How to Be the Ultimate Summer Host

July 10, 2017

The season for getaways is upon us and whether you’re readying your home to play host or packing a weekend bag as a guest, we’re here to bring you a little primer on the best ways to prepare to ensure maximum relaxation and comfort for all parties. Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette, will be sharing practical, often straight-shooting advice in a series of posts addressing common summertime scenarios. Our first will center around ways to be a great host (spoiler: anticipate). We hope these points will serve as helpful guidelines rather than rigid rules, meant to complement your existing customs and routines.

Ever wonder how a veritable etiquette expert would weigh in on a social conundrum? Be sure to leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

The best hosts are those who plan ahead and make their guests feel as comfortable and happy as possible from the moment they arrive! The trick is to anticipate your guest’s needs. It’s a fair amount of work to prepare and host, even for just a weekend; however, your guests will leave feeling so taken care of and impressed if you follow these hosting tips:

Prepare the House: Clean & Stocked

  • Ahead of their stay, and as soon as they RSVP, ask your guests if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • A few days before your guests arrive, make sure you do a good shop to ensure you have everything you’ll need. From extra toilet paper to a variety of drinks and snacks to offer them.
  • The one to two days before they arrive, the house should be sparkling clean.

Prepare the Room

Before your guest arrives, you should have everything organized and laid out in the guest room. Here is a list of suggested items you may want to include:

  • Fresh set of towels folded and laid on a side chair or table (I recommend two of each size towel per person)
  • One pitcher of water with one glass per person or bottles of water
  • A tray with a little snack on it (the more tailored & thoughtful, the more impressive!). So if your guest is a health nut, a selection of protein bars, or if your guest has a sweet tooth, little packaged sweets.
  • Vase of fresh flowers
  • Magazines or newspaper that you think they will like
  • Their own set of keys to the home so they can come and go as they please
  • In the bathroom, make sure it’s stocked with everything your guest may need: a little basket of extra hand towels, toothpaste, mini soaps, shampoo and conditioner. If you have small travel-sized bottles, this is a great time to put them out! Make sure to have spare tooth brushes on hand.
  • An alarm clock
  • Lightly scented candle with matches
  • House shoes
  • A robe
  • Night light or lamp
  • Make sure there is closet space (with hangers) and drawer space where possible for your guests to unpack.
  • A place to put their suitcase
  • Bed linens should be crisp, clean and the bed should be neatly made; an extra blanket and two pillows per person (one firm and one soft)
  • Home Info.: Put together a little card that includes all the information they will need during their stay, from the Wifi code to the home address, and any contact numbers they may need.
  • If they are in town and do not know the city, a small city guide is a great idea
  • Check the weather: Will they need an umbrella?

Make Your Guests Feel Comfortable from the Moment They Walk in:

  • Always have snacks and drinks ready upon arrival. If it’s in the morning, why not put out a fresh pot of coffee and a tray of bagels with cream cheese and salmon.
  • Set the mood. A festive and fun weekend? Select music that matches the mood upon your guest’s arrival.
  • Show your guests around so they are as relaxed and at home as possible. As you walk through your mini-tour, explain little things that make them feel at ease: “Please help yourself to anything in the fridge at any time!” Show them where cups, bowls, wine, and silverware are so they can feel they are welcome to help themselves.

Let the Weekend Begin!

  • Have a plan: Ask ahead if there are any wishes of your guests in terms of things they really want to see or do. Then it’s up to you to organize and coordinate the plans for the weekend. This could simply mean making restaurant reservations ahead or researching fun activities to do.
  • Be considerate of space: Do not go into the room or space you have given to the guest while they are staying with you, unless you ask them first.
  • You should wake up before your guest or at least at the same time so you can make sure the coffee is brewing and you’re there to entertain.
  • Last impressions are almost important as first: A thoughtful takeaway gift as they leave your home is an added element of surprise that is sure to make your guests smile (for example, when you leave my house in Florida, you’ll get a box of little chocolates in the shape of palm trees).

How do you like to prepare for guests and make them feel most welcome? What are the biggest challenges to playing host (be honest)? Share them with us below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Annea R
    Annea R
  • Peony
  • Kelly C
    Kelly C
  • Mariek
  • Negative Nellie
    Negative Nellie
Founder of Beaumont Etiquette & Plaza Hotel Finishing Program


Annea R. July 12, 2017
I love all these tips. I always try to do these things even when I invite guests on vacation or even if they are just visiting and staying elsewhere. Always good to keep lots of snacks in the house. My FIL is gluten free and we try to keep that in mind. A lot of these can be found at Costco, dried fruits, nuts and jams that don't bad if unused.
myka M. July 19, 2017
Such great ideas! It really is not about the money or amount you spend, but the thought that is put into hosting...and I'm sure your father in law is so grateful for little gestures like that!! Bravo
Peony July 12, 2017
I'm weighing in here in the spirit of thinking critically about the diversity of Food52 content. This post appears aimed at readers who are upper middle class or wealthy, have a lot of time on their hands as well as extra space. It isn't possible for some to buy new towels or purchase food that may go unused. I imagine there was no ill intent but just a lack of thinking about class diversity. When I think about some of the divisive political atmosphere in our country, this article exemplifies a kind of class bubble where the real life concerns of some Americans are invisible. And, no, I'm not suggesting the current political divides are only about this, just pointing out that this is one of many issues. As a side note, this also seems aimed at hosting people you don't know that well. I'm a pretty thoughtful host and guest and this seems slightly over the top and could actually make some guest feel uncomfortable.
Kelly C. July 11, 2017
I love these thoughtful suggestions! It's wonderful when you feel at home after a long day of travel. I love how realistic and down to earth these tips are! Looking forward to more!
myka M. July 19, 2017
Thank you for the sweet note! I completely agree - nothing better to arrive to! It's the thought that always counts, and these tips are meant to only make others around them feel totally at home and cared for! Even just sprinkling in a few of these tips here and there can make a big difference.
Mariek July 11, 2017
This is meant sarcasticly, surely? Please tel me people woud not seriously consider doing al that unles they have a verry highpriced b&n?
Negative N. July 10, 2017
Or give them the name and number of a nice hotel or Air B and B in the area!
Nibbles July 10, 2017
Yikes. Or-- maybe consider--- find more low key friends.