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10 Things Your Guests Might Not Be Telling You (How To Be A Great Host)

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10 Things Your Guests Might Not Be Telling You (How To Be A Great Host)

We’ve all done it, committed at least one cardinal sin of hosting. Yes, just settle in your mind right now that there are probably things your guests aren’t telling you.

Hey, even if you were a hotel you wouldn’t get a full star rating 100% of the time, and that’s okay. Everyone has different needs. But if you are hoping to be a great host, one your guests aren’t soon to forget, here are the things your guests might might not be telling you that you can fix before they show up!

Don’t be a bad host…Here’s What Your Guests Probably Aren’t Telling You

#1. Your House Has A Strong Odor

There are many things that can cause strong or unpleasant odors in a home. Everything from that strong ‘personal family odor’ (yes, some of you have a strong personal scent), to smoke or alcohol linger, to trash or garbage disposal smell in the kitchen, to pet odors, to musty or mildewy smells, and beyond. We are typically nose blind to our household smells (positive or negative).

Conversely, I have also walked into houses that smell like a candle shop, and that can also be incredibly overwhelming for some guests. For those who have a strong sense of smell, it can cause headaches and sensory overload. (FYI: Please never burn incense unless you know a guest loves it).

Your house is going to have various scents, that is unavoidable, but you can abate some of the stronger odors that sensitive guests may find unpleasant. Deep clean the areas of the house where odors tend to absorb and linger. Don’t cover up the odors with heavily flowered scents, but rather a light approach to good scent.

  • Kitchen Odors: Run citrus peel through your garbage disposal, rinse out trash cans, place a ramekin with sliced lemons, water and vanilla in your oven when you are done cooking strong smelling food.
  • Heavily carpeted areas and sofas: Deep clean with a carpet and upholstery cleaner. Because if you have pets, a fabric refresher alone won’t do it.
  • Place mildly scented items around the house: Have scented candles out, but you don’t need to light them for the mild scent to waft! Try items like citrus with cloves stuck in them as both decorative and adding a fresh scent.
Orange pomander with cloves for a fresh smelling house

#2. Your House Is Too Hot/Cold

We all have different temperature preferences, and some houses are drafty which can be miserable for those who run cold, while others are kept warm, which can be stifling for those who run hot. Try to split the difference if you are thermostat heavy in one direction or the other.

It can be hard to find the right temperature for everyone to feel comfortable, so here are some tips to help alleviate those who are feeling miserable from being overheated or are chilly.

For guests who run hot:

  • Keep cold drinks and ice on hand
  • Place a personal fan in bedrooms for overnight guests, and either a ceiling fan or a fan blowing over a specific area for those who run hot to sit near.

For guests who run cold:

  • Drape cozy throws over the arm or back of your sofa’s for guest use, or place some rolled up throws in a basket with a sign on the front that says “for guest use”
  • Keep an extra blanket at the foot of the bed for overnight guests
Blanket over the arm of a sofa for cold guests

#3. Your Pets Are Too Friendly

Shocking as this may be to some of you, not everyone loves your animals. Some people aren’t pet people, some have allergies, and others just aren’t as excited about your pets as they are about their own.

If your beloved pet is the curious or friendly type, it’s okay to bring them come out for a testing hello to see how both your pets and your guests react. If a guest picks them up and is loving on them, then all is well and they can stay out.

Otherwise, plan to move your pet into another space for the time being. Don’t ask guests if they are comfortable with your pets or have allergies…that puts them in the uncomfortable position to appear to dislike your pets or be a burden, and most will choose to be polite over being honest.

#4. You Created An Awkward Food Situation

There are so many food faux pas you could make, just avoid these big ones and you’ll be a great host or hostess!

You Didn’t Inquire About Food Allergies & Restrictions:

Food allergies and dietary restrictions are a huge whammy on a meal, so be sure to ask if your guest have any and ensure there are enough options for them.

You Aren’t Serving Enough Food / Snacks / Drinks:

When it looks like there isn’t quite enough food for everyone, often guests will refrain from taking the amount they actually want to be satisfied.

An overabundance of food is a better mistake to make than too little food.

You Asked If Guests Liked Your Dish:

You might be a great cook, but let’s remember that everyone has different taste. To them your food might be too: salty, bland, spicy, bright (citrusy/tomato-y), too heavy, too light, too rich, etc. So as a dinner host, please please PLEASE don’t ask your guests if they like a dish. It’s just not nice to corner them into paying a dishonest compliment. Let your guest offer a compliment of their own accord!

TIP: If your dinner guests are also your overnight guests, keep items like Tums on hand in a guest basket in the bedroom. Even if your food WAS great, different foods can be unexpectedly tough on a guests stomach. Don’t make them feel uncomfortable having to ask, have it provided just in case.

Dinner on a table as a great host

#5. You Didn’t Provide Important Essentials

Typically if a visitor needs something benign, they’ll ask, but there are a few things that make anyone feel awkward asking for, and it mostly starts with the bathroom space for all the possible gross things that could happen.

Make sure every bathroom has a plunger, a cleaning brush, extra toilet paper, disinfectant cleaning wipes, tissues, and a small tray with a variety of pads + tampons.

For overnight guests, don’t forget to have these niceties available right in the guest room:

  • Toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, body wash, toothpaste, extra toothbrushes,
  • Snacks & drinks: granola bars, or wrapped crackers, bottles of water
  • Extras: extra towels, extra blanket, extra pillows
  • Helpful items: breath mints, tooth pick / floss, alarm clock
  • Clothing storage: empty drawers, or extra hangers with closet space
  • Health extras: Tums (or other digestive discomfort aids), aspirin, ibuprofen, cold preventing packs (like Emergen-C or Airborn)
  • Wifi password easily seen

#6. Your Bed Is Uncomfortable

Whether it is overly hard, overly soft, too small, not well supported, has too few pillows, has uncomfortable pillows, or is just a poor quality mattress, your overnight guests probably won’t tell you if the bed is miserable.

