The majority of Americans will be on the go for part of this year’s holiday season: an estimated 71 percent are planning to take at least one trip between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, up 6 percent from last year, according to the 2015 holiday survey.

If you’re hosting family or friends this winter, now is the perfect time to survey your abode.

“Focus on creating a memorable experience for your guests,” suggested Tiffany Mason, founder of Mason Coaching and Consulting, LLC.

Follow these steps to make your guests feel welcome and at home as soon as they arrive.


Check the details of the entryway.

“Think curb appeal,’” said Patricia Davis Brown, interior designer and founder of “You would be amazed at what a little landscaping does to improve the first impression of your home.”

Start with the basics: Do your exterior lights work? Is paint chipping on the front door?

In addition to making any repairs, add a new rug or welcome mat.

Inside, allow plenty of space for guests to come in and hang coats. If you regularly keep baskets with sports gear or magazines in the entryway, find a new spot for them or store the materials until guests leave.

Keep the guest room clutter free.

While you may ordinarily use the guest room as a storage area for your off season wardrobe and extra books, now is the time to make room for the luggage guests will bring. Keep knick-knacks on dressers few and far between so your visitors have space to place their laptops, keys, and other small items.

If you’re crunched for time, focus on clearing the area, suggested Scott Roewer, certified professional organizer and founder of The Organizing Agency.

“Put everything in boxes that doesn’t belong,” Roewer said.

Then set a date on your calendar when you will have more time to go through the goods in the boxes. Make sure a few essentials remain, such as a good reading lamp, a bedside table and extra blankets.


Remove odors.

If you have pets or are concerned about pet smells, have the carpet professionally cleaned or use a carpet deodorizer that gets vacuumed up, advised Roewer.

If you’re worried the guest bedroom smells musty, open a window in the room a couple of days before guests arrive. Set a bowl of vinegar out for 24 hours to clear out lingering odors.

For smells in furniture, a spray such as FreshWave, which uses natural ingredients to get rid of odors, may help.

Prep the eating area.

“We get used to having some clutter in the spaces where we spend a lot of time,” said Sharon Lowenheim, certified professional organizer in New York City and founder of Organizing Goddess, Inc.

Since guests tend to linger near the food around the holidays, you’ll want the area clean and clutter free. Study main areas the way a stranger would view them.

“Look at items you always have on your table or on your kitchen counter and ask if most people would think that those items belong there,” said Lowenheim.

Put away extra food items, pencils and stacks of papers. If you don’t have an island or buffet for food, consider getting a wheeled cart to use as a temporary setup. You may want to get dining room chairs upholstered for comfortable seating. Make sure the lighting is adequate in both the dining room and kitchen.

Also wipe off the stove, refrigerator, microwave, and small appliances in your kitchen. Clean the counters, sinks, and the inside and outside of cabinets.


Make the guest bath hotel-ready.

If your guests will need some assistance, consider putting hand rails in the tub or shower. If the shower head needs to be replaced, install an upgraded version.

“Stock the guest bathroom with fresh towels,” said Davis Brown.

Also set out travel-sized bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, and other toiletries in a basket. For a finishing touch, add an essential oil burner with a relaxing scent, such as lavender.

Clear your mind – and theirs.

Walk through the rest of your home and evaluate the clutter.

“Simplicity is definitely the way to go,” said Mason. “It would be better to stay in a home where there aren’t as many interior decorations than a home with too many decorations.”

As a final preparation, ask your guests ahead of time if they have food or beverage preferences, such as cream, milk, sugar or artificial sweeteners for coffee. Also check for any food allergies.

Put a book you’ve read and enjoyed recently on the nightstand in the guestroom, and leave a piece of paper out with the Wi-Fi password for your place.

“Those are the extra touches that make someone feel welcome,” said Roewer.

Need to make some room for guests? Find and book an affordable storage unit online here.

Rachel Hartman