11 Ways to Plan Ahead for House Guests

Both You and Your Guests Will Love the Visit

vase of flowers guest bedroom table
Helen Rushbrook / Stocksy United

If you love having family and friends stay at your home, you might have wonderful ideas of your own about how to spend the time together. But if you dread the work, the cooking, the endless deciding what to do, and all the laundry when they leave, you might want to read our tips for entertaining house guests.

The commotion is augmented by already-full days of work, kids' activities, cooking, and running errands. If your schedule includes a visit from family members or special friends, a bit of planning and organization ahead of time will help the time fly and both you and your guests will be looking forward to the next visit.

  • Offer a Small Welcome Gift
    Let your guests know that you're happy they're with you by leaving a small "welcome gift" in their bedroom. And I mean small! A sachet, paperback book, flyers of local attractions at museums or a clipping with movie listings at the movie theater. And a pretty vase with fresh flowers is always a welcome gift! Don't forget a short note to greet them.
  • Plan Every Meal
    Make a schedule of meals for the time your guests will be with you. That doesn't mean that you have to cook for them all. If your visitors are just going to be with you for a couple of days, you might be able to prepare most things ahead of time. If the visit will be longer, include dining out options, both informal and special, call for pizza, and ask your guests to plan and prepare a meal or two. Make a checklist of menus and ingredients, how many you'll have to feed, who will be in charge, and who will clean up.
    If you have special activities planned, include the meal start times and departure times so everyone is ready on time.
  • Don't Try to Do It All
    There's no better way to make a house guest feel uncomfortable than to be working, cleaning, and cooking the whole time your guests are with you. Give you and your guests a chance to relax and really enjoy each other. No one will care if the kitchen is sparkling or the sheets are ironed. And when there is work to do, accept every offer wash the dishes or set the table. Be a team and let everyone enjoy!
  • Have a Plan
    Make a written list of things to do and try to have a loose schedule for each day of the visit. Don't waste time planning at the last minute or the time will fly by. Once you've all decided what you'll do, make sure everyone is ready to go as scheduled.
  • Plan for Private Visits and "Downtime"
    Don't schedule every minute of the visit. Be sure you can spend time just visiting, playing card games, assembling a puzzle, reading a book, or doing crossword puzzles. Ask one guest to go on errands with you so you can visit one-on-one. Suggest a special movie for cousins of the same age. Send someone on a mission with one of your children. This "downtime" will surely create special memories.
  • Let Everyone Pitch In
    Whenever my brothers come to visit, I have a list of things that I need help with. Ron is the computer whiz and can get anything straightened out. Barry does the electrical and plumbing fix-it jobs. I don't think they mind and it's a great help for me. If your house guest has particular talents, ask for some help.
  • Plan for Play Time
    Do you notice how little ones always want to show you their favorite new toy or read their newest book? Allow for plenty of time doing just what they want. Ask about their friends, their school work, their sports, and their thoughts. This special one-on-one time is what memories are made of.
  • Prepare Your Guest Room
    Be sure to have a comfortable guest room for even the shortest visit. Read our tips on creating a perfect guest room.
  • Get Out of the House
    With extra people in the house, you might feel overwhelmed. Check out schedules for plays, concerts, movies, or museum exhibitions. If you are able, buy the tickets so that there's no excuse for not going. Be sure everyone knows the schedule.
  • Have Fun Outside
    Depending on the weather where you live, plan a long hike, a bike ride, go ice skating at a local rink, or even plan a picnic in the local park. If it's too chilly, drive a way to a new town for luncheon at a charming cafe, hike indoors around the local mall, or visit a rec center where everyone can work out on their machine or activity of choice.
  • Show and Tell
    For an activity that doesn't cost a penny, give your guests a tour of your lives. Visit your children's school, show off your daughter's music school or your son's workout gym. Take a break with a stop at a favorite coffee shop or ice cream parlor. Or plan a day tour of your hometown's hot spots or historic landmarks.