How to Make Your Guests for the Holidays Feel Right at Home

And the secret of pre and post guest planning.

How to Make Your Guests for the Holidays Feel Right at Home

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As the festive season approaches, invitations to family and friends are flying around faster than snow in a Dickensian Christmas scene.

But whether it’s an afternoon lunch or a full weekend, having people over can make even the most practised host feel intimidated. So here are some tips to help you organise a fun and memorable get together, avoiding the stress that can so easily get in the way.

The vibe that we create for guests is the best version of our regular home life. We want to present a cosy, relaxed home with low lighting, great music and a delicious cocktail on the go.

But isn’t it also lovely when you visit friends and family and the hosts are cracking on as usual? There may be an guitar being practised, a dog in need of a walk, possibly a small argument going on somewhere and guacamole getting whizzed: ‘mi casa es su casa’ as they say.

To create a scene in which everyone can relax and enjoy each other's company, get organised with some of the work done before and after the guests arrive.

Things to do before your guests arrive

  • Set a roadmap. If staying over, casually find out how long they’re staying, so you can plan meals. It prevents awkwardness and lays down a plan for the visit

  • Set the table. It’s very welcoming and sets the scene

  • Make the beds. Setting up beds in front of your guests looks like work, not the effortless vibe you want to create

  • Cook the meal. Following a recipe while listening to your guests respond to “How are you?” can be frazzling. Nothing beats a pot of something delicious bubbling away on the stove, and it allows you to focus on your guests and making drinks. Alternatively, you could have a dish ready to go into the oven when your guests arrive, with a bowl of snacks at the ready.

  • Run the vacuum over. No brainer, but good hosting means you don’t see behind the scenes too much, avoiding the event looking like work

  • Stage the home. Light the candles before they arrive and it’ll relax you as well as your guests. And decide what’s ok to leave out, like a current sewing project and what needs packing away, like the bicycle split up into parts and getting an overhaul.

  • Clean your drinking glasses. If they’re the ‘good ones’ they may be out of practice and a bit dusty. It’s a drag to be washing up in order to prepare drinks.

  • Clear laundry away. Just… do it. Pants and socks drying is just way too much information.

Things you can do after your guests arrive

  • Dessert. So long as you don’t need to focus too much, crumble anyone? And if they ask to help, however much of a perfectionist you are, say “Great, thanks”. Guests are often happier when contributing, even if it’s just mashing something in a bowl

  •  Putting snacks out, fresh.

Extra touches

  • For weekenders a fresh bath sheet and a hand towel on the bed

  • If there’re children involved, leave a little surprise under the pillow, or if there’s a dog, a dog treat ready to be offered

  • If they’re staying over, have a game or some pens and paper you can bring out for kids that will keep them involved in the gathering, or if that fails, a suitable movie at the ready

  • Have some paper boxes to package any leftovers up, people love to take a slice of something away

  • For sleepovers, put some books in the room and a bedside light

  • A few simple flowers are a lovely idea too


Have a spare toothbrush and plenty of toilet roll, plus a phone charger ready to lend. And it’s for times like these that travel toiletries can be a lifesaver and save someone having to go off to find a shop.

General tips for hosting

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Sounds obvious, but if you work too hard at trying to be perfect, once your guests leave you can feel like you just serviced a long-haul flight rather than have had any fun. 

Consider staggering the arrival times of multiple guests. That way you can give each guest's arrival your full attention and it stops the home chat from feeling like a corporate presentation.

Don’t stress the seating

People sitting on a mish-mash of stools, crates and outdoor chairs are all part of the festive pile-in, and no one can see that stuff once everyone’s at the table.

Estates East Team

Call us >> 020 8520 9300

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