1. Put out the welcome mat.
Literally! Be sure your entry to your home is uncluttered, welcoming, and that there is an easy and convenient place to wipe shoes and hang coats. Don't have a grand foyer? No problem. If you have time, snag a plastic boot tray at the local big box store for guest footwear that can be placed temporarily by the door. Or grab a floor mat/rug from any area of the home you won't be using much, and lay it out by the door. Sure you wouldn't choose to have it there all year (and you need to put it back where it belongs tomorrow), but guests will immediately see where they can place wet shoes or where to dry their feet on the way in. If you have a coat closet, go ahead and unload your family's coats (and stash them somewhere out of sight), and stock with plenty of hangers (again, steal from another room, if you have to).
2. Grab a basket and stock up.
Be sure bathrooms are well stocked with amenities. Take items you'd normally keep hidden away, like extra rolls of toilet paper, facial tissue, plungers, and even women's emergency essentials and place them within easy reach to avoid any guest's embarrassment to have to ask for them. A basket works nicely so they aren't an eyesore. If you are having overnight guests, find a place to house some "oops" essentials like a razor, deodorant, toothbrushes, floss, tums, or headache medicine. Once again, nothing is more uncomfortable for a guest than needing something in the bathroom, or discovering they have forgotten something after you've already gone to bed.
3. Whip the bedside table into shape.
If you are having overnight guests, you'll definitely want to check out this blog on preparing your guest space. In short though, just be sure to anticipate your guests needs. Things like having to rely on you to wake them in the morning, navigating through a dark unknown space for a glass of water, being cold, having insufficient pillows or blankets, lack of tissues, or no bedside lighting are all things that would make any guest uncomfortable. So grab these things: tissues, an alarm clock, a bedside lamp or night light, a coaster and glass and place them at the bedside. Bam! Your hospirality will get rave reviews!
4. Go out of your way to cater to special needs.
After a long trip to your home, or a late night of fun, be extra considerate of guests' special needs, like a pet-free sleep zone for those with allergies, or a child-proof room for those with little ones. So grab the doggy gates, put fresh linens on the beds, and take a few minutes to baby proof.
5. Get tech saavy in seconds.
Many people traveling through the holidays do so with smart phones, laptops, tablets, and BlackBerryies in tow. So take a few seconds to make their stay as comfortable as it might be at the local hotel - you know the kind with wifi? Clear an outlet and nearby surface for a charging station and supply your internet access password to guests on the bedside table.
6. Raid the pantry.
Guests who journey long distances by plane, train and automobile should not have to ask for a bite to eat or a refreshing drink. Be ready with snacks and refreshments for all your traveling guests. It doesn't have to be fancy. If you will have pint-sized guests and have a little time, be sure to purchase a few extra things for little ones to keep in the house, if you don't normally. A cranky toddler will be one less thing for your guests to worry about. Whether you have time for the store or need to raid the pantry, look for favorites like Cheerios, pretzels, cheese sticks, crackers, and applesauce to keep on hand.
7. Make room for guests.
Last but not least, you might be short on time, but guests really don't want to share their sleeping quarters with young children or animals, or be in a make-shift public space. Do your best to set your guests up in restful locations in your home. If possible, you might have to have one of your own family members take one for team so that Aunt Gert can have the bed that she deserves.
Happy Holidays! Now, hurry up - it's almost time!