How to Host Holiday Guests (and Actually Enjoy the Visit)

Expert tips on meeting your guests' every need—and scheduling time for yourself

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The Guest Room

The guest room needn’t resemble a suite at the Ritz (you want your guests to leave eventually, right?), but you can go beyond the basics without investing in a complete overhaul. In her 2012 book The Art of the Visit, Kathy Bertone says an alarm clock, bottled water, a luggage rack and a visible surge protector (so your guests don’t have to go hunting behind furniture to charge their phones) will go a long way toward making them feel welcome.


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The Bathroom

You already know to put extra towels in the bathroom, but make sure there are enough hooks to hold them. And if you’re going to provide bath products for your guests, consider buying organic. “With fewer chemicals in the products, you cut down on the risk of an allergic reaction,” says Ellen Swandiak of


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Around the House

After your guests settle in, Bertone recommends showing them how to adjust the heat or air conditioning in their room and how to disarm the security system. That way, they’ll feel as if they can come and go as they please and won’t need to wake you in the middle of the night if they’re uncomfortable.


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The Kitchen

Make mornings less hectic with single-serving coffee packets, says Swandiak. Let guests know that you won’t be constantly brewing a new pot but that they’re welcome to help themselves. 


Photo: Mrsiraphol/

Planning Ahead

There’s no need to plan every minute of your guests’ visit. Lynn Easton of Easton Events recommends coming up with just one activity per day. “If you have extra time, go walk the dog,” she says. “It really is about being together and no one wants to feel overscheduled.” 


Photo: Halfpoint/

Time for You

Everyone needs a little space, including your guests. Whether you have work to do or just need to be alone, just make your expectations clear. “Print out a list of things to do around town, give them the keys to your car and tell them to have fun,” says Easton. “And be sure to let them know how much work time you need to make that deadline you’re under.”


Photo: Ariwasabi/


Next: 7 Page Turners for Travel Delays

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