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How to Prepare Your Home for Guests During the Holidays


There’s no better way to spend the holidays than with loved ones. As the season approaches, you may be preparing to open your home to family and friends. But preparing for visitors isn’t as simple as laying out clean sheets. From decluttering common areas to stocking up on bathroom essentials, there are a number of things to keep in mind if you want to create the best possible experience for your guests. Keep reading to learn our foolproof tips to get your home ready for holiday guests.

In This Article:
  1. Declutter Your Home
  2. Deep Clean the Common Areas
  3. Get the Guest Area Ready
  4. Replenish Supplies in the Bathroom and Kitchen
  5. Safety-Proof Areas for Kids and Pets

1. Declutter Your Home

Decluttering your home is the first step when you’re preparing for guests, whether it means temporarily storing bulky items in a storage unit or getting rid of things you no longer use or need. Decluttering is especially important in areas with a lot of foot traffic, such as the entryway, hallways, living room, kitchen and dining room. Not only does clearing floorspace open up your home, making it feel airier and more spacious, but it also eliminates the risk of your guests accidentally tripping or bumping into objects. 

Don’t forget to remove any unnecessary items from kitchen countertops, coffee tables and other surfaces as well. It’s best to declutter a few weeks in advance of your guest’s arrival to give yourself plenty of time to find a new home for items that are taking up a lot of space.

Tip: Many self-storage units, like those at SmartStop Self Storage, allow you to rent short-term units on a month-to-month contract. This gives you the opportunity to place your things in storage until the holidays are over.

2. Deep Clean the Common Areas

Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time to deep clean your home — especially common areas like the living room, bathroom, guest area and kitchen. You can use our Deep Cleaning Checklist for a detailed step-by-step guide to cleaning different areas of your home as well as any supplies you’ll need. We’ve provided a simplified version of the checklist below with the essential steps you don’t want to miss.

Living Room

  • Dust everything. Start from the top — such as light fixtures and fans — and work your way down to tabletops and baseboards. Spot clean any smudges or dirt that can’t be dusted off.
  • Vacuum upholstery. Give sofas, chairs and cushions a good vacuuming to remove dust and possible allergens. For fabric-covered items, consider a fabric refresher.
  • Clean under furniture. Move couches, tables, rugs and chairs to vacuum or mop beneath them.
  • Wash rugs. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer or care tag on your rug. If you can wash it at home or the laundromat, do so at least a week before your guests arrive. Otherwise, take them to a rug cleaner.
  • Wipe electronics. Dust often accumulates on TVs, stereos and other devices. Use a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching them.

Spare Bedroom or Sleeping Area

  • Bed linens. Strip the bed and launder all linens, including mattress covers and pillow protectors.
  • Dust and vacuum. Just as with the living room, dust from top to bottom. Pay special attention to headboards and footboards.
  • Closet space. Empty and clean any closet space designated for guests. Make sure there are a few empty hangers they can use for winter coats.
  • Windows. Clean windows and make sure they’re properly insulated to prevent drafts from entering the room.


Tip: For eco-friendly cleaning solutions you can DIY at home, explore our 10 favorite easy, non-toxic cleaning spray recipes.


  • Deep clean appliances. This includes the oven, microwave, refrigerator and dishwasher. Remove any old food items and wipe down all interior surfaces.
  • Sanitize surfaces. Use a disinfectant on countertops, sinks and faucet handles.
  • Clean floors. Sweep and mop floors, ensuring corners and beneath appliances are clean.
  • Purge and organize. Empty out pantries and cabinets, wiping down shelves and discarding expired items.


  • Scrub and disinfect. Give the toilet, shower, tub and sink a thorough scrubbing. Don't forget to wipe down the shower door or place the shower curtain in the washing machine.
  • Floors. After sweeping, mop the floor with a bathroom-friendly cleaner.
  • Mirrors and fixtures. Wipe down mirrors with a glass cleaner. Chrome fixtures can be shined with a mixture of water and vinegar.

3. Get the Guest Area Ready

Whether the guest area is a spare room or a makeshift space like the living room, you’ll want to ensure that it has everything your guest needs for a comfortable stay. If you don’t have a spare bed or mattress, here are a few alternatives that don’t take up too much space when you’re not hosting:

  • Futon (a sofa that’s specifically designed for sleeping and often features a pull-out mattress)
  • Air mattress (simply inflate and deflate as needed, then place in a storage unit or closet)
  • Roll-up floor mattress (usually made of foam, these can roll up easily and have a minimal footprint)

You’ll also want to provide your guest with fresh sheets, pillows and a comforter with a few extra blankets, depending on how cold your home gets at night. You should also make sure there’s a lamp nearby to provide your guest with light when it’s dark and a dresser or rack to hang up clothes.

If your guest is staying in a common area, consider getting a room divider to create a partition that gives them some privacy during their stay. Shoji screens, typically made from wood and translucent paper, are a lightweight, minimal and stylish type of divider that you can easily fold and place in storage when you’re not using them.

If you want to go above and beyond, you can also provide the following items for your guests:

  • A small desk and chair
  • A bedside table or stool
  • Books and magazines
  • Charging cords


Tip: If your guest needs a parking space, make sure to clear your driveway. Pull any cars you don’t plan on driving into the garage or temporarily park them at a self-storage facility. If it’s snowing, make sure you salt the driveway.

4. Replenish Supplies in the Bathroom and Kitchen

Before your guests arrive, do a quick scan of the bathroom and kitchen, taking note of any essentials you might need to replenish.

For the bathroom, make sure you have enough:

  • Toilet paper
  • Hand soap
  • Towels (including face, hand and bath towels)
  • Shampoo, conditioner and body wash
  • Toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss
  • Razors and feminine hygiene products

For the kitchen, consider stocking up on:

  • Breakfast items like bread, milk, eggs, coffee, tea, fruit and cereal
  • Snacks like nuts, chips, dips, crackers and fruit
  • Drinks like water, seltzer, soda, kombucha and alcohol (if appropriate)
  • Holiday-themed desserts and treats (even better if they’re homemade)

If you know your guest has a dietary restriction or food allergy, make sure you buy some specialty items and store them on their own shelf or in a separate part of the kitchen so your guest doesn’t go hungry.

Tip: Once you’ve finished preparing everything, don’t forget to add a few holiday flourishes to liven up your space. This can include wreaths and garlands, dreidels, stockings, scented candles, throw blankets with holiday prints or any other festive items. When the holidays are over and your guests leave, you can follow these steps to store your holiday decor safely until next year.

5. Safety-Proof Areas for Kids and Pets

Lastly, if your guests have small children or pets that will be staying with you, it’s important to remove any potential safety hazards before they arrive. Move fragile and valuable items from easy-to-reach places, and make sure bookcases, TVs and larger pieces of furniture are securely mounted to walls to prevent them from tipping over. You’ll also want to keep cleaning products, over-the-counter medicines and prescription drugs out of sight and reach and move any plants that may be toxic to pets.

We hope these tips have helped you get your home ready for guests during the holidays. For more organization and storage ideas, head to the SmartStop blog. In the meantime, happy holidays and hosting!

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