TIP: Everyone has different mattress preferences, so if you have the luxury of a guest bedroom, it’s best to split the difference and get a Goldilocks mattress that is in between. Not too soft, and not too hard will be ‘just right’ for most people.

And yes, we may have to pull out the air mattresses, but it should be checked before guests arrive to ensure it won’t slowly deflate in the night.

Bedding TIP: Don’t use old scratch sheets for you guests. Outfit their beds with soft sheets, and wash them before use. Sometimes a sheet that has been sitting in your closet has absorbed family odors or simply doesn’t smell fresh anymore. Layer the bed with different types of bedding so guests have options. Use a comforter, a quilt, and a soft furry blanket… That extra blanket at the foot of the bed (even in summer) is handy for however your guests sleep, and they can set it aside if they don’t use it.

Time for another confession. I’m currently writing this article at 2:40am laying on the couch, while staying overnight at someone’s house. Why? Because the bed situation is so uncomfortable, I can’t sleep.

Person making a bed for hosting overnight guests

#7. The Seating Situation Is Uncomfortable

If guests are expected to be at your home for a prolonged period of time, and there isn’t enough seating, or if the seating is particularly uncomfortable, it can make things awkward.

My husband avoids going to a certain family member’s home, all because it is an uncomfortable seating experience. The eating nook isn’t very big so either we all squish into a booth where getting out for more food is a hassle, or a few of us perch in the adjacent room on bar stools. Then there isn’t enough sofa space for the whole family to all sit in one room and chat, so many of us are in an adjacent room or perched on the floor. And mind you, there is plenty of room to add extra armchairs or other seating…

If you are hosting a large group, but don’t have a large home, it can be hard to properly accommodate a crowd, so perhaps choose the size of your gathering accordingly. The main thing is to make sure there is a place to sit for everyone, and it isn’t overly uncomfortable.

Consider the ages of the group you are hosting. For a younger crowd you can use floor cushions, stackable stools, and folding chairs as extra seating. A much older group will need comfortable chairs because the floor is NOT an option. Also the personality and size of guests: bigger guests need wider sturdy chairs, some guests need that personal bubble space to be intact and can’t sit too close to someone else without anxiety.

#8. You’re Being Overly_____!

Sometimes as hosts our unconscious personality quirks can take over and make a guest feel uncomfortable. Often it isn’t until we are in a hosting situation (especially with overnight guests) that these little quirks come out. So even our most beloved friends and family can feel a little irked by some of these.

Fill in the blank, do you practice any of these annoying host habits?

  • Apologetic: Don’t tell us the food didn’t turn out good, it seems like you are fishing for compliments. Or that the house isn’t clean enough, or… Just do your best, and don’t keep apologizing! Humility is good, a self defecating attitude isn’t.
  • Fastidious: You keep spending your time cleaning instead of mingling with guests. Wait until after the party to clean. With overnight guests, wait until there has been plenty of quality chatting time before washing dishes to show you value them. Some people feel obligated/awkward if you are cleaning while they chat (even if there are lots of guests to interact with each other)
  • Talkative/Longwinded: Remember to observe cues from guests that indicate whether they are as engaged as you. For the most part, they should be conversing just as much as you. Otherwise it might mean they just aren’t that into the conversation.
  • Boozy: While everyone loves a fun host, one that is a little drunk is another story. If you drink, remember that as host you need to be clear-headed and mindful of everyone. Especially those who don’t drink.

#9. Your House Isn’t Quite Clean

Your guests don’t need to be able to do the white glove test on your house, usually a neat and tidy house is good enough, however there are certain rooms of the home that need to be sparkling clean!

  • The Bathroom: If there is a smidge of anything gross going on in here, their opinion of the rest of your house will tank. Make sure this area is sparkling clean, check it periodically to keep it that way, and keep something to handle odors in the bathroom.
  • The Kitchen: If you are feeding guests, and the surfaces aren’t clean, or there is hair or pets anywhere around the kitchen, your guests might feel grossed out.
  • The Sofa/Chairs we’re sitting on: Another location you don’t want to have hair, weird stains, bad smells, or pets sitting on when a guest arrives.

#10. You Don’t Have Anything Planned / You Are Overplanned

Guests are spending their precious vacation time with you, don’t be a bad host and ignore personal attention and activities. Have a plan for what they would like to do with that time. Whether that includes quality time chatting, an outing, or an activity. Otherwise leaving everyone to their own devices can boring, and not worth the return visit for guests.

However, you don’t want to go so far as to over plan, or be inflexible about potential activities.

This faux pax can go either way, so be sure to strike the proper balance!

REMEMBER: When it comes to holidays, everyone has a valued tradition, so be considerate and mindful to incorporate your guests preferences along with your own. That makes it a special time everyone can enjoy.

We’ve All Been There…

Besides my own horror stories of staying at homes of family and friends (sorry!), I’ve also been a horror host myself who learned uncomfortable truths from the occasional frank friend. But hosting guests in my Airbnb taught me many more lessons than the average hosting situation. You get rated on Airbnb, and over years of carefully learning to curate a comfortable rental home, you start to get a sense for what your personal guests probably aren’t telling you, and how not to be a bad host.

Being A Great Host Doesn’t Mean Being Perfect, Just Considerate…

Try to remember the main objective here, it is for you and your guests to enjoy your time with each other. So no need to stress or overthink things too much! If your friends and family love you, they’ll be back.