How to be a Good Host or Hostess to Your Guests

The arrival

When you pick your guest up from the airport, train station or bus station, bring a small snack or an individually-wrapped baked item, such as a cookie or a brownie. What a perfect way to welcome someone into your presence! For just a moment, they will forget they are tired from their long journey; for just a moment, they will feel special.  If your guest is driving or taking a cab to your home, have a sign or banner on your front door to welcome that person. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this; simply write a welcome message with brightly colored markers on a large piece of paper and fasten it to your window, mailbox or door. Be sure to give your guest a warm smile and a big hug to really make them feel cared for!

The departure

If guests have a long drive home, then you can give them a small “going away” basket with snacks and drinks to keep them satisfied during the trip (caffeinated beverages or energy bars, for example). For added thoughtfulness, place a “thank you for visiting” note card inside the basket. If your guests stay with you during a holiday where there’s lots of delicious food, you might decide to send them away with a little basket full of leftovers, neatly packed, with a few individually wrapped candies. If you’re sending them home with perishable food, be sure to include a disposable cooler with a large ice pack to keep the food fresh.

The stay

1. Build a guest kit. It’s often a good idea to fill a lovely basket with travel-sized toiletries and amenities to make your guests feel at home. Here’s a list of essential items to have on hand in your basket when your visitor(s) arrives. Travel-sized items are less expensive and very convenient for guests to use and take with them when they leave. Note: You won’t need every one of the following items, but take a look at the list to get an idea of what to add to your guest kit. Also, once you purchase these items and build a kit, all you need to do is replace a few items; you won’t have to buy a new kit every time you host a new guest.

Soft Toothbrush Travel Size deodarant Hairspray
Toothpaste Body lotion Shaving Cream
Mouthwash Feminine products (sanitary napkins, etc) Razors
Dental Floss Emery boards Toilet paper (so they don’t have to ask)
Contact lens cleaning solution Nail polish remover Mini sewing kit
Contact case Cotton balls Mini first aid kit
OTC pills (Tylenol, Aspirin, etc) Cotton swabs Body Spray
Eye mask Tissues Mini mirror
Comb Shampoo/conditioner Extra pair of socks/underwear
Hairbrush Small luxury soaps Terry towel bath robe
Hair gel Body wash Wrinkle releasing spray
Spray on deodorant Shower pouf or loofah Sleeping aid (eg Benadryl)

You may arrange special amenities depending on the occasion or holiday. For example, if guests are staying for Thanksgiving, you could put all the travel-sized toiletries listed above in a cornucopia basket. If family is staying for Christmas, you can place the items in a stocking and hang it in the bathroom with a little note that reads, “Help yourself to whatever you need!”

2. Know what your guests like to eat and drink, so you can shop accordingly and know what to have in the house. Be sure to stock up on essentials such as milk, coffee, tea, fresh orange juice, sugar, etc. If you’ve invited children to stay at the house as well, make sure you have foods they are allowed to and will want to eat. A good idea is to check with the parents to find out food preferences before their arrival and go shopping for these items in advance.

3. Make arrangements for dinner in advance. Always ask whether they have any food allergies or sensitivities, and be sure to ask what foods and snacks they like the most. Treat your guest to a nice dinner if you can afford to do so or cook them a nice dinner at home.

4.Fill a small basket with chocolates, whole fruit (apples, bananas, oranges) and mini-sized snack bags. Leave the basket in the guest room so your visitors can enjoy a snack at their convenience when they are at your house.

5. Offer to take your guest’s luggage and place it neatly on a luggage rack–just like you’d find in a hotel. As a common courtesy, it’s best to keep the luggage off the floor. Purchasing a luggage rack is a great idea; it’s a one-time investment that’s not overly expensive (ranging from $20 to $70).

6. Invest in at least one nice guest towel and wash cloth. A good quality plush towel will make all the difference to your tired guest after a nice, relaxing shower. Remember that the towel, like the guest kit and luggage rack, is something you’ll only have to buy once. And you need not worry about purchasing all these items right away; you can collect them over time.

7. Leave your guest(s) a nice supply of fresh pillowcases, blankets, and sheets. Two pillows and an extra blanket will suffice. Be especially thoughtful, you can have their beds already turned down for them when they arrive in the guest room. If you don’t have a guest room or guest bed, you need not worry. Simply prepare a couch, futon, pull-out sofa or air mattress the same way you’d prepare a bed, with plump pillows and plenty of blankets.  If you are using the couch or pull-out bed, be sure to layer it with crisp, clean sheets.  This is a must.

8.Provide a small mesh bag or a laundry basket for the guest’s dirty clothes. A mesh bag is breathable, easy to see through, and convenient for storing inside the luggage bag once your visitor is ready to return home. It can get difficult to keep the dirty clothes separated when living out of a suitcase; therefore, this is a good idea.

9. Fill a jug with water and place it with a glass by each guest’s bedside table. You can get fancy by adding a small teapot with some herbal tea bags if you want, too. If you don’t have a guest bed with a bedside table, you can place the water or tea on a folding snack tray.

10.Keep books, DVDs, videos, CDs, board games, a deck of cards or any other forms of entertainment handy as an extra special treat. If children are staying over, have coloring books, crayons and any other activity to keep the kids occupied so their parents can relax with a cup of tea when they arrive after a long trip.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be the most popular host or hostess in town! More importantly, your guests will feel amazing and absolutely appreciate the fact that you went out of your way to make their stay extra special.

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