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  • Writer's pictureCathy Hertler

Hospitality Tips to Get Guest-Ready for the Holidays

’Tis the season for holiday guests, and while you’d rather be settled in for a long winter’s nap, you’re probably fretting about how to get the house ready for visitors. First of all, don’t get as nervous as a kid who knows they’re on Santa’s Naughty List. Your guests are coming to enjoy your company and celebrate the holidays … not run a white glove over your mantel. Instead, step through your rooms one by one and focus on what matters most.


Around the House Wouldn’t it be nice if your house looked like a Pottery Barn catalog come to life? Sure. But don’t put that pressure on yourself. A clean and tidy home is what’s most important to your guests.

  • Declutter. No amount of furniture polish or holiday décor will overcome clutter, making this the most important step. Put away the laundry, recycle old magazines and newspapers, clear off counters and tables, and have kids put away their toys. Your holiday decorations will then take center stage, and you’ll feel more relaxed!

  • Frame it. Want to add a fancy bed-and-breakfast touch and provide an insanely helpful reference for your guests? Put your wifi password in a pretty picture frame and prop it in an easy-to-find location.

  • Keep it clean. Deep clean the house before guests arrive, or if you’re short on time, hire a housecleaning service to clean for a day. (Pay special attention to sanitizing the kitchen and bathrooms.) Once your guests arrive, don’t become obsessed with housekeeping, but stay on top of messes and minor chores. Wipe down sinks, give floors a quick sweep, and keep the vacuum handy.


The Guest Room

This is where your guests will sleep, dress, and retreat when they’re worn out from all the festivities, so make it as a comfortable and relaxing as you can. If you’re repurposing a child’s bedroom for the duration of the stay, stash toys and other clutter in plastic bins under the bed, and make sure your child understands the rules about entering the room while your guests are in residence. Things you’ll want to have ready are:

  • Plenty of pillows

  • Clean linens

  • Extra blankets

  • Reading lamp

  • Phone charging station

  • Trash can

  • Tissue box

  • Over-the-door hooks (no one likes a wet towel on the bed!)

  • Space in the closet to hang clothes


The Guest Bathroom The biggest task for preparing this room is obviously cleaning and sanitizing. Stock it with antibacterial wipes for quick touch-ups while your guests are there, and give it a good deep cleaning before and after their stay. Must-haves for this room include:

  • Extra towels, including washcloths

  • Toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, cotton swabs, and anything else your guests may have forgotten (You can store them in a cute basket!)

  • Hand soap and extra toilet paper

  • Robes for each guest, if you’re feeling fancy


In the Kitchen

Before your guests arrive, be sure you ask them about any dietary needs. This can also be a chance to make a general meal plan and shopping list, so you won’t have to make multiple runs to the store. Beyond that, just make it as easy as possible for your guests to feel at home.

  • Show them around. Make sure they know where dishes and cutlery are so they can help themselves to drinks and snacks.

  • Coffee. Even if you’re not a coffee person, you know many people can’t get moving without their morning cup of joe. Find out what kind of coffee (and condiments) your guests prefer and keep them stocked. Show guests how to run the coffee maker in case they’re up and about before you are.

  • Make meals easy. Prep a breakfast casserole that can be warmed up the next morning. Get a box of bagels and shmears. Plan easy meals like burgers, chili, or pasta that won’t keep you in the kitchen and away from your guests too long. They’re here to visit … not to watch you slave over your stove!

  • Stock up on snacks. Everyone likes snacks, and it will be nice to have grab-and-go options if you’re heading out shopping or to see the sights. If you're hosting kids, ask their parents what their go-to snacks are and put them in an easily accessible place.


When You’re Not There Odds are there will be some times when you and your guests will be occupied with different things, especially if you have to work. A little planning ahead of time will make it easier for you to get out for last-minute shopping or for them to duck out for sightseeing.

  • Demystify your tech. Have you ever been left alone in someone’s living room and tried to turn the TV on? It can be so frustrating! If you have a complicated setup, type out some instructions, or give a thorough tutorial.

  • Keys and alarms. Don’t forget to give them alarm codes! And have an extra set of keys so visitors can come and go, especially if they want to explore the area while you’re at work or busy with other tasks.

  • Think like a tourist. You know there are cool things to see in your area or unique restaurants to enjoy. But you’ve seen and done it all, and when your guest asks, “What are the can’t-miss attractions?” you may draw a complete blank. While you’re prepping the house, think about what you’d like to know if you were new in town!


What If There’s No (Guest) Room at the Inn?

Not everyone has a spare room, but that’s no reason to say no to holiday guests. (Unless, of course, you just really aren’t equipped to host them.) Make sure they’re okay with the cramped quarters, and then prepare for a full house. (Hey, sometimes more really is merrier!)

  • If your couch isn’t big enough or comfortable enough for sleeping, get a good quality air mattress. Get the best model you can afford. There really is a difference in quality!

  • Make a place for luggage to be stowed.

  • Clear some room in the bathroom, or provide a tote so everyone can come and go with everything they need.

  • Make a spot for charging phones, tablets, and laptops.

  • Provide an area for them to put away clothes, if you have room.

  • Be considerate of their schedule, without compromising yours. Communicate when you need quiet time for sleep or work, but try to be accepting if their hours are slightly off from yours.


Whatever you do, though, put relaxing and enjoying your company at the very top of your to-do list. Make wonderful holiday memories and take joy in being with those you love!

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