3 Tips for Having Houseguests

We don’t host as many out-of-town guests as we used to, only because they now have to sleep in Toby’s room, and he gets up at the crack of dawn. But! Here are three handy tips I’ve heard through the years…

1. Spent a night in your own guest room to try it out. We did this a few years ago (back when Toby’s nursery was a guest bedroom) and were surprised by noisy garbage trucks at 5am. We got a noise machine for the room, but if we hadn’t slept in it, we never would have known.
2. Put a carafe of water on the bedside table. It’s such a fancy touch, even though they’re only $10. Here are two simple ones. (Get one for your own room, too!)
3. Put out tons of extra toilet paper in the bathroom, because there’s nothing more awkward than having to ask for more.

What other little things do you do when having houseguests?

(Photo from interior designer Maria Llado)

  1. I also place amenities in the bathroom that may be needed: aspirin, nail clipper, nail file, toothpaste, extra toothbrush, comb, plenty of shampoo, conditioner, bath gel. On bedside tables, bottle of water for each side (or guest), fresh flowers and tissues and then plenty of extra pillows, large bath sheet towels, wash clothes and always a hair dryer. Depending on where guests have travelled from, I may include some melatonin for jet-lag relief and a little container of hand cream.

  2. Its really nice to take care of guests in all possible ways. We always try to feel them at home with all possible care. But many times, small things matters most and these are the one’s. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lauren Lyons says...

    Just seeing this post for the first time + love it! We have a beach house in Long Island, + as you can imagine, we always have guests (which we love). I always put a cute basket in the bathroom w/ toiletry samples (in case anything is forgotten). I always include organic versions of: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, dental floss, tooth paste, tooth brushes, razors, deodorant, hair ties, bug spray, room spray, band aids, etc. I also include books in the night stand drawer, water pitcher, water glasses, magazines, + a stamped postcard from our town w/ a pen so guests can send a card back home. Fresh flowers are also a must. I also have a framed print in the guest room that read “Old Friends, Great Times, Warm Memories.”

  4. Water in the room is something we do with all houseguest. Everyone has woken up at someones house and craved a glass of water but too nervous to go adventure out to the kitchen in the middle of the night. Another tip would be providing a little packaged snack such as a package of nuts or something smalls some people are not as comfortable about searching through someones pantry or fridge.

  5. The toilet paper thing is such a necessity. We just had house guests over the weekend and put out a basket of snacks on our kitchen counter so that our guests could nibble on chips/granola/cookies without having to ask us every time.

  6. I am quite shocked no one mentioned a spare key. I always leave my guests with a key to the front door so they feel they can come and go as they please when we aren’t spending time together.

  7. I am SHOCKED that no one mentioned a spare key. I always leave my guests with a key to the front door so they feel they can come and go as they please on days we aren’t together.

  8. You find a family in a country events that you want to visit and who requires someone to look after their kids. For a pre-agreed number of hours during the week you take care of the children in return for a bedroom, food and some cash. Depending on the country you may pocket $150 – $200 (USD). It is a fantastic way to experience not only the sites of another country but also the culture of the family you live with.

  9. i rather not make them too comfortable, so they can go home quicker.. I don’t see the point of house guests, especially if there are hotels around. If you can’t afford a hotel, then you shouldn’t be traveling.

  10. I always buy my house guests a loofa because what’s worse than using a washcloth with body wash?! ugh!

  11. The smiles of your loved ones, staying away from you brighten up when they receive your gifts. In no time, they start perceiving you are right among them. For details, visit

  12. I have a simple wooden tray on the bed with our guest book to the “Welcome” page. Next to it I have a fancy water bottle that I’d never buy for myself along with a small water glass. Sometimes I place Andes Chocolate mints on each pillow.
    I slept in our guest bedroom a few nights ago and discovered that it needs two things, better pillows and a beside lamp.

  13. Great tips! I like to have small sample size things like toothpaste, etc. just for fun for the guests. Almost making their stay more “hotel-like”. I also make ure we have fruit in the house. Everyone loves fruit. For breakfast we put on a pot of coffee with cinnamon and some fresh fruit.

