Tips for Hosting Overnight Guests

This week we are republishing some of our most popular tips posts from the past.

I love to entertain, and when it’s overnight guests, that’s even better.  Although it is a lot of work getting everything ready, I am in heaven and thoroughly enjoy all of the cooking and cleaning.  Some people just panic when it’s time to have out-of-towners who stay a few days, but after years of experience, I have a check-list of six tips for hosting overnight guests that will make the experience stress-free for the hostess.  If you have a system and a plan, things can go a lot smoother.


Spring Cleaning Our Homes' Forgotten Areas



Someone told me once that people don’t notice if your house is clean, but they notice if it’s dirty.  I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know that I want a clean house when our guests arrive.  Let’s say our guests are arriving on Friday.  I’ll do the heavy cleaning on Wednesday.  If I notice that something needs a repair, a paint touch-up is needed, there are a few dirty windows, or something needs a spot cleaning, then I have time to do it.  Waiting till the last minute to clean just doesn’t work for me.  I want the cleaning bucket to be stowed away and my house to be sparkling when the door bell rings.


How to add cookbook storage for your cookbooks.



I like to sit down with a pen, notebook, and cookbooks and plan each meal for each day.  If it’s just bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, I write it down because that will require bagels from my local shop and cream cheese from the grocery.  As I am making my menu, I have a shopping list right there, too.  I write down each ingredient that I need to purchase, and I also check my pantry to make sure everything is in full supply.  I also have a list of the shops I will need to visit.  For instance, wine will require a stop at the wine shop (we can’t buy wine in our grocery stores here in Kentucky.)  To simplify shopping, I sometimes use my store’s app to shop online and pick the things up later.  However, when I’m about to entertain, I would rather physically go to the store and make my own selections.  Plus, I might see something in the store that I forgot to add to my list.


French flowers



It’s so nice to have a large bouquet of flowers in a main traffic area in your home and a few smaller bouquets in your guests’ bedrooms and in the powder room.  My local market gets their flower shipments on Mondays and Fridays.  I always try to buy flowers on those days so they will stay fresh longer.  (Each bouquet has a sell-by date on it just like a gallon of milk does.) Since I have already done my cleaning and big grocery shopping by then, I have time at the last minute to stop in and buy fresh flowers and to make an early morning run to the bagel shop.  It’s all about the details, and those last-minute details make entertaining a little more special.

Janette - The 2 Seasons



I even like to plan my wardrobe in advance.  I always make sure that all of the laundry is washed and ironed before our guests arrive, and since I know which activities we will be doing, I select the clothes I will be wearing in advance.  When we have overnight guests, I like to be dressed and ready for my day as soon as I get up each morning.  That gives me time to get the Keuring ready, empty the dish washer, fluff the pillows, bring in the paper, change the water in the fresh flower bouquets, set out the plates, and breakfast items, etc.  Having my outfits planned in advance saves me a step when I need to be doing something else.


Kentucky horses



I research things that are going on around town and buy tickets in advance.  Ditto for restaurants.  Be prepared to be flexible, and consider your guests’ interests and restrictions when planning what you will be doing. Don’t expect a guest to enjoy an art museum if he would rather be watching a game.  If your group is active, make sure your sports equipment is in good condition and ready for some action.  Have running routes and biking maps ready if someone would enjoy going for a run or a bike ride.  If your group is more sedentary, perhaps they would enjoy a stroll in a local park or arboretum.

Quiddler is a great family card game - The 2 Seasons



In case bad weather is predicted,  always have a back-up plan.  Know which movies are playing in your area, and what’s going on at indoor entertainment areas like breweries, wineries, bowling alleys, libraries, etc.  Also, have some board games and puzzles ready.  Two that we love are Cranium and Quiddler.  Sometimes all it takes is a deck of cards and a good game of rummy to make everyone happy.


Six Tips for Hosting Overnight Guests


So, that’s it for my suggestions.  I stand by them and am pretty sure that you follow them, you can make entertaining in your own homes a little easier.  If you have any to add to the list, we would love to hear them.


Take care.


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  1. Beth says

    I also have a supply of local magazines and a small plate of local chocolates. I fill a water carafe filled with fresh water.
    Your right about planning your wardrobe in advance. I am serving a modified Derby breakfast for my guest this weekend.