Getting our home ready for guests

7 November 2017

Cast about on Pinterest and you’ll very quickly find exhaustive (and exhausting!) lists about what to include in a guest room. Some of them are helpful, but many go a little overboard, I think! It’s important to remember our guests aren’t coming to us because we’re the Ritz-Carlton — they’re coming to us to enjoy our company, and gracious hospitality is an added bonus.

With all of our family living at least a state away, we’re no strangers to house guests. As we approach the holidays, here are the few of the things we’ve done (and some that we’d like to do!) that have made their stays comfortable and special…

cheerful guest room

1. Hang a mirror in the bedroom. If, as in our home, a few bedrooms share the same bathroom, it’s great to have mirrors in the bedrooms to cut down on morning congestion — that way, gals can do their makeup, etc. without delaying showers. I’m hoping to hang this one in our main guest room (above) before our Christmas guests arrive!
2. Set out a few essentials. Your guest bathroom doesn’t need to function as a pharmacy, but it’s nice to stock a few things guests may have forgotten either on the counter or in a drawer: a toothbrush, toothpaste, tampons (those can go in the drawer, ha!), Q-tips, a shower cap, etc. We keep larger pump bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in the shower instead of using and tossing bar soap every time. Don’t forget to keep a few extra rolls of toilet paper where guests can easily find them! And to REALLY be prepared for everything, always have one of these within arm’s reach — your guests will thank you!!

3. Add greenery. Because of their fleetingness, a bud vase of blooms or clipped greenery from your neighborhood says “I thought of you and I’m excited you’re here” like nothing else.
4. Make space. Clear a few hangers in the closet and empty out a drawer if there’s a dresser in the room. Until I had a child I NEVER unpacked anywhere, but now that we usually share a suitcase, it’s so much nicer to get things organized in a drawer, even if we’re only staying for a day or two!
5. Hang them up. Right now, our guest bath has three towel bars, which seems generous, but when 6+ people are sharing the bathroom, space runs out quickly. Before Christmas, I’m hoping to remove one of the bars and add hooks, instead, to give everyone a place to dry their towels! My Parisienne heart kind of loves these ones.
6. Light the way. Especially if you have older guests (or much younger ones!), add a nightlight or two to the hallway for nighttime bathroom runs.

7. Stock their room. Set out folded towels before they arrive. Tuck an extra blanket and extra pillows in the closet. Keep a box of tissues on the nightstand and a little wastebasket in the corner. Add a stack of a few of your favorite books or magazines. Write out the wi-fi password on a post-it note, or pop it in a little frame if you’re feeling fancy.
8. Make it comfy. We recently purchased this fluffy mattress topper for our “blue bedroom,” and for $60 it has made that room’s overly-firm mattress SO much comfier. Five stars.
9. Pack some snacks. If you don’t think your guests will be comfortable rummaging through your pantry (not a problem with my family, ha!), set out a basket or tray with a few snacks on your counter: granola bars, bananas, apples, clementines, trail mix, little bags of Pirate’s Booty…
10. Leave the light on. Finally, if your guests are arriving in the evening, I think one of the loveliest touches is turning on a bedside lamp in their room to greet them. There’s nothing like a soft, warm glow to set a cozy tone.

Before I leave you, it has to be said: when we first moved to our house, our guest bedrooms were largely empty, and the thought of rounding up eight pillows to sleep all of our family members when they came for Christmas was daunting (and required stretching the budget to secure one for each person, let alone extras!).

Your guests don’t expect anything close to perfection; they just want to spend time with you. Hopefully some of these ideas are helpful, but know that all of them are overshadowed by a kind, warm, engaged hostess – you!! It’s not about being fancy or photographable, it’s about setting the scene for a relaxed, memorable visit with the ones you love. Let that guide your preparations, and you’ll be golden.

Any other tips to add? I know there are so many more! My friend left a water carafe on my bedside table when I visited her last year, and it made me feel so chic! :)

P.S. We always make our guests sign our guest book — there is a strong tradition of guest books in our family!

Photos by Anna Routh from our last home tour. Affiliate links are used in this post!

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November 7, 2017 5:16 pm

Your guest room looks so lovely and welcoming. It is just perfect. In our old home we had a guest room, but when we got our new house, we downsized to be in a better school district. For the 5 of us, we’re in a 3 bedroom house. I think it works out though because when family comes to visit they can stay with my family just a few miles away.

November 7, 2017 10:40 pm

Yes!!! Pillow topper!!!

November 9, 2017 12:01 pm

I’ve been looking for a good mattress topper for our too firm mattress. Ordering now – thanks for the tip! :)

November 9, 2017 1:58 pm

This post is so nice! We are travelling for xmas and I wish that there was a room like this for us to stay in!!