  14. Love this! A super comfy bed, nice bedding,extra blankets, towels, fresh flowers, have some food items that you know they love, extra toiletries, night light if desired, blinds for window, quiet clock, bedside lamp.
    I am going to be sure to write down the wifi password next time and some reading material.

  15. We put a piping hot- hot water bottle in our guests bed so that when they jump under the covers it is nice and toasty. Best ever!!

  16. We have a basket just for guests with towels, face wipes, travel-sized toiletries including perfumes, Qtips and cottonballs. Also, some reading material, a lamp, and electrical outlet by the bed.

  17. My sister-in-law has frames in the guest room that are easily changeable. Whenever we visit, there are pictures in the room of our children! As if they always have photos up just of us :). It is such a lovely and thoughtful touch.

  18. you should also give tips on being a house guest in nyc — i feel like my visitors need some tips on how to be better :)

  19. What a great post. I also leave out extra towels and blankets on a chair. People like different things and if they are cold in the middle of night it is there waiting for them.


  20. With you on the TP and also: Always have a garbage bin in all bathrooms. Hello! Where am I supposed to dispose of my tampon applicator?!

  21. I bought a nice-looking toilet plunger to keep in the guest bath. Having to tell your host that you backed up the toilet and ask for a plunger is way more embarrassing than asking for more toilet paper!

  22. I always leave a bottle of water, a cookie, and a napkin bedside. Also, additional toiletries in case they forget, no one wants to impose by asking for an extra razor.

  23. Tip for the guest: The best house guest is the one who doesn’t remake the bed when they leave but they strip the sheets.

    Tip for the host: A nice touch is when a you put a picture of you and the guest on the nightstand, super warm and welcoming!

  24. Ugh, we have SO many house guests! I would say we have visitors more weekends than not – maybe 30 to 40 weekends of the year. This means endless changing of bed linen, washing of towels, cleaning, cooking – we are basically a B&B without the income! And I am a freak about ironing my guest bed linen. There is nothing nicer than getting into a clean ironed bed, preferably with ironed PJs also. The other thing we do regularly is give up our own bedroom when older relatives stay with us, as generally they are used to sleeping in separate beds and get a better night sleep if one takes the guest room and one the spare room.

    (I would say, though, that I heartily believe in that old saying, ‘Fish and guests stink after three days’ – house guests who stay for weeks on end are my biggest bugbear!)

  25. Definitely fresh flowers, a few magazines and books, fluffy bath towels and their favourite foods/drinks if you know what they are.

    • Great tips! I spent a night once in our guestroom because I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to wake up my husband. In the morning I was woken up very early by the bright sun. Needless to say, I went out and bought better blinds before we had guests.

      I always like to leave fresh towels in the room when we have guests. That way, if they get up before us they can help themselves to the shower and not worry about rummaging though the linen closet.

      I’ve also recently added a iphone charger.

  26. I make a fancy mini bar, with local chocolates and nibblies for their room. I’ll also leave out some reading material I think they’d like, a small pile of DVDs or a special magazine I’ll grab from the newsagent. I love preparing for guests!

  27. My biggest pet peeve when staying at someone’s house is the lack of a bedside lamp/light. I always make sure I have one.

    There are so many great ideas in the comments here. I’m redoing my guest room now so I will be implementing many of them!

  28. a bedside clock!! there is nothing worse (to me) than waking up in the morning (or middle of the night, but hopefully not) and having NO CLUE what time it is, then having to fumble around to check your phone.

  29. I worked for the Wrigley family one summer (as in the gum and baseball stadium dynasty) and I loved seeing the things they did for their guest suites. Each one would have a bathroom stocked with toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, bar soap, shampoo, conditioner, and a hair dryer. The closet would have wood hangers, an extra throw blanket, set of linens and two pillows. The bedside table would always have an alarm clock. There would be a desk with a pen and notepad. And in the kitchen there would always be a tray for the guests with some easy to reach snacks like water crackers, mini toasts, fruit and jam etc. They kept passwords for wifi and such in a binder on the desk. And my favorite part of this set up was a freshly stocked magazine rack. We were always instructed to consider the guest’s tastes when choosing which publications to display.

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. Make sure your guest bedroom has a wastebasket – there’s nothing more awkward than having to wander around the house looking for a place to ditch your travel trash after a long flight.

