There are a lot of well-known Benjamin Franklin quotes; in fact, there’s a whole book of them. My husband bought a copy of it on a business trip to Boston as a present for our daughter, Annabel. She’s a 10-year-old history fanatic and he thought she’d like it. He was right. To honor the beginning of houseguest season, I thought it only appropriate to share a quote from Franklin: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

If you’ve ever had houseguests, I don’t care how dearly they are loved, sometimes nerves can get a little frayed when everyone is under the same roof.  As a hostess, it’s your job to make sure guests feel welcome and comfortable. And to keep peace, harmony, and sanity in the house.

When we have guests for the holidays, I kind of think of myself as the director. I make plans for entertainment and meals, shop, and make sure we have everything necessary for all of our plans in the house. Planning is key to a successful visit. I spend hours planning and shopping; when guests arrive, everything is on autopilot and I’m able to enjoy spending time with family and friends. Here are some tips guests staying in your home:

Use Paper Plates and Cups

Buy paper plates, disposable cups, utensils and paper napkins! This will make life so much easier. You won’t need to worry about running the dishwasher three times a day or running out of forks for pumpkin pie. I have found that exactly zero people are ever offended by this. And if you’re not washing dishes you’re actually able to talk to the people that came there to see you anyway. And don’t forget a sharpie to write names on cups.


Meal Plan

I plan all meals for the duration of the stay. I know when we will be going out to a restaurant and when we’ll be having meals at home. I buy all of the groceries needed and take note of any special dietary requests. By the way, this is way more organized than I am in my normal, non-houseguest life. A Honey Baked Ham is always present at some point during the holidays, we’ll usually have it as a meal and the leftovers will be eaten for days after.  If I buy Hawaiian rolls to go with it, my kids will make sandwiches for themselves for days until the ham (or bread) is gone.


Premade Breakfast

I stock up on frozen breakfast items, yogurt, bagels, cereal, fruit and make sure I have plenty of eggs on hand. If you don’t have a Sam’s Club membership, now is a great time to get one. If I’m feeling especially domestic, I’ll make a breakfast casserole to pop in the oven one morning. Everyone usually gets up at different times, so I let our houseguests know where things are and usually breakfast is on your own.

Local Attractions

Have some guests that want to explore a bit on their own? It’s always a good idea for everyone to have a little personal time. Have a list of local things that are going on. I try to have several options available, and who knows? You may all want to go!



Make sure you have extra toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap and shampoo, especially if you have guests flying in. Some of these are difficult to fly with. An extra hair dryer might not be a bad idea too! And if you’re behind on laundry, make sure you have enough towels in the bathroom for all of your extra guests. I would tell you to have enough toilet paper, but I’m going to assume you already know that.


Football Schedule

We have family from all over the United States, and some of their football teams aren’t very popular here. I mean seriously, I’ve had to teach some how to call the Hogs. I try to find what channel their team’s game will be on and the time, and let them know in case they want to watch.


Board Games

Board games are always fun, for adults and kids. Some of our family favorite games are the classics like Scrabble and Monopoly, but and I really want to get the Pie in the Face game this year. Board games are a great way to spend time together!



Have plenty of coffee, regular and decaf. Show everyone where the coffeemaker is and how to use it. We have one persnickety uncle (Uncle Rich, I’m talking about you) that only drinks half and half in his coffee, so I make sure that’s on hand too.


Trash Bags

Have lots of trash bags. You will need them for all of the paper plates.


Wifi Password

Hopefully no one is on electronics very much during all this family bonding time, but you will eventually be asked for your wifi password. Write it down and stick it on the fridge so it’s accessible for anyone who needs it.


Gather Extra Pillows and Blankets

Know where everyone is sleeping and make sure you have enough pillows and blankets for everyone. If you have an air mattress that you’re using, make sure you have a pump to blow it up. It’s good to check for holes before your guests arrive too.


And there you go! The recipe for domestic bliss over the holidays. What could go wrong? However, if this doesn’t work, and your houseguests begin to remind you a bit of fish, there’s always the hotel option.