I love having faraway friends and family come to visit for the weekend– you get to be a tourist in your own city as you show them around your favorite places and eat at local hot spots. That said, prepping for their arrival can get stressful if you feel pressure to attain insta-worthy perfection in your home (trust me, I’ve been there.)

After hosting my fair share of overnight guests over the years, I’ve found that the key to making guests feel comfortable in your home is as easy as putting yourself in their shoes and considering what you’d most appreciate if you were a guest.

With a little preparation and an open arms attitude, you can make everyone feel special the minute they walk through your doors. Scroll on for 8 ideas to try before out-of-towners arrive, guaranteed to make their stay comfortable, fun, and easy breezy (for both of you!)

image by kate zimmerman

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Tidy up the house.

Use out-of-town guests as motivation to get things in tip-top shape and off your to-do list. Finish that load of laundry you’ve been staring at for days, hang up clothes or items that have stayed one week too long on ‘the chair’ (we all have one), clean out the fridge, get rid of clutter throughout the house, and do those small house repairs or redecorating projects you’ve been putting off. An afternoon of cleaning and organizing can go a long way in changing the whole vibe of your home — even if a quick vacuum and pillow fluff is all you have time for, you should try your best to make your home something you feel proud to show off when your guests walk through the door.

image by kate zimmerman

Stock the fridge.

Is there a special snack or beverage you know your guests love? Get it at the store, along with some essentials your guests can easily access and munch on if they get hungry.  When I have family or friends come to town, I always stock up on rose, Mexican beer, cheese and crackers, berries and yogurt, and a few easy things for breakfast — usually eggs, bacon, and avocados. Also make sure you don’t forget coffee, filters, creamer, and sweetener for morning joe! If your guests aren’t java drinkers, get something else like herbal tea or fresh squeezed juice for them to enjoy right when they wake up.

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Make room for their belongings.

Whether they’re staying in a spare bedroom room or sleeping on an air mattress in the living room, you want to make sure to provide an area where your guests can put their things and not feel like they’re in the way. Clear out a drawer or a portion of the closet — no one likes to live out of a suitcase. Same goes for the bathroom — make sure there’s an empty drawer or enough space on a shelf for their toiletries to live for the weekend.

image by kate zimmerman

Cozy up the bed.

Make sure you have nice, clean sheets, plenty of fluffy pillows, and extra blankets near the bed. Sometimes sheets on guest beds can start smelling stale when they go unused, so it’s not a bad idea to wash the sheets before your guests arrive if it’s been awhile. A few days before your friends or family get there, spend some time in the guest room—even get in the bed! Are there enough blankets? Do the pillows feel good? How’s the temperature of the room? Most guests are too polite to complain, so you want to anticipate any potential issues beforehand and do everything you can to turn their room into a luxury, cozy place to stay. 

image by kate zimmerman

Provide the essentials (and then some).

Leave out crucial items they’ll need throughout their stay such as towels and washcloths folded in plain sight (rather than making guests scout through closets). You can leave them on the bed next to extra pillows or blankets, or show them where their designated towels are in the bathroom.

Also, just like a hotel bathroom, I like to lay out a few toiletries like soap, shampoo and conditioner, and lotion for my guests in case they’ve forgotten anything. You can find travel-size bottles in most grocery stores or pharmacies, and your guests will appreciate to know that they have everything they need to live comfortably for the next few days. Tip: if you’re a low-key beauty product hoarder like me, stock up on small toiletries the next time you’re staying at a nice hotel and bring the products home for your future houseguests to use. Nothing says hostess with the mostess like mini bottles of Le Labo shampoo resting on top of their crisp clean towels.

If you really want the hostessing gold star, place a vase of fresh flowers on their bedside table, along with a couple water bottles and a midnight snack. Some current magazines or a travel guide of your city is always a nice touch as well — especially if they’re early risers or night owls.

image by kate zimmerman

Check the details.

Unused guest rooms can sometimes go unnoticed in normal routine care of our home, especially when it comes to electrical or utilities.  Since you don’t want your guests sitting in the dark with their phone flashlights, check to ensure all the the light bulbs are in working order, lamps are plugged in, and ceiling fans work as they should. Also, check that clocks are set to the right time and channel changers are in working order if there’s a TV in the room. Remember: you may know the ins and out of your home, but your guests won’t – especially in the dark! Prevent any zombie walking moments down the hallway or banged up shins by installing a nightlight to help guide the way from their bedroom to the bathroom.

Speaking of bathrooms, check that there’s enough toilet paper and access to a plunger in the bathroom they’ll be using. You’ve been there, I’ve been there, we’ve all been there. Help your guests out by leaving extra TP under the sink a plunger by the toilet.

image by claire huntsberger

Don’t forget the kids.

If your guests include children, make sure you accommodate them, too. If you don’t have any children, it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on some healthy snacks kids love, and pick up a game or two to keep them busy or plan an easy craft. If you and the parents want a night out, find the names and numbers of a few fun and trustworthy babysitters in the area you can give the parents. Don’t feel like you need to arrange for the babysitter, but having it be an option for visiting parents is always nice. It’s their vacation, too!

image by kate zimmerman

Share the house “secrets”.

When your guests arrive, give them a tour of the house so they can help themselves to anything they may need throughout their stay. Show them where they can store their things, find essential items, and how to make coffee in the morning. On a piece of paper, share little house secrets such as the Wifi password and alarm code, so they don’t have to awkwardly ask for it throughout their stay. Teach them how to work the thermostat, lights, and tv. Give them a set of spare keys on a cute key chain for the weekend so they can come and go as they please. Your guests will appreciate your effort to make them feel welcomed at your humble, happy abode.

image by michelle nash

Make a Tour guide.

Give your guests a list of some of your favorite places in your hometown. Mix in some tourist must-see attractions, as well as some local favorites. Include your go-to restaurants, walking trails, coffee shops, cocktail bars, and anywhere else that comes to mind. Your guests will feel more comfortable to go explore your city on their own and be excited to see your favorite spots. If you’re in Austin like us, here are our favorite things to do outside, from hiking to art and everything in between, to soak up the sun and fall in love with the city all over again.

image by michelle nash

Create the perfect ambience.

Nothing feels more homey than burning scented candles. Make your out-of-town guests feel cozy and comfortable by lighting a few yummy smelling candles around the house. And don’t forget to match the scent to the season! Elevate the coziness even more with some calming music playing over your speakers and having throw blankets at the ready. Check out some of our favorite non-toxic candles to set the comfy mood in your home.

image by michelle nash

Don’t Forget To Ask.

One of the most basic, but essential, hosting tips is to ask your out-of-town guests what they want. Some people are not comfortable speaking up about their preferences, so this way everyone is on the same page. You can ask if they have any specific foods they like to keep around the house, any dietary restrictions they may have, what they feel like doing for the day, or if they prefer coffee or tea in the mornings. Your guests will appreciate that you care about making them feel at home and making their trip a great experience.

image by michelle nash

set the table.

If you are a cook and decide to host dinner for your guests, setting the table is a great way to make your guests feel comfortable. This way they don’t have to search through your cabinets and drawers to find what they need. Add a table runner and a vase of fresh flowers and you’re good to go!

image by michelle nash

Have a drink waiting.

There is no better feeling than finally arriving to your hotel after a long day of traveling and they have a drink at the ready just for you. So why not bring this to your home? Whether it’s a cold glass of water, coffee, or bubbly, having a beverage in hand for your guests upon arrival is the best way to kick off your time together. This will make your out-of-town guests feel so appreciated and welcome at your home.

This post was originally published on July 24, 2019, and has since been updated.

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