  32. Guest rooms are a sign you’ve reached true adulthood!

    xo green gable

  33. Ha! If only we were half as genteel as everyone posting here! My husband and I live in a studio apt. Anyone who comes to stay gets the couch, a sheet and a blanket, a(possibly) clean towel and front row seats to our marital relations!

    • LOL. This made me giggle.

  34. My guest room always has a tissue box, trash basket, full towel set (with a hook on the back of the door for hanging), sleeping mask, water carafe, lotion and soft sheets.

    I’ve also found it’s helpful to find out in advance how guests take their coffee. Then I know if I need have splenda, half & half, etc. ready to go. There is nothing worse than not being able to have coffee the way you like it in the morning!

  35. I fill a basket with towels, face cloth, lotion, extra toothpaste and other essential toiletries. I also keep some reading out by the bedside, a couple of books and magazines from around the house, a small first aid kit and a bowl of chocolates. I also have a laundry bag or hamper (they can choose) and closet/wardrobe space, luggage rack at the ready.

    I’ve noticed that I do need the water carafe and wi-fi password. I also have a home alarm, but I tend to disarm the motion detection on the main living areas at night so they can run to the kitchen without setting of the alarm! Shouldn’t be a problem once I get that carafe!

    I slept in my guest room too and noticed that the light really comes in early and very bright through the curtains. I need blinds.

    Great post, Joanna!

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. My sister traveled a ton a few years back and said the thing that she was most thankful for was when the host left an iron/ironing board in the guest room. I would have never thought of that, but I now have an iron in my guest room closet.

  38. oh, yes, printing out the the wifi password! i’m going to bookmark these comments for when we have guests in the future.

  39. rose, a nightlight is so thoughtful. i always get freaked out in other people’s houses:)

  40. these are great tips! love the idea of a scented candle…and slippers would be SUCH a sweet touch.

  41. I put a basket filled with mini toiletries – soaps, shampoos, body lotion, cotton buds etc – just incase they forget something or want to try a different product. Also a lovely scented candle (even when unlit they make the room smell good).

  42. Towels, tissues, slippers (to feel like at home!), water… the snack box is a great idea too! Guests can always find soap, shampoo and toilet paper at the bathroom, of course. I love the idea of magazines and fresh flowers, but my guests are there just at bedtime so I try to make the living room more confortable! And I put a little note on the coffee maker with the instructions to prepare a good coffee, just in case.

  43. I have a huge stash of natural bamboo guest toothbrushes which we burn through! It is surprising how so many people forget to pack them!

    I also have picture frames in the bedrooms that I switch out with fun photos of our guests when they come to stay! It always is a nice surprise for our loved ones to see our favorite memories with them on display!

  44. I agree with many of these! Where I live is pretty rural, and my city guests often comment that it’s “really dark.” I think sometimes people are scared but they don’t want to admit it! So, I often leave a nightlight on in the hall, or leave a little flashlight by the bed. Prevents fumbling for light switches in the dark, and I think my city-dweller friends appreciate a bit of light. :) Also, slippers!

  45. I just wrote a post about this! Two things that are kind of unique: Make a map of your area with your fav places listed (best pizza, coffee, shops etc.) and write your cell phone # on it in case their phone dies or they just want to head out wandering.

    If you are responsible for plans and entertainment, print out a list of the plans you have (leave some room for notes), and give it to your guest as a memento. That way they can remember the names of the places they went to.

    The whole post is here:

  46. Like others in the Mountain West – water for the altitude, lip balm and hand lotion. I also put out ear plugs (our kiddos wakes up at 7.00 and not everyone wants to hear the opening song for Dinosaur Train at 7.04 in the morning)

  47. I put a basket of travel sized everything in there for guests to use. I fill it with floss, extra toothbrushes, lotions, potions, etc. Several guests have commented on it. I also leave out a pile of wash cloths and tons of towels.

  48. wonderful ideas! i love this post, and the comments.

    we live in denver, and many of our midwestern visitors are not used to the higher elevation, or realize how dry that makes their skin. we leave out travel size aveeno lotion bottles for them to take with them.

    i send all guests an email a week prior to their visit with packing and traveling tips (what to expect for weather, highlights of what we’re doing so they know if they need dress shoes or hiking shoes or both, urge them to hydrate, let them know when we will be eating when they arrive so they know if they should eat at the airport or not, etc.)

    i leave a box fan in the guest room for guests to use if they need white noise to fall asleep. it’s the worst when you can’t sleep in absolute silence, but there’s no other option!

    thank you for the inspriation!

