Tips to Be a Gracious Host & Guest During the Holidays

The holidays are some of the busiest travel times of the year. It’s rare that families end up in the same area where everyone can go back to their own beds each night. With that said, it’s not uncommon for people to stay with friends or family members during the season. I have yet to host a guest that I didn’t want back but I have heard horror stories from other people. It inspired today’s post sharing tips to be a gracious guest AND host. Why host, you ask? I am sure most of us have experienced at least one home we’ve stayed in that was super uncomfortable. Not everyone is a great guest and not everyone is a great host. We could all use reminders on how to be better at both, especially during a time of year that’s more stressful than usual. Don’t worry, though. I’m not here to lecture on what not to do. I’m here mostly to encourage positive interactions and experiences so that everyone has a wonderful holiday.

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3 Tips for the Host

1 - Be welcoming. I know this might seem obvious but I’ve stayed in a handful of places where it felt like I should walk on eggshells. Make your guests feel at home, don’t get flustered over little things you can’t control and try not to follow them around picking things up as you go. Now, this doesn’t mean to let them walk all over you and destroy your home. By all means, if the kids are coloring the walls, lose your mind. However, if your guests are staying moderately neat, pitching in and being pleasant overall, enjoy their company.

2 - Be open to help. When it comes to getting things done, I understand first-hand how tempting it is to do everything by yourself. If your guest offers to help pitch in for Thanksgiving dinner or wrapping presents, don’t turn them away. If they offer to help with something you absolutely need to do yourself, decline and ask if they could help with something else instead. Guests know that you’re doing them a great service by letting them stay with you during this high travel time. This could be a way for them to give back and there’s no reason to turn them down. Everyone could use an extra set of hands during this time of year.

3 - Enjoy time with your guests. Listen, I understand how crazy the holidays get. I understand that you have a to-do list that rivals the one Santa is working off of. However, you have guests for a reason. They’re visiting from out of town. Take advantage of the time they are with you and spend some time together. Gather together for a movie night eating the ugly Christmas cookies you won’t be serving with some hot chocolate. Go to a tree lighting ceremony or go on a last-minute shopping trip. Whatever it is you decide to do, just make sure to grab the opportunity to spend time with these friends or family since it’s obvious you don’t get to do it that often.

3 Tips for the Guest

1 - Be tidy. Treat your guest’s home as if it were your own. If cleanliness isn’t your specialty at home (no judgement here), make it your specialty for the few days you’re visiting. Your host does not double as a hotel maid. Regardless of the accommodations, we should always treat the space with respect and not bulldoze through it like a tornado but especially not in someone else’s home. It doesn’t take much effort to make the bed, fold up your clothes and keep them in a suitcase or on the bed neatly.

2 - Offer to help. If your host is also entertaining for the holiday, offer a helping hand. Know your strengths and offer specific help so they don’t need to think about it too. If you’re great in the kitchen, offer to help prepare some of the food. If you’re a great cleaner, offer to tidy up the common areas. If you’re useless in the house (again, no judgement), offer to take the kids somewhere to get them out of the way or offer to run last-minute errands. Make yourself useful because staying with family or friends is ultimately saving you hundreds of dollars from having to book a hotel.

3 - Don’t leave without giving your host a gift. What the gift is depends on who your host is but ideally, it will be something thoughtful to show you are grateful for staying with them. It’s ok to stay in a budget if funds are tight. You’re not looking for a monetary value but a thought value. The gift should be personal like a bottle of their favorite wine or a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Maybe they were telling you about a book they’ve been wanting to read but haven’t got their hands on yet. Or, that the stress of this season could really use a spa day. Take queues from what they're telling you if you're waiting until you get there to purchase a gift.