Everything Guide: Preparing Your Home to Make House Guests Feel Welcome

How to prepare your home for house guests

I enjoy having guests at my house, but I don't love all the prep that goes along with hosting. So I've assembled 8 essential tips for whipping your home into shape so you don't waste your whole day preparing, and your guests feel welcome and comfortable.  


1. Welcome your guests with fresh flowers. A bouquet adds a cheery touch to your space, and your your guests will appreciate the extra effort you put in. And you don't have to spend a fortune at the flower shop - the lilies above were $5.99 at my local grocery store! Or pick a few buds from your backyard if it's not the dead of winter. 

2. Create self-serve snack trays. Guests may not want to ask for food, but odds are they'll be hungry after a long day of traveling. Place a variety of snacks out in plain view so they can help themselves.  

3. Provide extra blankets. When I'm traveling, I don't want to bug my host with a million questions - but I'm always cold whether I'm in sunny Florida or chilly Vermont. And I know I'm not the only one... so be sure to leave extra blankets and throws in both the living room and the guest bedroom so your visitors don't have to ask for them. 

4. Leave out some reading material. Are your friends big readers? Put a couple of your favorite books on the dresser for them to delve into. Magazines are a nice touch as well, especially for those lazy Sunday mornings. 

5. Provide extra toiletries. Whether they forgot something, or they didn't have enough space... your guests are sure to appreciate a thoughtful arrangement of mini toiletries. And you won't have to transport your own bottle of body wash from bathroom to bathroom every morning.

Tip: Try adding a personal touch... does your friend love to do at-home manicures? Leave mini bottles of nail polish and remover for her. 

6. Ensure that your guests have plenty of extra space. Make sure you provide empty hooks to hang wet towels, as well as an empty drawer and some empty closet space so they can hang up their clothing. There's nothing worse than trying to fit the contents of your suitcase into a cramped, cluttered space!

7. Make room for the essentials. Ensure that the bedside table has a reading light, a bottle of water and tissues... a jewelry dish can also be a nice touch. And don't forget a to leave a treat or two! 

8. Make a spare set of keys. If your visitors plan to be in and out, give them a spare key. This will give them a sense of independence, and it will eliminate the logistical nightmare of trying to coordinate schedules. 

Hopefully these ideas will help make your guests feel right at home. Do you have any other tips for preparing for house guests? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section!

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faith-towers on Jul 01, 2014:

Lots more great tips, thanks for weighing in everyone!

Liberty on Jun 30, 2014:

I think if you can think of what your particular guests tastes are then you'll make them feel more comfortable. For example, there's no point putting ordinary toothpaste in the guest bathroom if you know they have sensitive teeth and they would prefer toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Or no point putting lilium flowers in there if they have allergies! Might look pretty but the smell could give them headaches and they'll be sneezing all night and feeling uncomfortable about making a disturbance. Think of the person. Also think about yourself. Why leave chocolates in there if you have white linen.

Valerie (Kyriosity) on Feb 19, 2014:

7. Be creative with space. I only have 2 spare beds, but I have an extra futon matress that works great for kids (or limber adults) on the living room floor.

8. Post instructions for the coffee maker.

9. Post the wi-fi password.

10. Ask about food allergies. If they give you a list a mile long, and it's more than you can accommodate, it's OK to say something like, "I'm really not used to cooking that way, but you're welcome to use the kitchen. Let me know what basic grocery supplies I can have on hand for you."

11. Make little guests feel welcome. You don't have to perfectly childproof your whole house, but put the antique teacup collection out of reach for the time being. Have a few toys on hand. Matchbox cars and dollar store plastic animals won't take up much space, won't break the bank, and will work for a good range of ages.

12. Remember that it's about your guests, not about you, so lay down your expectations and idiosyncrasies. This is not the time to be neurotic about which way the toilet paper gets hung or how the recycling gets sorted.

Valerie (Kyriosity) on Feb 19, 2014:

1. Make sure there's an alarm clock in their room. Most people use their phones nowadays, but it's still useful to some, and it lets them see the time during the night.

2. Put a nightlight in the hallway so nobody has to grope their way to the bathroom.

3. Use sticky notes to help them find things in the kitchen and bathroom. E.g., when I had a family of 5 a few months ago, I labeled where each person's towels were (I only have one bathroom).

4. In the summertime, have an extra fan for guests. I live in a fairly cool climate, and I have a small a/c unit that cools the house pretty well, but if they want to shut their bedroom door, it can get a little stuffy.

5. Post instructions for how to use the thermostat.

6. A luggage rack is nice, but a straight-backed chair works in a pinch as a place to park a suitcase.

Bruno on Feb 19, 2014:

Great tips!

hilary on Feb 18, 2014:

These are all great tips but I think you left out the most important.  There's no point in primping with all the lovely details you've provided if your place isn't clean.  You just cant get away without putting in the time; you have to clean.  Your guests will feel much more welcome and like they didn't catch you at an overwhelmed time if your place is tidy and the bathroom is sparkly and the floors don't make your feet dirty. You can't cover up grime with flowers and a selection of good reads. 

If your guests won't be entertained by you 24/7 I think its always a good idea ot provide a neighborhood map along with the spare keys so they can catch the train, or go or for coffee, or a walk/run without waking you up to ask for directions. 

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