  49. I always add fresh flowers to my guest room and I put books that the guest would be interested in on the night stand. My sister is visiting this weekend (for my Mom’s 70th bday celebration) and I switched the books out to match her taste just this AM. A few Kennedy related books- an ee cummings poetry books- a book of quotes for mom’s……. Nice touches- simple.

  50. We live in the southwest, and having lots of guests come from the east coast – they don’t always realize just how dry it is! So to help ease that awkward extremely dry feeling on face, hands, and feet during the middle of the night – We put out a water spritzer and some luxurious lotion.

  51. I like the idea of keeping a laundry basket in the closet (on the floor, under the shelves), or behind the door. That way guests have a place to put their things!

  52. My mom always has extra robes on hand so guests have a comfy cover up for bathroom and shower trips down the hall, no awkward towels. My Aunt also used to have antique brass hot water bottles that she’d put at the foot of our beds before we went to sleep. So cozy and warm!

  53. Fresh flowers are always a welcome touch. Along with homemade muffins or scones set out for breakfast so they can help themselves.

  54. Warm blankets and/or extra comforters! I’m one of those people who likes to bundle up under the covers even in summer. As a houseguest in colder parts of the world, I’ve sometimes resorted to wearing my puffy down jacket to bed just to get cozy.

    If you want to go a bit fancy, you could take a drawer organizer and create a bathroom bento box of goodies for your guests:

  55. A friend of mine had a small basket of snack food in the guest room (peanuts, granola bars, bottles of water, candy etc.) so that guests who felt a little shy about snooping through their friend’s cupboards for a snack. She also had a nice robe and a tiny toiletries basket in the bathroom (toothbrush, toothpaste etc..) just in case you forgot something.

  56. Extra blankets in the closet, extra pillows as well. We put up a black out shade in the spare room as well. Night light (in case). A visable glowing room clock. A full length mirror.

  57. Leave towels out in their bedroom so they know immediately that all of their needs are met. Rather than keeping them in the bathroom, if it’s a shared bathroom, where they might have to wonder which towels are theirs. Bath towel AND face cloth! Some people don’t need face cloths, but for those of us who use them every day, we become panic-stricken when they aren’t available!

  58. i like to leave fancy chocolates, flowers, a few books magazines and a candle. oh and an extra blanket to get cozy.

  59. I always email and ask my guests ahead of time what breakfast and snack foods they want to have on hand. A friend of mine is a vegan and came to stay for a few days, and she was so thankful that I stocked up ahead of time on veg-friendly foods!

  60. Back when we had a lovely guestroom (when we lived in a different house in PA and prior to having 3 kids), we made it as comfy as possible. We had a guest robe, laid out towels/washcloths, put a vase of fresh flowers on the dresser, lit a scented candle and made sure to have an alarm clock they could use. We had lots of happy visitors.
    Now that we’ve moved back to the Midwest, we don’t have an extra room, but hope to create a guest room in our huge basement. I’m thinking it might be fun (and better use of space) to have a Murphy bed! Old school!

  61. I’ve put a little welcome gift on the bed with local treats. I also make sure to leave a fan in the room.

  62. i think a new bar of soap is essential! as opposed to giving guests an already used one, in my opinion :)

  63. Fresh flowers! I know it seems a little old fashioned, but it is such a nice touch!

  64. Love the water carafe idea! Because I happen to enjoy trip-planning, I’ll also collect a few ideas for entertainment and/or dining while my guests are in town :)

  65. I love having guests, these are such great tips!

  66. I have too many guests…would you consider lending out Toby??

  67. Thanks for the ideas, I love having guest at home. As I travel I lot because of my work I take the slippers they give you at the hotels and give it to my guest when they come home.

  68. I always make sure I put our nicest towels (we all have some grungy old towels that are NOT nice for guests) in the guest room, so they feel like they have their own.

