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How to Make Overnight Guests Feel at Home

December 14, 2021

By Joy Ballard

What do you do when you don’t know how to make overnight guests feel at home? Hosting overnight guests doesn’t need to be stressful. As an experienced traveler and hostess, take it from me: hosting can be simple and fun!

The Hostess Without the Mostest

Maybe you feel like your home isn’t big enough or you don’t have enough plates or chairs. It could be that you don’t like to cook. Or perhaps, someone else’s home seems so much better for hosting than yours. 

We can all come up with a number of reasons why not to host. In one way or another, we don’t feel prepared or adequate enough.

Let’s flip the roles for a minute. 

What has been the most enjoyable experience you’ve had as a guest? 

Was it that time you went to somebody’s fancy house where the food was prepared by a chef and you were scared to sit on the pristine furniture? 

Or was it the hangout at your friends’ house, laughing late into the night while munching on whatever was found in the pantry?

You get the idea.

Simple Details Make a Huge Difference

I recently came home from a trip where I was hosted by my newlywed brother and his wife. As it goes, newlyweds often have a collection of furniture sourced from a variety of places, but upon entering their guest room, the mismatched pillows and hand-me-down furniture didn’t catch my attention. 

What my senses experienced were the wonderful scent coming from the lit candle awaiting my arrival and the thoughtful basket of snacks and toiletries. I found bottled water, neatly rolled towels and even the loose end of the toilet paper roll neatly folded hotel-style. 

You don’t need a dedicated guest room, high-end furniture or expensive decor. As a hostess for two successful vacation rentals, I can confidently say that what people notice most are cleanliness and details that show you care. 

The Basics of Hosting

Think through the lens of what would make your guests feel at home as they adjust to sleeping in an unfamiliar place. Obviously, clean bedding and a clean bathroom are essential. But with little effort, you can turn basic into special with these simple ideas:

  • Add extra blankets and pillows in case of cold nights or kids camping out on the floor.
  • Place a waterproof mattress pad on beds that kids will use. (I found this to be such a relief on my recent trip when my child had an accident!)
  • Make towels and extra toilet paper easy to find.
  • Have specific items ready that your guests may need. (Play pen, high chair, bedroom fan, etc.) 
  • Plan ahead for easy meals and inquire about any food allergies your guests have.
  • Pre-program your coffee maker in case guests wake up before you! 
  • Make sure your guest bath has shampoo, conditioner and bodywash. 
  • For families, stock up on kid-friendly cereal for early risers and snacks for picky eaters. 

The Extras for Hosting

The basics are more than enough for a pleasant stay, but if you want to add some extra touches, here are some ideas:

  • Start a wax warmer or oil diffuser in their bedroom right before they arrive. 
  • Add flowers or a simple stem of greenery in a small vase. 
  • If there isn’t already a bedside lamp, borrow one temporarily from elsewhere in your home. 
  • A fan, a phone charging station, bottled water and snacks are thoughtful details to include. 
  • Put together a small bathroom basket of travel-sized toiletry supplies your guests may have forgotten. 
  • Night lights in the bathroom, bedroom and hallway are great to make guests feel at ease. 
  • Find out ahead of time what some of their favorite snacks are to have on hand. 
  • Frame your wifi password and place in an easily visible spot. 
  • Make your laundry room available for any washing needs your guests might have.

Hosting: An Essential Part of Community

You may be familiar with this verse on hosting: “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” Acts 2:46b (NIV) It comes from a passage describing the early Jesus followers who were a tight-knit community, living simple, generous lives with one another. (It’s worth checking out the entire chapter because there is more to it than just food!)

The point is: we can host with glad and sincere hearts. Not stressed and resentful hearts. Not making life miserable for our husband and kids as we bark out commands and shove things into closets. 

Welcoming people into our home may feel vulnerable, but can lead to deeper friendships and stronger relationships. Whether you are hosting dear friends or difficult relatives, with a little preparation and thoughtfulness, you have an opportunity to express the love of Jesus in a unique way that they may not experience otherwise. 

Wife Step: If you have upcoming guests, what thoughtful detail can you start preparing ahead of time? If you don’t, who can you invite for a meal or a stay at your home?

Joy Ballard Square

Joy was born and raised in a multicultural, bilingual family in the country of Mexico. Although she loves a good taco, her love for a Minnesota guy won out. 14 years of marriage, 4 kids and many geographical locations later, they now reside in Indiana where her husband is completing a doctoral program. Together they love helping couples discover the incredible adventure marriage was intended to be. They have led many marriage small groups, ministries and retreats, but their favorite way to connect with other couples is by simply sharing life together. When not deep in the throes of homeschooling and parenting, Joy enjoys devouring books, stringing words together, dabbling in watercolor, and sipping coffee with friends. Photo credit: Woodford Sisters Photography


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