How to host and house guests for the holidays

If you just had a moment of panic because you remembered how many people are going to be in your house this holiday season, you’re probably not alone. Hosting guests for the holidays is a time-honored tradition, and as stressful as it can be—admit it!—it’s fun too. Here’s how to host your overnight houseguests like a pro this season.

Woman in children’s room while talking on the phone about hosting guests.

Avoid failure to communicate

It’s smart to talk with your guests before they arrive, especially if they will be there overnight. Confirm when they’re arriving, how long they plan to stay and if there’s anything they’d like to do while they’re in town. It’s also a good idea to ask about any special requirements, including transportation needs and food allergies.

Communication works both ways, of course. Although your role as a host is to provide for your guests and help them have a good time, that doesn’t mean you must completely derail your life on their behalf. Let your guests know if you have work or other commitments during their stay, and inform them of any household routines that must be adhered to (children’s bedtimes, for example). Fill them in about sleeping arrangements, and let them know if they’ll need to bring anything.

Woman placing folded towels on a bed to prepare for houseguests.

Get your house ready ahead of time

When it comes to getting your house in shape before guests arrive, the amount of energy you put into cleaning and decorating depends on your personal preferences, how discerning your guests might be and what state your house is in to begin with! That said, hosting a holiday party will require some preparation regardless, and if your guests are spending the night, you’ll probably want to put a little extra effort into the following:

  • Cleaning: You don’t have to scrub and dust every hidden corner of your house, but make sure kitchens, bathrooms and entryways are clean. Get rid of as much clutter as possible, and give the whole house a good sweeping and vacuuming. If you have a spare room where houseguests will be staying, make sure it’s clean and ready.
  • Sleeping arrangements: Put fresh bedding in the guest room, and have some extra blankets and pillows handy. Make sure all guests have a place to put their things, test air mattresses in advance and vacuum the couch if anyone will be sleeping on it (that includes under the cushions).
  • Provisions: Provide for your guests as best you can, but don’t transform your home into a five-star hotel. Have food in the fridge, clean towels in the closet and toiletries available as required, and also let your guests know that they’re welcome to bring anything they need or want for their stay.
  • Hosting: Try your best to make your guests feel comfortable and welcome, but keep in mind that going too far out of your way can sometimes make guests feel like a burden. If you plan trips and activities, allow for free time as well. Invite guests to be a part of your daily routine, and if they ask to help out, let them. Everybody likes to feel useful!

Have fun this holiday season! Hosting guests can be a big job, but the less you stress out about having houseguests, the more you’ll all enjoy each other’s company. And if your guests are visiting over Christmas, check out our ideas for decorating the tree!

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