Preparing Your Home for Holiday Visitors

Kitchen Photo Rebecca West

Photo: Rebecca West Interior Designer (

Thanksgiving is one week from today. Are you preparing for holiday visitors? Here are some tips to get your home not just family ready, but “company ready”.

Prep the Porch:

This is the first thing guests see when visiting your home, so make sure it is well lit, freshly swept, and touch-up any chipped paint around windows and doors. You can add flowers or plants, or just make sure weeds and any dead plants are removed. Here in Arizona, spiders are an issue, so make sure to sweep the spider webs away and deter any Arizona creepy-crawly guest you don’t want visiting for the holidays. If you live in colder climates, keep the walkways free of ice and fallen leaves or any other walkway hazard.


Make sure outside lights are working so your guests don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after dark.

Guest Room:

1) Give the guest room a deep cleaning. Clean the curtains and wipe the blinds. Clean the floor and dust the shelves. You never know what allergies your guests might have.

2) If you have carpet or rugs and they are spotted or looking dingy, have them cleaned.

3) Clear out some closet and drawer space and make sure you have hangers for your guests to hang their clothes. Also provide a place for them to put their suitcase.

4) Provide a bedside clock and reading lamp. Not everyone goes to bed or wakes at the same time.

5 ) Make sure you have fresh linens on the bed and provide an extra blanket and pillow. Martha Stewart suggests having four pillows on a queen bed. Two medium or firm, and two soft.

6) Make sockets available near the bed. If you live in an older home, you can buy plug-in surge protector/sockets with USB ports to make charging devices easier for your guests.

7) Empty the wastebasket.

8) Provide a box of tissues on the nightstand.

9) If the guest room also serves another purpose, put away papers and toys that might be in there and remove anything you may need from the room during their stay.

10) If you have a guest room, consider replacing the light fixture with a ceiling fan so your guests can adjust the temperature without moving your thermostat temperature settings.

11) If you don’t have a guest room and are making use of public space like a sofa or air mattress in a public room, consider using a folding screen or rolling bookcase for privacy.


1) Remove all towels, washcloths and rugs, and wash them.

2) Spray shower/tub walls with diluted vinegar and let it sit, then scrub with a hard-bristle brush and rinse. If you live in Arizona, our hard water can leave mineral deposits around sink and tub drains. If they are not coming up easily, you can use scissors or a razor blade to scrape off the residue. Some also suggest using steel wool.

3) Wipe down all cabinetry and counter tops with appropriate cleaners. You can use tinted wood markers or tinted furniture polish to touch up any scuffs or scratches in your wood cabinetry.

4) Clean windows, fans, mirrors, and countertop containers.

5) Make sure the bathroom fan and window are in operating condition. Ventilation is an important part of keeping your bathroom clean and mildew-free.

6) Empty the wastebasket.

7) Sweep and mop the floor, and wipe down the baseboards. If you live in Arizona, you know we have lots of dust. Sometimes that even sticks to the walls. You can use a Swiffer and give the walls a quick wipe down.

8) Place extra toilet paper, towels and toiletries in a place that is visible. If you don’t have extra shelf space, then add a basket with these items. (This is a good time to repurpose those extra hotel toiletries you never use.)

9) Some helpful items to have on hand in case your guest forgot something: shampoo and conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, disposable razor and shaving cream, cotton balls and swabs, hand cream, holiday first-aid supplies such as pain reliever and acid reducer for those hearty turkey dinners.

10) Provide a tub matt to avoid slips.

11) Replace freshly washed or vacuumed rugs and any laundered items. Martha Stewart suggests having two large bath towels, two face towels, and a washcloth for each guest. Consider using holiday themed towels (or at least a holiday hand towel) to keep with the spirit of the season.

12) Add a nightlight so you guests can find their way in the dark. If you’ve traveled any, you will know the feeling of waking up somewhere in a pitch-black room and not remembering where you are. Adding a night light can help. Add a festive one for the holiday season.

Just like with a guest room that does double duty, a bathroom used by other members of the family should be decluttered as much as possible. Move any items not used on a regular basis to inside cabinets and create space for your guests.


After a deep clean of your kitchen, here are some additional tips to help with traffic flow and help your guests find what they need.

1) Create a simple breakfast station. Keep fresh fruit, breakfast cereals and other essentials together on the counter for early risers. Give guests a quick kitchen tour the night before so they can get their morning coffee or tea without waiting for you in the morning.

2) If your kitchen is small, move your coffee station into a family room or dining room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals.

3) If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can sit and visit without interrupting the flow of the kitchen.

4) To provide more space in your kitchen, try installing appliances under countertops or consider investing in a kitchen island.

5) Check the condition of the countertops, cabinets, and appliances. Replacing the appliances can make a huge difference when you’re preparing meals for large groups. (And a little tip from someone who works at a home appliance store – the Black Friday sales on appliances usually start mid-November so if you need new appliances you can get a good deal and still have it installed before Thanksgiving.)


These are some tips that will hopefully help you make your guests feel right at home for the holidays. If you can think of any other helpful tips, comment on this post and share with us what has worked for you or what you’ve experienced as a guest yourself.



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