Community Post

How to Be A Really Great Host: 15 Brilliant Tips from Our Readers

Hosting friends or family in your home soon? GNI Readers share their very best tips for welcoming guests.

Recently, we published this slightly overeager guide to hosting, in which Alisha rounded up tips from her experience, her own house guests, and friends of GNI. We also asked if you had any hosting recommendations, and we were delightfully overwhelmed with all your caring, thoughtful ideas (and yes, Google Forms are involved). Here’s what you had to say:

First up, the Must-Haves. 

  1. Stock the bathroom. Make sure you have fresh toiletries such as shampoo, q-tips, and makeup remover (Megan). Also, it’s nice to add some fun, unexpected products to the bathroom essentials, like in-shower spray (Olivia).

  2. Tell or show guests where the “emergency” items are. No one wants to wake you up to ask where the tampons are! Point out where people can find OTC pain relievers, extra towels or blankets, etc. (Danielle K.)

  3. Keep a plunger in the guest bathroom. Discreetly, of course! There’s nothing worse than having to ask your host for one. (Rachel K.) Another bathroom must-have: Poo-pourri. (Jessika)
  4. Don’t forget about tech in the guest room. Many readers wrote in about extra phone chargers, alarms, and speakers. If your guest is from overseas, pick up a travel plug adapter. (Kelly)

  5. Make some plans. Okay, so you’re cleaning and getting all the things your guests might need, but don’t forget to think about what you might do together! Have a few ideas, but don’t get too prescriptive about it. (Meriam)

The Little Things

These are the nice-to-have items or practices that might not immediately come to mind:

  1. Make a tip sheet for guests. You know your home well, but your guest might not. Write out really practical things, like your wifi password, but also some of the quirks about your space, like the fact that your bathroom door squeaks. Plus, it’s always great to share where the nearest park is. (Nicole F.)

  2. Set aside bathroom storage space. Living out of a suitcase is not comfy, and it’s only made tougher by having to store a wet toothbrush in your bag each night. Clear some space in the bathroom cabinet and set out a cup for your guest, so they can have a little spot of their own. (Janie F.)

  3. Be mindful of sensitive sleepers. These earplugs and these sleep masks were highly recommended by a reader. It’s extra conscientious to include smaller-sized earplugs — they’re not one-size-fits-all! (Caro E.) Another reader suggests blackout curtains to make the room dark and a sound machine, so guests can more easily adjust to a new sleep environment (Saig).

  4. Don’t forget a washcloth! When you leave out a towel for your guest, don’t forget a washcloth, loofah, or shower brush. (Erin K.)

  5. Public transit. If you’re in a city with lots of public transit, give your guests a subway, metro, or bus pass so they can easily get around. You could also leave a map or information about the closest stop. (Jenny L.)

For the 5 Star Host ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Some people go above and beyond when hosting guests and should probably be running a bed and breakfast. These are their tips:

  1. Make a survey. Obviously, we’re into this survey that one reader sends to guests once they book their travel. It’s an easy way to gather all the logistics — dietary restrictions, travel dates, etc. — but it can also help you get all the details juuuust right. How many towels will your guest need? What’s their beverage of choice? This survey’s got it all covered. (Lauren F., who has more tips here.)

  2. Get personal. Change out the picture frame in your guest’s room to include a photo of yourself with them. (Claire J.)

  3. Give your guest space and privacy. Plan to do a super quick errand shortly after someone arrives, like picking up wine or snacks. In the time you’re gone, your guest can unpack, decompress, and explore the space without feeling like they’re intruding. (Diane L.)

  4. Make a snack while making your house smell homey. Bake something that’ll be ready right when your guest arrives (Nicole F.). Similarly, you could pre-make cookie dough and freeze it to bake when they want fresh cookies. (Georgia)

  5. Share some nightly reading. If your guest is a reader, set out a book they’d like on the nightstand. A short story collection is great, because you can easily read one story per night, and your guest won’t be caught in the middle of a narrative when they go. (Thao)

BONUS: For Guests

Being a guest at someone’s home can be tough, too. Kaitlin Z. wrote in to share School of Life’s video on How to Be a Good Guest.

“The "perfect" guest can be boring and uptight. It's much better to be yourself while being respectful to the host. I recently stayed with friends and they made a lovely homemade three-course dinner, complete with home-grown courgettes (wow).

The next morning's breakfast was whatever-you-want from the kitchen, which can be intimidating if you are trying to be the perfect guest. For any overthinking type, it means second guessing what would be the "right" choice. Instead of going for the boring cereal option, I cooked leftover pasta with the cheese and eggs they had on hand. It was amazing. Hopefully, my friends were happy I was able to be myself around them; I was treating them the same as I would with my family.”

And, if you’re traveling, take a look at o​​ur favorite items that make travel that much easier.

Happy hosting!

Image via @jessica.lyn.smith

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