    We also scored a couple bathrobes a while ago that we hang on the back of the door, so if they want to lounge around, they don’t have to feel weird about it (although, we’re so relaxed at home, that would probably never be a real issue)

  69. Mostly, house guests come to visit the city as much as they come to visit me, so I always keep free maps and rechargable public transportation tickets around…

    (but I like the idea of the water carafe and the one about hanging up your schedule, I think it makes everything so clear and would probably make both them and me feel more free and at ease)

  70. Oh, I forgot, we live in the south of Spain where it’s colder in the short winter than one might think, and all the floors are made out of cold marble.. So we bought some simple slippers from IKEA to keep a whole family’s feet warm if needed. It’s cozy even in the warmer periods! :)

    • I was in Southern Spain during “winter” and was surprised at how chilly it was at night! The house we stayed in had a tiny little wood stove and we fired it up in the evenings and sat around it drinking wine. Since we all heat with wood stoves at home here in Northern Wisconsin, the radiant heat of the stove made us feel so at home. :)

    • So true, Tonia, the fire places add booth warmth and cosiness!!
      We are from Sweden and never expected it to so cold inside here.. And the outside temperature during day could still easily reach late spring/early summer temperatures even in December/January. :)

  71. Lovely post!
    Fresh flowers, candles, magazines (business ones especially) and some books, small radio, extra bedding, notebook and pen etc

  72. Our home is an old farmhouse that has been remodeled, but there are still some of the old farmhouse quirks…like, the main bathroom is downstairs off the kitchen (meaning you have to walk through the kitchen in your towel and up the stairs to your bedroom afterwards. I mean, what if you forget your towel??) This is obviously awkward for guests, so I started rolling up clean towels and keeping a whole stash of them in a cute basket in the bathroom. I also mounted a bunch of hooks for clothes to hang, to encourage people to bring their change of clothes with them into the bathroom. I also keep a cute wire basket FULL of extra TP, like you suggested. All of these things I did with guests in mind, but actually it makes our family’s use of the bathroom nicer too! :)

    In our guest bedroom I keep a small stack of my favorite novels and a reading light, in case someone can’t sleep. And tons of extra pillows and blankets, folded up in the corner, because everyone has a different “sleeping temperature” and I don’t want guests to be chilly in our old house!

    • Oh and I forgot to add that our house is set up on a gray-water system, so all the soaps we use have to be biodegradable since they’re not going into a septic system, they’re going into the ground. So, I provide all the toiletries our guests need (this avoids the awkwardness of them wondering if the toothpaste they brought is biodegradable or not.) It’s funny because they usually comment on how well my “hippie shampoo” worked, or how much they liked the rose hip oil lotion, etc. :) Glad I can enlighten my friends with our weird, earth friendly ways while making them comfortable.

    • so true! i make my own shampoo and always try to remember to put a label on the bottle (which i wouldn’t normally do for myself) so guests know what it is when they’re in the shower in case they want to use it (we don’t have a guest bathroom). i also always put extra blankets in the room since we keep our house cool in the winter. putting a humidifier in the room in the winter or a fan in the summer when it’s hot is also nice.

      ever since my dad complained about not knowing where the towels are, i ALWAYS leave fresh towels on the bed for guests.

      and we tend to use the closet in the guest room as overflow for clothes we don’t wear often, but i make sure to clear it out or at least make sure there’s plenty of room for guests to hang their own clothes. no matter if they’re close friends or family, you don’t want your guests to feel like they’re sleeping in the storage room!

  73. fantastic tips! will have to keep them in mind for the day i get a guest room!
    kw, ladies in navy

  74. Since I’m always in need of a extra one myself,I of course always have an extra pillow in the wardrobe.

  75. In my culture, you always give your own room to your guests because supposedly your room is most comfortable. This always ensues in a back and forth between you and your guests but you should prevail. :)

  76. We started a guest book and we invite our guests to write us a little note in it… always fun to read after they are gone and reminisce about their visit. another thing I’d like to do but haven’t yet is to buy this four photo holder to put on the guest room wall and put photos of us with the guests who are coming to visit in them, changing them out with each guest:

  77. I always put a big stack of fresh towels, a water carafe, a candle with matches, a dish with fun-sized candy bars, an extra throw blanket, and a magazine that appeals to both men and women (usually bon appetite). I love having house guests!

