Tag, you’re it. You’re the house everyone is coming to for the holidays this year. You’re pretty good on coming up with a menu, and you’re a whiz at decorating.

You just don’t know where to PUT the guests from out of town who will be staying overnight. This is a dilemma that plagues those in the 2-bedroom bungalow, as well as the 5-bedroom mini estate. It’s a fact of life: we grow into the space we have. Things in duplicate and triplicate spill out of closets. That guest room becomes our own private storage facility.

So what do you do? How do you make room for the in-laws?

The Guest Room

Don’t overpower the room with potpourri or scented candles unless you know that’s how the person lives in his own home. Many people are allergic to strong scents, so the private lair you’re building may turn into a nightmare for your guest. Instead, concentrate on the basics.

Crisp sheets are a must. Open the drapes. A bed throw with a holiday theme carries your holiday festivities into your guest room.


Most of us take over every closet in the house through a slow, encroachment process. But there is nothing as unwelcoming to a guest as inviting him into your home, then asking him to live out of his suitcase. Clean out the guest room closet. That’s not as daunting as it sounds. With this article, I’m not asking you to CLEAN your closet in the real sense of the word – -just CLEAR it. For now, put the stuff in the basement or attic, or at a friend’s house. Another option that can be useful in the future is one of those free-standing wardrobes. These can be disassembled when not in use.
Another option to store the closet material is under the bed. Under-the-bed organizers come with wheels for easy access, clear plastic, etc. You can make room by making use of space that typically goes unused.


Clear off the top of a dresser so the guest can put out his/her own comfort items. A vase full of fresh flowers is a great personal touch. It shows you went to the trouble especially for them.


A TV in the room, even if it’s your 13” portable standby is a good thing to bring into the room. Your guests may have a habit of winding down to the late night news just before bed. The idea is to make them feel at home. If the TV has a VCR or CD player, so much the better. Love your relatives or not, we all need a little alone time, especially during the breakneck-speed of the holidays.

The Special Somethings for the Bath

You may not be able to dedicate a bathroom to your guests, but you can make their alone time in the bathroom special. Put together a basket of lotions, bath gels, a loofah, a pumice stone, and any other niceties. Think of things people don’t often treat themselves to – -bubble bath for example. Remember, it has been a long trip for them, and a soak in the tub may be just the thing to cure what ails them.

Provide an over the door hook on the inside bedroom door or inside the closet, so your guest has a place to put his robe. If the family is sharing a bathroom, this is a necessity.


Most people have their favorites when it comes to shampoos, soap, and conditioner. If you don’t know the likes and dislikes, provide a small plastic container so your guest can take his/her items into the bathroom all at once. When he’s done, the items can be stored back in the container, always at hand.

A Goodie Basket

A teacup with a few biscotti or decadent cookies is a pleasant surprise after a long plane or auto trip. How about those mints cruise ships put on your pillow at turn downtime? (And turning down the bed while your guests are busy with family activity is another way to add a special touch.) If you know your relative loves “cozy” mysteries, an Agatha Christie paperback shows you’ve been listening. Also, throw in a few magazines, making sure there’s a variety.

How Can I Help?

Expect this question. You don’t want to overload your guest, but you want to include him/her in the festivities. You will be running around with all sorts of last-minute details, so keep a few things your out-of-town guests can help with. If you’re dealing with grandparents, give them something they can do with the grandchildren, so they are visiting as well as crossing one more thing off your list.

Listen Up

Know that all of your best-laid plans involving guests may turn on a dime. You may have prepared a mini-chore list for them to keep them involved, and they may have made plans to visit other relatives/friends in the city to keep out of your hair. Don’t take it personal. When quarters are close, and exhaustion sets in, tempers can flare. That’s not what this is about. You’ve spent a lot of time making sure the environment is welcoming to your guests. Continue that theme with your behavior.

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