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With the holidays just over the river and through the woods, many of us are preparing to open up our humble abodes to Christmas guests—and some of us for the first time. Great hosts go beyond putting out a fresh set of towels. Hosting is all about helping your guests feel special and avoiding potentially awkward situations. 

But before you stress about the season ahead, know all it takes is a few special touches to create a welcoming place for your loved ones to land. Whether it’s the in-laws, your sister, or best friend from college coming to town, become the hostess with the mostest with these tips to making house guests feel right at home.

Create a Space of Their Own

A comfortable place to sleep is key when hosting, whether you have a guest room or just a sofa in the den. Prior to bedtime, make up the bed, air mattress, or couch with nice, fresh linens, and set out extra blankets and pillows for added comfort. Leave a phone charger on the nightstand in case they forgot their own. 

No one likes to live out of a suitcase. Clear out a drawer or few and shove aside old bridesmaid dresses in the closet to provide your guests plenty of space to put their things. No guest room? No problem. A foldable luggage rack comes in handy if there is no dresser, and is easy to store away when not in use.

Stock Bathroom Essentials

The first step to a guest-ready bathroom is declutter, declutter, declutter—especially if you have a shared space. A clean countertop, neatly hung towels, and a freshly scrubbed toilet sets the stage for welcoming comfort. Consider removing personal items such as the dirty clothes hamper and robe hanging from the door, and if you can, clear off a shelf or create drawer space so they can avoid hauling their toiletries back and forth.

Besides setting out the aforementioned fresh set of towels, make it a point to remember what your guest may have forgotten. A cup stocked with a new toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, and disposable razor already set out sink-side eliminates any quick corner store trips or awkward knocks on the door come bedtime. Keep essentials such as shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, and lotion on hand, and tuck a box of feminine products under the sink just in case.

Offer Small Comforts

When it comes to making guests feel warm and welcome, the little things go a long way. Show them they’re a delight to host and not an imposition. A short handwritten note in the guest room or sleep space, complete with the wifi password, is a nice touch. Before they arrive, stock the kitchen with some of their favorite snacks and drinks. Place a vase of fresh flowers on the nightstand and perhaps a good read or two to help them drift off to dreamland. 

We all know the pains of a morning without our cup of joe. Prepare for the early risers by setting up a coffee station. Pour beans or grounds in a jar, stack a few mugs, and slide over the sugar bowl so it’s all ready to go. For tricky coffeemakers, write out simple instructions or give a quick tutorial when your guests arrive. Bonus points: outfit the guest room with a small, personal Keurig machine so they can truly rise and shine on their own time. 

At the end of the day, don’t fret too hard. The joy of the holidays comes from sharing quality time together—whether or not the house is spotless. Just remember to anticipate your guests’ needs by stepping into their shoes to think about how you would want to be treated as a guest yourself. Opening your door is a generous act in itself. 

Still not sure your spare room stacks up? Design the perfect guest room in no time by getting started with our style quiz

Words by Avery Johnson