    I’ve actually tried sleeping in my guest bed a few times and its much comfier, quieter, and more peaceful than the master haha. The view is also 1,000X better. If it wasnt’ half the size I’d move into it!

    • Shelley, when can I visit? ;)

  78. Oh and an aunt of my fiancee is the best host… little welcome note, carafe of water, freshest linens, instructions to the heating, robe and slippers…
    Wow !

  79. I take all the little shampoos and conditioners from hotels and that way I always have a new set to give to guests.


  80. Always try to give the best bed and insist that guest accept, especially if the guests in question are older, have a bad back or have had a long trip

    I remember my mom not allowing us to give her our bed the first night she visited : the next morning we could see she had had a bad night, so we sneaked a bit during the day and put her stuff in the bedroom and ours out for the night (sleep clothes, books and next day wear)… she was forced to say yes and rested much better :)
    I have no guest room, just a really good mattressed couch and an aerobed…

    Maybe you could sleep with toby and give your room if it’s a double bed in there too ?

  81. I also put out a little note with the wifi name and password on it. Everybody is wireless these days and it can be awkward to make somebody ask for it. Love the carafe idea! More so just for our own room though, haha.

  82. my mother in law (and her mother) always has fresh flowers in a little vase in the room and near the front door. nothing fancy, even supermarket flowers make it a nice touch!

  83. Love this!
    Ask your guests ahead of time if they have any special requests for breakfast. In the evening, set out coffee so it’s ready to go in case guests wake up before you.
    In the guest room/bathroom: hangers, fresh towels, shaving cream, nice fresh soaps, face wash, bottled water, slippers.

  84. We stayed at a friends house and they put out two little tea cookies on little saucers. A perfect little snack before bed!

  85. I save hotel shampoos, soaps and also cosmetics and skincare samples all in a pretty basket, somewhat organized. When guests visit, they almost always comment on a nice bath wash or moisturizer they tried. It can be a good conversation starter too, if I remember where I scored the sample.

    • I saw this idea on Pinterest and love it. We don’t have too much space to save extra bath supplies in my current apt, but in our next place will definitely put this into practice.

  86. For your guests who have young children, make sure that the windows have good room darkening blinds or shades. It is so frustrating to travel with a baby and have them wake up at 5:30 in the morning because the bedroom is so bright!

  87. My aunt in NYC is a wonderful host. She always lays out fresh towels, books + magazines, and clippings of events/ guidebooks of the city. — Which is genius!

  88. I was laughing out loud at the toilet paper, but so true!

    If it’s girlfriends staying (and it usually is for me) I like to have trashy gossip magazines in the room. It’s like visiting the hair salon: you’d never buy them yourself but anyone who ever stays with me is always caught red handed reading them.

  89. I stay over at a friends house regularly and she always leaves out fresh towels and toiletries, and hangs a dressing gown on the back of the door. It’s absolutely perfect for midnight dashes down the hall to the bathroom.

  90. Love the ideas. i also put up my schedule on the fridge (with the meals that i’ll prepare for them) so they know what to expect from me and when they’re on their own.

    Also, having the wifi password in their room seems to be an appreciated touch.

    • I love both these ideas, being a hungry guest is the worst!

  91. A little bit of closet space to hang up clothes and fresh flowers!

  92. This comment has been removed by the author.

  93. we always have extra toothbrushes/razors/toiletries in the guest bath, so people never have to ask. also, we have iPod docks in each guest room so guests can easily charge their phones.

  94. I always make sure there is a box of tissues in the room and little chocolates on the pillow…like a fancy hotel ;)

  95. This is perfect – my mother in law is coming next week, and though she has to stay in my daughter’s room (no proper guest room) we can still make it fancy. Don’t forget fresh towel and washcloth on the bed! : )

  96. My Nan would have magazines and books on the bedside table for guests…or a newspaper. As a kid I didnt get it, but now as an adult, I think its a great idea!

  97. We always try to have some food on hand that the guest likes. For instance, I always have Chai tea for my boyfriends mother, and we always get plain white bread to make toast in the morning for his father (because we don’t eat bread, so we never have it in the house)! I also like to have shampoo, conditioner, tooth brush and tooth paste, and a hair dryer in the guest bathroom in case they forget it!