How to be a gracious hostess to overnight guests

Last fall, I shared tips on how to be a fabulous hostess for dinner parties. With summer upon us, you may find yourself hosting overnight guests. Whether it’s friends or family, hosting overnight guests can be tricky. Follow these recommendations, and hopefully your visit will go off smoothly. (Quick disclosure, I did find these fabulous posts from Simple Mom and Classy and Fabulous).

1. Prepare your guest for their living situation. If at all possible, provide a private area for your guest. If you have a guest room, this is easy. However, you may not. If that is the case, be sure to set that expectation with your guest so they are prepared – ear plugs, more modest sleeping attire, etc. Keep in mind your guest’s personal situation. If they are older, have an injury or disability or kids that need to be contained, you should absolutely offer to let your guest use your room. A gracious hostess will always offer her room to any guest staying in your home – however, a good guest will decline (unless one of the above factors is in play). Also, if you have any house rules (No shoes? Lights out at 11?) be sure to communicate these ahead of time. Having these conversations ahead of time will allow your guests to feel at home when they arrive.

2. Set expectations for how much time you can/want to spend with your guest. This subject alone can cause the most tension and hurt feelings of any other. Communication is key here. Is your guest here only to visit you? Make sure you let them know when you’re available, and when they may need to entertain themselves. It could be hurtful if they are expecting to spend a lot of time with you, and you’re unable to. On the flip side, it is possible that your guest has other friends or family nearby that they want to visit. Make sure you talk about this ahead of time. Let your guest know the amount of time you’d like to spend with them, as well as how to handle times where they may come back to your house late. You should be open to giving them the freedom to see other people besides you, but you should also not feel like you’re running a bed and breakfast. Again, communication is key.

3. Be ready for your guests when they arrive. It is likely that your guest has traveled a long way to see you. If at all possible, you should have their space ready when they arrive. Have the bed made up with clean bedding and pillows. Have towels and washcloths set aside for them, so they do not have to ask for them. Depending on when they arrive, it would be great to have snacks or a meal ready as well. Try to anticipate their needs. Provide your guests with travel sized shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste/toothbrush, etc. Provide the little comforts of home – a nice candle, magazines and other reading material. Snacks you know they like. An alarm clock, a fan (or heater!), a welcome note… these little touches will make your guest feel at home. I saw a great idea on an HGTV show where the designer took a vintage suitcase and filled it with towels and toiletries, as well as local maps and a journal for visitors to write their thoughts and share their adventures. Sorry for the picture quality, but I took this from the tv screen!


5. Your home is their home. To a point, of course! I strongly recommend that you allow your guest to treat your home as theirs. Let them know that you have food in the fridge that they can help themselves to – and mean it. You shouldn’t feel like you need to wait on them, and they should feel comfortable enough to maybe cook for you! If they ask what they can do to help, have an answer for them. Being able to help out will make them feel like less of a burden to you.

6. Be ready to be a grateful overnight guest when they return the favor. Learn more here.

What do you think? Have I missed anything? What special touches have you shared with your overnight guests?

4 thoughts on “How to be a gracious hostess to overnight guests

  1. Good tips, Lisa! I love the little suitcase filled with toiletries (toothpaste is always a nice thing to have on hand!). I also like to put any photos I might have of the guest and our family in some cute little frames and place them in the room. Fun to relive old memories, and makes them feel special.

  2. In our old house we had toothbrushes, shower gels, etc and I think we only had people stay w/us once or twice 🙂 Now we don’t even have a spare room for guests! But that is what couches are for right??? And a motorhome 🙂

  3. Pingback: Be a grateful guest when staying overnight | Modern Homemaker: Single Edition

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