

When hosting overnight guests, help them to feel both like honored guests and part of the family.

We all love hosting overnight guests, but the holidays can be a tricky time to have them underfoot. You're busy, and the house is in an uproar. Follow these tips to ensure that your guests and your family have the best possible holiday experience together.

Help  Overnight Guests Feel at Home in Your Home

Wonderful! Your parents or friends are finally coming for the holidays. You want everything to be perfect so that they will come again. After all, they hate to travel. What can you do to make sure they feel at home in your home?

The most precious thing you can give your overnight guests is privacy. It's so awkward to be a guest - you feel on display, and you have no control over your situation.

Provide a little sanctuary for your guests - a retreat where they can go and regroup. The flip side of making your guests cozy in their rooms is that you and your family get an occasional breather as well. (You keep remembering why you moved so far away...)

Overnight guests need a quiet refuge - especially older people who aren't used to being around rambunctious youngsters. If you don't have a spare bedroom, kick one of the kids out of his or her room for the visit. (You can make it up to him later.)

Guests need a quiet refuge - especially older people who aren't used to being around rambunctious youngsters. 

Create a Cozy Guest Room

Here's how to equip a comfy, cozy guest room:

Bed with a hat.
  • Bed
  • Dresser. (Clear out a couple of drawers so they can unpack and get rid of their suitcases.)
  • Closet with hangers
  • Room to spread out: Clear floors and shelves of your stuff to make room for theirs.
  • PIllows: Foam or down? Ask their preference.
  • Extra blankets
  • Trashcan
  • Chair (if room)
  • Tissues


These aren't essential - but providing them might get you back in the will.

  • TV
  • Clock/radio
  • Reading lamp
  • Night light
  • Coffee pot and cups


These amenities are simply icing on the cake.

  • Vase of flowers
  • Basket of food (fruit, cookies, crackers, tea, and coffee)
  • Bottled water
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Pen and paper

  • Lint brush or roller
  • Laundry bag

Preparing a Guest Bathroom

If there is any way to give your guests their own bathroom, do it. No one likes sharing bathrooms with anyone outside the immediate family. Yeah, you love Uncle Ed - but do you really want to negotiate around his shaving supplies? Stock the guest bath with:

Bathroom outfitted with towels and guest treats.
  • Towels
  • Washcloths
  • Soaps
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Cups
  • Hand lotion
  • Disposable razor

  • Hair spray
  • Bath gels, salts, bubble bath. 

Advance Prep for Hosting Overnight Guests

Food:  Ask about food allergies, dislikes, or dietary restrictions. Buy snacks that they can help themselves to between meals. Cook ahead so you can spend time with your guests.

Bulldog in small red sweater.

Pets: How could anyone not love Fluffy? And Bruiser, who wouldn't hurt a fly? Tell that to Grandpa, who sneezes when you say "cat." Or to Aunt Annie, who's terrified of anything on four legs. 

Yes, this is your pets' home. But they have to make compromises, too. When hosting overnight guests, let them know, in advance, that you have a boa constrictor. They may decide that the nearest Embassy Suites would work better. If not, well, they were warned. 

That said, keep the animals confined during a guests' visit as much as possible. Dogs can get a bit territorial when strangers are wandering around the house in the dark. And you don't want your old friend Flora to be afraid to go to the bathroom at night. 

Keep Guests Informed

Knowledge is power. When hosting overnight guest, make a list of any planned activities  during the visit. Give them brochures on activities in your area, and a list of restaurants. Ask them to look at the information and let you know what they'd like to do during their stay.

And while you're at it, jot down your family's daily routine. What time do you usually get up for breakfast? Is it a serve-yourself affair? When are lunch and dinner? When do the kids usually take a nap? Do you go on afternoon walks? What time do you typically go to bed?

Make it clear they can adopt any routine they like, but at least they know what the rest of the family is up to. There's nothing worse than sitting in your room, wondering what the day holds in store for you. You want a guest, not a prisoner.

Give guests a tour:  If you don't want to be waiting on guests hand and foot, you'd better show them where everything is. Show them:

  • How to use the coffeemaker
  • Where the coffee and breakfast foods are kept
  • How to use the remote for the TV

Finally, when hosting overnight guests, make it a point to give guests their freedom. If you have a second car, let them poke around by themselves if they feel up to it. Give them a key to the house so they can go for a walk and get back inside.

Follow these tips for hosting overnight guests, and who knows? Your family or friends may never want to leave. (Just kidding!) But chances are a very good time will be had by all.

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