Christmas and New Year’s both fall on weekends this year, which means the festivities will be extra-festive — and house guests may be inclined to stick around a bit longer than usual. But the thought of lingering house guests doesn’t have to strike fear in the hearts of hosts and hostesses. Rather, these six tips can help you provide a happy “home away from home” for guests…with minimal stress for yourself, too.
1. Do the math.
Are you expecting just the usual crowd this year or are there newcomers on your guest list? Have any of your regulars added new family members of either the two-legged or four-legged variety between when you last gathered? Evaluating exactly who is coming and when can help ensure that you’re adequately prepared for everything from beds to dining table chairs.
While keeping track of everyone’s comings and goings can feel like busywork, you’ll be grateful for these details when the holiday hustle picks up. If you’re attending to train station or airport pickups and departures, meanwhile, checking and double-checking times and dates can ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
2. Outfit gracious guest rooms.
You don’t have to offer all of the luxuries of a four-star hotel, but certain essentials can help guests feel comfortable. Fresh sheets and blankets, wastebasket, clean bath towels, functional lights and a clock, clean towels, a cleared out drawer, shelf, or hanging closet space (with hangers!), and available outlets for devices are all modern-day must-haves.
If you’re looking to deliver an above-and-beyond guest experience, special touches like gourmet chocolates and other holiday food gifts, fluffy slippers and reading materials suited to their individual tastes can take any room from ordinary to extraordinary.
Experts swear by one simple trick for determining whether a guest room is worthy of overnight guests: Spending a night there yourself at least once every season to better understand everything from temperature to lighting concerns which may vary depending on the weather and time of year.
3. Be an informed host.
All hosts know that there’s nothing worse than being caught off guard by unexpected dietary restrictions or other issues. Rather than waiting for guests to volunteer key issues, reach out in advance to determine if there are any additional preparations to make.
You don’t have to empty your fridge and pantry of all dairy, meat and egg products if you’re hosting a vegan, but you can pick up a few vegan-friendly items to have on hand.
If you’re expecting guests with small children, meanwhile, stocking up on kid-friendly supplies can help set everyone at ease.
4. Plan ahead…and share your plans with your guests.
Whether you schedule a caroling excursion through your quaint downtown area or a driving tour of the neighborhoods with the best holiday lights displays, don’t forget to inform guests of the agenda so they can plan (and pack) accordingly. It can also be helpful to check in with guests in advance to determine if there are any things, in particular, they’d like to see or do during their visit.
Just remember: No activities are mandatory. After all, just because you think that Christmas Eve “Jingle Bell 15K” sounds like a jolly good time doesn’t mean everyone else will.
Also, be sure to schedule plenty of free time as well as downtime — particularly on travel days. Your guests may arrive tired, hungry or simply in need of a break. Avoid shepherding them back out the door the second they arrive.
Inviting guest for a welcome breakfast or brunch can also help you kick things off in style. Whether you have a sit-down meal at a scheduled time or lay out a spread for guests to nosh on at their leisure, offering a gourmet breakfast adds a festive touch.
5. Start with a warm welcome.
On that note, how you greet guests sets the tone for their entire stay. Be sure to have food and drink at the ready when they walk in the door. Even early-morning and late-night arrivals may be hungry or thirsty so snacks and drinks are essential. Rooms should be warm, lit and easily accessible. Provide a quick tour of your house, with stops at the kitchen, bathroom, and guest accommodations.
This is also a good time to empower guests to feel at home by providing instructions on everything from how to use the coffee maker to Wi-Fi passwords. If your home has any quirks, meanwhile, take some time to point those out, as well. Anyone who’s ever stripped down to a towel before realizing they had no idea how to turn on the hot water can understand why this matters.
6. Take time to declutter.
Even the addition of just one extra person and their belongings can feel like overload if you don’t have enough space. Whether your guests are just coming for dinner or staying overnight, make sure all spaces, including your entryway, are clear of aesthetically displeasing clutter.
And don’t forget the bathroom! After all, a filled-to-the-brim medicine cabinet or bathtub cluttered with kids’ toys is the opposite of inviting. Stock up on toilet paper and extra toiletries, in case your guests have forgotten them.
Anyone who’s ever had a bad experience as a house guest knows just how wrong things can go. Conversely, even the most thoughtful hosts and hostesses have endured cringe-worthy blunders of their own. These six tips can help ensure that this year’s holiday hosting experience is a positive one for everyone. Shop foods guaranteed to please even the pickiest houseguests at FoodyDirect today.