We're highlighting clever tips and tricks for pulling off any holiday get-together without breaking a sweat. It's Your Party, after all, so you might as well enjoy it!
With my family more than a thousand miles away in Louisiana, I’m normally the holiday house guest. But this past Thanksgiving (after a lot of lobbying), my mom, dad, and sister agreed to spend the holiday with me in New York. My fifth-floor walk-up wasn’t my parents’ idea of a vacation, so they opted for a hotel, but my sister wanted to stay with me.
Before she arrived, I scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen, swept and mopped the floors, bought her favorite cereal—I wanted everything to be perfect. And it was! For the most part. Yes, it would have been helpful if I’d remembered New York is much louder than they’re used to (adding earplugs to my list) or that I’d need to build more resting time into a pretty packed itinerary.
OK, so I realized I still have a lot to learn when it comes to hosting. Determined to do better next time, I reached out to some of the most welcoming people I know, my Food52 colleagues. Here, I’ve collected their nuggets of wisdom so you can be a host with the most, too:
"The simplest things like: pulling out towels in advance so they don't have to ask, making sure TP and hand-soap are stocked in the bathroom, and it's also a great excuse to make a dessert or treat you've been wanting to try out." —Kaitlin Bray, Director of Social Media
"My boyfriend is always hosting visitors, and absolutely lives for it. It actually feels like he has people coming to town every two to three months and that ramps up even more during the holidays! He always has an extra two to three sets of keys at the ready so that his guests can come and go if he's not around, makes a list of places to take where they should go (ranging from how often they've come to New York City before), and oftentimes blocks off a Friday or Saturday with mutual friends who live in the area to meet up at a bar for drinks or food so everyone has a chance to catch up. He also has multiple sets of sheets/blankets, pillows, and two air-mattresses that he can pull from at any time." —Rebekah Daniels, Account Manager
"One of my favorite things to do when someone stays with me, especially during the holidays, is to buy matching pajamas for everyone. There's something just so cute and corny about it that really gets me in the Christmas spirit. Plus, it'll really make your guest feel special and cared for—and almost like they're staying at a nice hotel! This year, I picked up a few sets at T.J. Maxx (it's by the office, which is amazingly dangerous) but you can also find a bunch of fun, inexpensive options at Target." —Erin Alexander, Assistant Editor, Partner Content
"I love to get slippers they can wear in the house and take home after (only $6 at Muji!), share a Google Map with pins of my favorite neighborhood spots, buy TJ's flowers for the room, put a piece of nice chocolate on their pillow (because I love pretending I'm a hotel with turndown service), get the latest issue of Time Out for some before-bed reading, and spray my favorite linen spray on the sheets and pillows." —Eunice Choi, Director, Brand Activation
"I get anxious my guests will be hungry or want a cocktail, so I stock up on tons of snacks and beverages. I like to arrange flowers all over the house (including in the guests' bedroom) to make sure they feel at home and comfortable. Also, don't turn down any help from your guests." —Sarah Yaffa, Data Analyst
"I like to give two options for dinner and drinks, one that's a bit casual (but special!) like Tørst in my neighborhood, or another that's a classic N.Y.C. experience, such as Freemans in SoHo. Most importantly, I try to remember to go-with-the flow and let spontaneity happen." —Aja Aktay, Buyer for Home, Outdoor, & Vintage
"I usually make it a point to have something to nibble on or sip right when guests arrive. After a flight or a long drive, having a small bite can make a big difference for their energy (...and mood). Other than that it's just the usual stuff: Clean the house, buy fresh flowers, stock the fridge with an absurd amount of snacks, wine, and seltzer. Oh, and I also try to keep some extra toothbrushes and earplugs on hand! Some folks aren't used to the sounds of New York, and nothing is worse than being kept up by someone's snoring when you're packed into close quarters. I'm obsessed with these from Hay but the drug store kind work just as well." —Cory Baldwin, Director of Partner Content
"So simple, but if you have early risers, either set your coffee maker the night before or lay out your keys and directions to your favorite coffee spot. That way they have a seamless and caffeinated morning, while you get a couple more zzz's." —Kaitlyn Duvall, Senior Account Manager
"I have this incredible air mattress that makes having people over quite manageable. But the main way I survive long-stay guests is by creating little quiet moments for myself, like a massage or having a quick drink at my favorite bar. What this helps me do is have some alone time so I can go back to my guest feeling sane again." —Eric Kim, Senior Editor
"Aside from offering everyone snacks and drinks every hour on the hour and planning a full itinerary of restaurant and activity options, I try to give my guests a little space at some point every day. It keeps things from feeling overwhelming for all of us—myself included—and lets people stick to their own routines, whether that's yoga in the morning or a nap before dinner, or even just 20 minutes of zone out time scrolling through Instagram." —Cory Baldwin, Director of Partner Content
How do you make your house guests feel comfortable? Share your favorite strategies in the comments below!