The Most Important Secret to Hosting Guests over the Holidays


Making your guest feel at home can be surprisingly overwhelming. Do you have the right pillows? Appropriate agenda? Allergy-free afternoon snacks? Friends, don’t fret! We have the most important secret to hosting guests over the holidays.

You are hosting guests over the holidays. You’ve got it all; the sheets are washed, the fridge is packed with specialty items, you have allergies and food preferences memorized. You have handpicked magazines for bedside tables, the WiFi password and garage code lovingly on display. Your bathroom soap dispenser is full and you even managed to vacuum. You are queen of all hosting!

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But here’s the thing. Even when a guest is comfortable, being a guest can be exhausting. Let me speak frankly here; being my guest can be exhausting. When my family stays with us and walks through that front door, we attack, golden retriever style. We have energy, love and needs. My sons want to wrestle, to have a goalie, to be read to, to play 54 games of Go Fish. I want to unwind and debrief and discuss and share feelings. We can be a bit much, I know. We are all starving poor souls, devouring our guests with our love, soccer schedules and stamina.

The Most Important Secret to Hosting Guests over the Holidays

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I believe I have uncovered the most important secret to hosting over the holidays. Guests need alone time.

More than bedside water and egg casseroles, more than holiday appropriate sheets and a chalkboard welcoming sign, a guest needs a break in their day. A time specified for relaxing alone, where they are encouraged to not play, not read Star Wars picture books, not deal another deck of cards, not be goalie to a hurtling soccer ball. My guests need a breather.

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So you may want to fill your holiday schedule and fit everything in, but remember this; your guests are not in their own environment, and even to the young, adventurous cool aunt, it’s important to give her space to unwind and mindlessly surf iInstagram

So how do you do this? Two easy ways.

  1. Create a space, set it apart. I know it’s not in everyone’s floorpan to have a separate guest room. But see if you can designate a place where your guest has freedom from the kids, the dog or yes, even you. Ask your children to respect this space while your guest is in town.
  2. Set a time. Tell your guest the day’s activities, and mention an hour (or three) of downtime. Encourage your guest to go for a walk, use your computer, take a nap or borrow the car. And enforce the downtime upon yourself and children! Ask the kids to read a book or play alone (or let’s be honest, just put on Moana) while the adults relax.

I know it may be hard to let your best friend out of sight if she’s visiting you from across the country, or to put a limit to Rescue Bot play with a favorite uncle, but a happy guest will be a returning guest. Give your friends and family the space and time to feel at home and the energy to fully enjoy their trip. And I must give credit where it’s due; this hosting breakthrough goes to my mother, who lets me sleep through the majority of my visits home. A napping house is a lovely place to visit!