This holiday season, you’re not just making plans, you’re making memories. So as a follow-up to last month’s Winter Holiday Party Prep Guide, we’re offering a list of 16 bonus tips to hosting overnight guests in your home, designed to help you provide (and enjoy!) a pleasant and memorable experience from start to finish. Here are some ideas to consider trying before, during and after your guests arrive at your door:

BEFORE

Confirm dates And easy, but easy-to-miss first step: to avoid any potential miscommunication about arrival and departure dates, check in with your guests a few weeks before you expect them to arrive, to make sure you have the correct dates marked on your calendar.   Ask about dietary restrictions or allergies The week before your guests arrive, give them a quick call and ask if there are any food allergies that you need to be aware of, or if they currently have any other dietary restrictions. With this info, stock your pantry with extra snacks and ingredients for meals you plan to prepare during your guests’ stay. Related tip: also ask if there’s anything special they would like to have on hand (a specific type of coffee or tea in the morning, for example) to make them feel more at home. Plan your menu and prepare a few dishes ahead Once you know more about your guests’ food allergies and preferences, it’s a good idea to start planning your menus. If you’re not used to cooking for a crowd, try a few simple slow-cooker recipes that are easy to put together, cook on their own, and feed a larger number of people. And if you don’t want to dirty your kitchen while guests are there, consider preparing some dishes ahead to pop in the freezer until you’re ready to serve. The Pioneer Woman blog has some great freezer-friendly recipes, along with freezer cooking tips. Arrange a few activities You want to make sure your guests are entertained as well as comfortable, so take a look around at any cultural or community events that will take place during their stay, and plan out a few local activities that they will enjoy. Make sure to give your guests a heads-up about what you have planned, especially if there’s anything specific that they will need to pack. Related tip: If your guests include kiddos, don’t forget to include some kid-friendly activities into the mix. Take a cue from your favorite hotel When preparing your guest room, think about your favorite hotel, and provide all of the little things that a good hotel would: clock in the room, spare toothbrush, toiletries, extra blankets, extra pillows, even a few small bottles of water (it doesn’t have to be chilled) and snacks (granola bars, apples, banana or oranges, whatever doesn’t need to be refrigerated). Provide fresh bed linens and towels If your guest room bedsheets and towels are clean but have been sitting idle for a while, go ahead and run them through the wash to make sure everything smells and feels fresh and clean. Don’t have an extra set of guest linens or do the ones you have need an update? Check out HGTV’s guide to sheet buying for inspiration. Add simple, decorative accents Small touches like flowers or fresh pine branches in the winter will add charm to your guest room and help your guests feel more at home. Provide closet space & hangers If your guests are staying for an extended period of time, make sure to clear out some room in the guest room closet and provide enough hangers, especially if they will be wearing dresses or suits.

DURING

Keep calm and relaxed You may start to feel anxious while trying to make sure your guests feel comfortable, entertained and have everything they need. But remember — your guests will be as relaxed as you are. Make sure to take care of yourself and do little things that keep you calm each day. To help with this, check out Lifehacker’s tips for staying calm and cool under stress. Give your guests a tour When your guests arrive, take them on a quick tour to see their room, bathroom(s), kitchen, etc. Let them know to make themselves at home and help themselves to the snacks and food items you stocked for their stay. Offer some time to freshen up Invite your guests to shower or freshen up before joining you in socializing. This makes them feel more comfortable and gives them time to feel presentable. Consider that they may have had a long travel day, and let them know there is no pressure to come and socialize if they would rather relax. Offer maps, area guides and magazines If your guests are visiting from out of town, provide a few local maps and guides to help them acclimate themselves to the area and find things to do if they want to venture out on their own. Also, consider adding a few magazines to read in their downtime or daily newspapers to read over breakfast each morning. Prepare for the morning When it is time to retire for the night, take the time to tell them when you usually rise, when coffee will be ready or if/how they can help themselves if you are still asleep when they wake up.

AFTER

Help plan travel logistics A little goes a long way here. Any effort to try to make your guests’ travel return travel easier (helping them with their bags, arranging their shuttle or offering a ride to the airport) will be appreciated. Send them off with refreshments If your guests have a long day of travel ahead of them, sending them off with a couple bottles of water and nonperishable to-go snacks is a nice gesture, and one less thing they’ll need to think about en route. Follow up Send a quick email or text to make sure your guests arrived home ok, and to let them know how much you enjoyed your time with them. You don’t have to go over-the-top here, just a quick, heartfelt message of appreciation will mean a lot. Preparing for overnight guests during the holidays — whether it’s your first or 30th time — can seem overwhelming when the holiday season arrives, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few simple, thoughtful gestures, both you and your guests are sure to have a fabulous and memorable time. Have any extra tips that you would add to this list? Tweet them at us and we’ll update this post with advice from our readers. For other helpful tips and advice for life and home, follow Van Metre Homes on Facebook.