Holiday Checklist: Welcoming Out-of-Town Guests

Prep your house for holiday guests with this checklist

Company’s coming. Is your home ready?

With the holidays fast approaching—and friends and family on their way—you may wonder how you’ll ever get everything done. We know this all too well: when you live near the country’s busiest airport, overnight guests are a given! We’ve come up with a comprehensive checklist as a quick reminder of what we still need to do and what (thankfully) we’ve already accomplished. We’re sharing it with you in hopes that it can help you have a happy, stress-free visit with your guests.

Prep your house for holiday guests with this checklist

Planning Ahead

Planning ahead doesn’t just mean having your house clean and your holiday decorations in place, remember to consider your guests’ needs before they arrive!

  • If your guests are driving, do they have good directions? If they’re flying, make seamless arrangements for picking them up.
  • Consider your schedule while you’re hosting someone. If you have a commitment that can’t include your guests, be sure to provide plenty of in-home entertainment or plan to drop them off at a museum, movie or other attraction while you take care of your appointment.
  • Is your home appropriate for any special needs guests may have? Do you need to do some quick childproofing? Will stairs be a problem? Are there any dietary restrictions to consider? Talk to your guests ahead of time to find out.


Guest Quarters

Whether your guest room is a dedicated space or a cozy corner in your home office, make it as inviting as possible.

  • Fresh linens are a given and extra pillows are appreciated. It’s always nice to have a stocked linen closet or armoire with plenty of blankets and a combination of firm, fluffy and squishy pillows, so they can have their pick! A storage ottoman or bench provides handy seating plus a convenient place to stow spare blankets.
  • Where will your guests put their belongings? Clear out space in the dresser, closet or armoire; or add a hat rack, hooks or a luggage stand.
  • If your guest room doubles as the home office, be sure your out-of-towners are greeted with a serene space. Stash your paperwork and keep your workspace clutter-free.
  • Many people like to read before bed. Help your overnight guests unwind with appropriate lighting and a well-stocked magazine rack and a selection of good books.
  • Free up an outlet for chargers for various tech gadgets. Leave a little note on how to access the Wi-Fi.
  • And once you think you’ve thought of everything, give it the ultimate test: sleep in your own guest room. Anything you wish for—an alarm clock, mirror, fresh water—will probably be appreciated by your guests, as well.

Prep your house for holiday guests with this checklist

The Rest of the House

Of course you want your entire home to look its best and to feel as comfortable and inviting to your guests as possible.

  • Rely on a professional cleaning service to give your home a deep cleaning right before the holidays. And let this be a time to treat yourself to those decorating items you’ve been contemplating—a new tablecloth, slipcover, rug or chandelier shades.
  • Stock every bathroom with plenty of towels and a variety of toiletries. A floral arrangement is a thoughtful touch, as are comfy slippers and a robe.
  • With extra people in the house, consider how meals will take place. If mornings will be hectic, does breakfast need to be in shifts? When everyone gathers to eat, do you have enough tables and chairs?
  • Who doesn’t appreciate a pantry stocked with favorite foods, easy snacks and beverages (of the non-alcoholic and alcoholic variety)? Make sure your guests feel comfortable to help themselves to anything in the kitchen. Fresh clementines and a variety of teas are two of our favorite winter snacks!
  • Leave a dish of treats out, like candy canes or little chocolates. It is the holidays, after all.
  • Be aware that, while you can safely navigate your home blind-folded, guests will be glad to have strategically placed nightlights around the house.
  • If you set an alarm system, be sure to alert your guests. Otherwise, slipping out for an early morning walk could turn into an embarrassment.

Did we miss anything? Share your own helpful tips for welcoming overnight guests in the comments below.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.