The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day marks one of the busiest periods of the year for long-distance travel. The United States Department of Transportation says that come Thanksgiving, the number of long-distance trips (50+ miles away) increases by 54 percent, and around Christmas that number rises by 23 percent over the remainder of the year. Those travelers ultimately need a place to rest their heads, and many stay with family and friends.
Entertaining during the holiday season involves accounting for guests’ comfort, and that often means hosts must put their visitors’ needs over their own. Although some sacrifices need to be made, there is a way to find a happy compromise that can help the holidays go smoothly and happily. Consider these ways to help guests feel welcome whether they stay for a few hours or a few days.
1. Cater to specific dietary needs. One of the ways to treat guests kindly is by being aware of any special dietary needs they may have when it comes to preparing holiday meals or other foods during their visits. Some guests may require low-sodium diets, while others may be monitoring their blood-sugar levels and must dine accordingly. Vegetarians and vegans limit the foods they eat, while others may avoid foods based on religious preferences. Offer a variety of foods and try to cater to guests’ needs as much as possible. When in doubt, consult with the guest so he or she feels welcome and does not go hungry.
2. Make sleeping spaces as private as possible. Not everyone has a separate guest room for overnight stays, but try to make sleeping areas as private as you can when visitors spend the night. Use privacy screens or set guests up in a family room that’s away from the center of activity. Hosts may want to give up their own rooms for the comfort of guests.
3. Offer storage space. One way to make guests feel comfortable is to give them their own storage space. This can include space in a closet, a couple of drawers to stow their belongings, or hangers in the entryway for coats and other winter attire. Not only will this keep things more organized, it can provide guests with comfort.
4. Include guests when preparing for entertaining. Many guests like to feel involved, and by including them in meal preparation, decorating or shopping, you can help them feel included and appreciated.
5. Keep snacks and other creature comforts readily accessible. Guests may feel sheepish scavenging through cabinets or drawers looking for items. Make things easy to find by leaving items out on counters or indicating where items can be found. For example, if you know a guest enjoys an evening cup of tea and some cookies, leave out the cookies, tea bags and kettle so that he or she can indulge when the urge comes.
Guests are a large part of the holiday season. Help them feel comfortable whenever they visit your home.