Tips on Being a Better Overnight Host

Most of us have played host before or stayed at a friend’s or family member’s home. But do some visits stand out more than others? In a good way, I mean. Some people are just more natural at comforting people; and some people may go a little overboard. Thinking back to the times friends and family have opened their homes to me, I remember several things that made me 1. think they’re creative and 2. notice how thoughtful (without being fussy) they were to make my time there easy and special.

Maybe this post is wishful thinking. I’ve been daydreaming about hosting guests for a dinner party or having out-of-town guests for the weekend. That hasn’t happened in months, and it’s not looking like it will happen soon. But if you’re like me, a little escape from reality and some enjoyable planning might take your mind off of the boredom at home. If anything, this post will give you another excuse to clean and organize.. how exciting.

Here are the things I like do to make my overnight guests a little more comfortable:

1. Show them how things work: Let them know of any weird quirks in your house. Does your ice machine work? Where do they get water? Is there an alarm system? Do you have pets or children with ‘odd’ habits? Do you not allow shoes in the house? No guest wants a laundry list of rules. The point is to quickly walk them through your space so they know where things are and don’t have to guess on how certain things work. Show them the bathroom, how they can make a quick cup of coffee, etc.

2. Give them time to unpack and respect their personal space: We all need time to ourselves to unwind, even if that just means knowing no one is waiting on you while you sit on a bed and scroll through your phone. Give your guests time alone to not only unpack and freshen up, but reset their minds. Unless plans have already been made, don’t rush guests the first couple hours when they’ve arrived. Some people are pumped to go out on the town, some need time to acclimate. And if your guest is staying multiple days, make sure you both have a hour or so each day to be alone. Allowing yourself and your guest time to handle personal matters (whether that be responding to emails, or just spending some time in the bathroom) will make the entire experience less stressful.

3. Graciously accept gifts: I would never expect a guest to bring me a gift, but I am bad at acting like a gift is so unnecessary that my guest might feel bad about bringing me something. So if you’re like me, be enthusiastic about a gift. You are saving your guest money on a hotel room, so a gift is not an unjustified action. If it is a candle, light it while the guest is there. If it is food or drink, ask your guest if they would like to share the food or drink with you. If they want to buy you dinner or pick up some groceries for you, let them.

4. Show them where extra toiletries and medicines are: I keep a basket or cart in our hall closet or bathroom that has most things a guest might need in the middle of the night or early morning. Think of items that a guest might not pack but you already have that would make their stay more comfortable. And also think about stuff that a guest might not be too comfortable asking you for. Items for stomach issues, female needs, etc.

What’s in the cart: Medicine: tums, pain relief, cough drops, Tylenol PM, melatonin, nighttime cold, anti-diarrhea, Pepto-bismol, B12. Beauty: Micellar water, unused deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, face wipes, moisturizer, unused razor, unused toothbrush, q-tips. Others: nail clippers, phone charger, stain remover, mints, assortment of band-aids, toilet paper.

5. Know if they have food allergies or restrictions: It’s awkward if you buy things for someone that they can’t eat; you both feel bad. So if you don’t know, it’s an easy question to ask. It’ll help plan your guest’s stay and any restaurant reservations you plan to make. It’s a simple thing, but if your guest has a true food allergy or restriction, it will make them feel so much better that you asked (instead of them telling you).

6. Have a breakfast station set up for them: This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it’s really nice to give your guests the option to quickly and quietly grab some food on their own. If they wake up in the middle of the night hungry or just naturally wake up earlier than you. A couple different granola bars, bread for toast and jelly, a couple packages of instant oatmeal, a bag of granola and fruit, or if you’re fancy, a few pastries from a local bakery. Just one of these would be enough to make your guest feel more comfortable. I usually have coffee, a couple options for tea, sugar, and milk ready for guests as well. You don’t need to fuss about the kinds you have, unless you’re actually concerned about your guest’s dietary restrictions. If you only have Splenda at home, you don’t need to go buy regular sugar. If you only have almond milk, you don’t also need to pick up cow’s milk and oat milk. You want your guest to feel like you care, but not that you’re running all over town to keep them happy.

Granola, fruit, coffee, and tea. Plus milk in the refrigerator

7. Clear out space in a closet and hang some empty hangers: This is such an easy example I never thought of until I had a friend do it for me. Personally, I like unpacking and organizing my clothes when I travel and having easy access to a few hangers is such a nice touch. Because we don’t have an extra bedroom, I just clear out some space in our coat closet with several empty hangers. It gives guests a little more personal space and it allows them to be respectful and keep their space tidy.

8. Don’t make them open something new: This might be a weird personal obstacle, but I hate opening something new at someone’s house. “What if this is a gift? What if they’re saving this for something special?” It could literally be a pint of milk or a box of Keurig pods, but I’d rather go without than mess up someone’s gift, recipe, whatever. So just make sure if you bought something you plan on your guest using, it’s open or they know to use it. That goes for breakfast items, toiletries, snacks, etc. And the opposite is true too. If there’s something that you are saving, move it or say so. Waking up and seeing a $90 bottle of wine open from the night before that you’ve been saving for months is not a great way to share your morning with someone.

9. Show them where extra blankets and pillows are: And in general, make sure they can easily adjust the temperature. Show them where the thermostat is, how to open or close a window, whatever they need to slightly adjust the temperature. The temperature we are comfortable in might be miserable for guests, so get a feel of what they need for sleep and give them the options to adjust without you taking care of them. People often say they’re just fine to not inconvenience the host, but giving the guests the options to make themselves comfortable will create a nicer environment.

10. Have towels already laid out for them: This is straightforward. Just have a couple body towels and hand towels laid on their bed or by their bed when they arrive, so they know what to use. It’s a really simple way to look organized.

11. Prep your pets: I feel like this is one of the most common issues I see. And it’s more so with dogs. But first, make sure your guests aren’t allergic to your pets. Secondly, if you have a hyper, skittish, or aggressive pet, just give your guest a heads up. Usually if your guest is calm and prepared when they arrive, your pet will calm faster. When appropriate, let your guest know to not feed your pet certain things as needed. And lastly and the biggest one, make sure your pet can’t bother your guests while they sleep. This isn’t so much of an issue if you have a guest room with a door, but I had one bad experience where I was sleeping in the living room and my friends’ animals did not leave me alone all night. The cat knocked over my glass of water in the middle of the night and the dog wanted to stand on the air-up mattress every hour. So just be aware that your pet’s normal nighttime roaming habits might need to be adjusted if you have guests.

12. Prepare for a late evening of good conversation: My best memories when I’ve stayed at someone’s home is usually after dinner, around their kitchen table. If you don’t drink alcohol, having a couple options of coffee or tea (caffeine free or not) gives you an opportunity to cozy up in the kitchen and chat. If you do drink, grab a couple bottles of wine or a bottle of liquor to sip on. Something easy and slow to wind down the night (or not, depending on how much you drink). Know yourself and your guests. But not having that option sucks sometimes. Drinking a glass of water and talking about your lives isn’t quite the same.

And there you have it, some simple and super affordable ways to better plan for guests. Hopefully you will get to host someone soon and use some of these tips. Do you have any tricks and tips for when you have guests over? Have you ever had a family member or friend make a stay extra special? Let us know!

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