How to Be a Great Overnight Host (4 BASIC tips)

Having friends and family stay overnight at your home can make for some of the best memories. There’s nothing like finishing a home-cooked meal and knowing that you can sit back, relax, and swap stories for the remainder of the night – usually in the comfort of pajamas.

However, before these moments of relaxation occur, there are often several days of harried preparation. You want your home to represent your best self and for your guests to have an enjoyable time under your roof. These tips and strategies will help you create a home-away-from-home to help everyone relax and enjoy themselves.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

In the week leading up to your guests’ stay, inquire as to any particular foods or drinks you can have on hand for your guests’ enjoyment. Some people love to start their day with a cup of coffee, but if you’re not a coffee drinker yourself, you may want to purchase iced coffee or instant coffee for your guests. If you plan on serving wine, you can ask whether your guests prefer red or white wine, and if they have kids, you can ask if the children drink a certain type of milk or juice.

It’s always a good idea to ask whether anyone has food allergies or dietary restrictions, and if you’re planning on cooking at home, you can ask whether there are any particular foods that your guests dislike. No one wants the embarrassment of serving grilled salmon to people who dislike fish or an alfredo dish to someone who is lactose intolerant.

The Grand Tour

One immediate way to make your guests feel at home is to give them a personalized tour of your home. As you visit each room, stop to show them information about the organization of the house you wouldn’t normally give to regular visitors. For example, show guests where they can find extra blankets in the hidden storage in the ottoman, or where they can place their dirty laundry. In the kitchen, show that coffee lover where to find the mugs and the mom where she can find the plastic cups for her kids. Even pointing out light switches and warning others about doors that stick can make a person feel better about living in someone else’s home, even if only for a few days.

The Bedroom and the Bathroom

This is where you can imitate the best of the best hotels. Be sure to have your guests’ bed(s) ready for them before they arrive. It’s funny, but also fun, to have a mint or chocolate on the pillow, and you can play up the hotel experience even more by writing your home’s WiFi password on a small notecard and placing it on a nearby nightstand or desk. It’s also nice to leave an extra blanket in the room and, if you have one, tell guests how to turn on the ceiling fan.

On a chair or at the end of the bed, it’s also a good idea to leave out any towels your guests may need. This includes a washcloth, face towel, and bath towel. If you have a decorative container, fill it with travel-sized soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and lotions that your guests may want to use. In fact, you can collect these over time during your own hotel stays, and then bring them out for the guests who stay with you. Near the sink, be sure to have tissues and toothpaste, and double check that you have extra rolls of toilet paper for guests to access as well. Other nice touches include having a hair dryer, Q-tips, and nightlights available.

Scheduling Savvy

Every family operates on its own internal time schedule. Often guests can feel hesitant to disrupt that schedule, so be open and upfront about how your day normally goes. Ask your guest what time he or she typically wakes up; that way, you haven’t planned a day’s worth of activities that start at 8 am, when your guest normally rolls out of bed around 9.

While some compromises may need to be met, much confusion and awkward feelings can be avoided just knowing people’s normal routines. For instance, if your guest knows ahead of time that you go to bed at 10 pm, but that she’s welcome to stay up reading in the family room, she’ll feel less awkward about doing just that. If your brother’s kids wake up at the crack of dawn, he’ll feel better knowing he can take the kids to the basement to play until the rest of the household awakens. Being aware of these daily details will ensure a smooth visit filled with great memories.