Your Checklist for Quick Houseguest Prep

Follow these 7 steps to get your home ready in a hurry for overnight visitors

By Laura Gaskill  / Courtesy of

Have only a little time before your guests are due to arrive? Check these seven must-dos off your list and you can be sure you haven’t forgotten something in the mad rush to get ready. And if you do find yourself with a bit of extra time, pick from a bonus checklist of nice extras to add to the guest bedroom and bath, to make your guests’ stay even sweeter.

The Must-Dos

1. Tidy up. Things don’t need to be perfect; just spend a few minutes gathering stray items and putting them back where they belong. Clear out your mail tray, take out the trash and recycling, and wipe down surfaces.

2. Make the guest bed with fresh sheets. Put crisp, clean sheets on the bed and set out a stack of extra blankets and pillows. While you’re in the guest room, take a moment to tidy up, removing any items that belong elsewhere. 

3. Check lighting and privacy. Change lightbulbs if needed in bedside lamps, and be sure windows have coverings.

4. Clean and restock the bathroom. While most guests couldn’t care less about a few dust bunnies under the furniture, the bathroom is one place where it’s essential to spend a little extra time cleaning. Clean the sink, mirrors, toilet, shower and tub, and mop the floor. Take out the trash, refill the hand soap and set out fresh rolls of toilet paper and stacks of towels.

5. Get your house info together. If you plan to lend your guest a key, be sure to put it on its own keychain that is easy to distinguish from your guest’s own keys. Write down your Wi-Fi password, emergency numbers and any household instructions on a card — and keep a copy on your computer so you can find it easily the next time a guest comes to stay.

6. Stock up on morning essentials. Most people are creatures of habit in the mornings and like to have their “usual.” Ask ahead what sort of hot drink or breakfast item your guests prefer in the morning, and put tea- or coffee-making supplies and food items (fresh fruit, granola) together in one easy-to-access spot on the kitchen counter. Point this out to your guests when you’re giving them the tour, and they can help themselves in the morning without having to wait for you.

7. Kidproof your space if needed. Have a friend with young children coming? Of course as the parent, your friend will need to be responsible for keeping an eye on the kids, but there are a few things you can do to smooth the way and make things easier on everyone. To prepare for toddlers and young children, move fragile items onto higher shelves, store medications in a secure cabinet and lock cabinets or rooms that you do not want kids getting into. If you don’t mind spending a few bucks on supplies, pick up a pack of outlet covers and use them to fill any unused outlets.

Have Time to Do More?

Nice extras for the bathroom:

  • Small basket of sample-size toiletries
  • Hair dryer
  • Fresh flowers
  • Bathrobe
  • Spare toothbrush (new in the package)
  • Hook for hanging a toiletries kit

Nice extras for the guest room:


  • Carafe of water
  • Fresh flowers
  • Scented candle and matches
  • Stack of interesting books
  • Power strip to plug in laptop
  • Grab-and-go snack items: chocolate, granola bars, nuts

Tell us: Ever had an awful experience staying overnight in someone’s home? Share your stories in the Comments … so we can learn what not to do!