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How to Be a Good Holidays Host

Updated on October 24, 2011

Overnight guests are as much a part of the holidays as cooking and gift giving. It gives you a chance to spend relaxing time with family and friends, without the stress of the holidays hanging over your head. Hosting overnight guests can also be overwhelming, especially if do not plan ahead. Learn what you need to do and how to do it, before your guests arrive.

Be Honest

Be honest with your guests and with yourself. Before you invite any guests to spend the night, take stock of your home. While you might not want to disappoint anyone, you only have a limited amount of space. Take into account the accommodations you have and the ones you use. You might have four beds, but your family needs all four beds. Tell your family right away how much room you have available for overnight guests.

Take Stock

Decide ahead of time how you plan to arrange your overnight guests. It sounds simple if you have a guest room, but it’s not so simple if you have limited space. Consider setting up an inflatable air mattress in the living room for kids and giving their bedroom to your parents. Or, sleep on a pull-out couch and give up your own bed for your in-laws. Take the guess work out of where everyone sleeps by making those decisions ahead of time.

Guest Room Basics

If you have a dedicated guest bedroom, make the space inviting. Change the sheets and bedding if you have not done it in awhile. Open the windows and let the room air out. Arrange a cluster of candles on the dresser with a small lighter or book of matches. Clear the drawers and closet of any clutter and hang empty hangers, which gives your guests room for this own clothing and personal effects. Stack several books or magazines on the nightstand, in case your guests have any downtime.

Welcoming Atmosphere

Make guests feel welcome in your home, from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. If you make plans for any events during their stay, notify them in advance. Some guests might not appreciate going to your son’s basketball game and depending on the budget, might not have money for expensive shows or dinners. Give your guests the option of attending or staying home. Keep in mind that your guests might expect you to cover their expensive if you do special events.

Be Gracious...To a Fault

When you invite people to spend the night in your home, you are inviting them into your life and a part of your life that might not otherwise see. If you have any rules that your household follows, make sure you inform your guests. It isn’t fair to ban your kids from using cell phones at the table, but let a nephew text during a meal. Be gracious and welcoming to your guests, but inform them of your rules. For example, tell your family that you appreciate them being there, but you do not appreciate phone calls at the table.


Your guests expect meals served, even during the holidays. Explain what meals you plan on making, but keep your refrigerator and pantry stocked. Invite guests to make their own snacks and other meals, especially if you find yourself running errands or otherwise gone from the house. A basket of single-serving snacks can make your guests feel more welcome.


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