Living With Style: Cozying Up The Nest For Holiday Guests

By Sasha Witte
Gazette Columnist
Nov 3rd, 2018 

The holidays aren’t the only thing that arrives during the last months of the year. There’s the trick or treaters who sashay to the front door for Halloween, the pumpkins and gourds nestled on the front porch, the slightly chillier weather with a (fingers crossed!) chance of rain, and the most important arrival of them all: the out-of-town friends and family.

While a joy to have overall, holiday guests can stress out even the calmest hostess. Whether they’re the in-laws, long-lost nieces, or childhood best friends, ease your holiday hosting gig with these tips.

Prep the Bathroom

Living with style: Bathroom

Make sure your guest bath is ready for guests by stocking the cabinet and shower with toiletries they may have left behind.

Place a basket for guest goodies near the sink. Fill it with toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, floss, a razor, makeup remover towelettes, q-tips, and breath mints. Put shampoo and conditioner in the shower and make sure there are plenty of towels in the cabinets.

A mini first aid kit placed underneath the sink is always a good idea. When having a dinner party, put individual guest napkins in the bathroom to prevent over-used hand towels.

Whatever you do, keep the guest bathroom as neat and tidy as possible! Almost half of your guests will open a cabinet out of curiosity, and you don’t want them to cringe at the site of a rusty razors pile next to hemorrhoid cream. Make a good impression with a beautiful bathroom clear of things you wouldn’t talk about at the dinner table.

LWS: Stocked Pantry

Be sure your pantry is stocked with your guests favorite cereals and snacks before their arrival.

Stock the Pantry

Ask guests ahead of time about food allergies and preferences. Pick up three to four items that they can readily eat at any time, from chips to nuts to fruits to cheeses.

Grab their favorite cereal and breakfast items for good measure. Nothing makes a person feel more at home than being able to help themself to their favorite snacks. Good food solves problems like no other.

Pull Out the Board Games

Living With Style: Board Games

A game table is a fun way to occupy guests during their visit.

Monopoly, Chess, Clue, Dominos, and a stack of cards are a simple way to liven up any night. No matter what age you are, a good game creates interactions and conversations within the stiffest of people.

Bring out Cards Against Humanity if your guests have a good sense of humor, and keep the drinks flowing! After reading irreverent cards like “Michelle Obama’s arms,” you’ll wind up wanting to play round after round. Keep plenty of throw pillows around for comfy seating.

Create a Playlist

Nothing gives a home more energy than music. Be the host who always has great tunes playing and spend some time making a fabulous playlist. For cheery mornings, choose coffeehouse music like Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz.

Relaxing afternoons playing games or sipping on cocoa are best spent listening to jazz or Future Classic soft electronic musicians like Chet Faker. Get a real party going later on with fun dance tunes from the Stax Records’ Motown hits.

Know When They’re Leaving

Be clear in emails and phone calls about details before out-of-town guests arrive.

Ask how long they’d like to stay, and plan holiday adventures accordingly. Knowing exactly when guests plan to leave will ease any uncomfortable feelings and last-minute day trip planning.

Don't Forget Dinner

Living With Style: Snacks

A few snacks and something to drink for guests stopping by during the holidays often comes in handy!

Besides the flow of guests coming in, another big part of the holidays is The Dinner Party.

You know, the spectacular one that you have every year that people cannot stop gushing about. Your food is perfect, the house is always beautiful, and your friends and family bond in magical ways. Here are some ideas on how to make the party even more spectacular.

Be Aware of Guest Needs

Invite friends and family at least three weeks before the date of the dinner party. Provide a place to hang coats and leave bags, and mention the space right when guests arrive.

Allow people to mingle by placing out fewer chairs than people. Keep h'ordeuvres and drinks in sight so hungry arrivals can relax immediately.

Living With Style: Stocked Bar

A well stocked bar where guests can make their own drinks prior to mingling saves work for you!

Provide a Drink for Everyone


Write a few drink recipes on cards and put out all the ingredients. Boisterous guests will have fun at a do-it-yourself bar.

For those who don’t want to work, mix up a sangria with lots of festive fruit. Remember that not everyone drinks alcohol and consider buying crowd-pleasing craft root beers such as Henry Weinhard’s. A few bottles of sparkling water and lots of ice are necessities!

Set a Fabulous Dinner Table

Living With Style: Dinner Table

Lots of lit candles is an easy way to create instant atmosphere.

Make your table warm and inviting with amber or red colored candleholders. Decorate hanging pendant and chandeliers with cascading ribbons and bring out different sets of china. If you’re having a party where people won’t know each other, spend some time on creating a seating arrangement that would make conversation flow. Place the most talkative and boisterous ones in the middle and group together those with similar interests such as cars, art, sports, a love for Netflix original series. Make sure to write names on both sides of the place card so people sitting opposite can see.

Make Serving Champagne Easy

Lessen the load in the dishwasher by purchasing mini bottles of champagne! Get one for each guest to sip from after you make a fabulous toast. Pop Champagne by Pommery is a good choice and comes in fun colors. Your guests will love this spunky change from other dinner parties.

Keep Your Cool in Chaos

If a guest breaks something by accident, refrain from an emotional response. Take a deep breath and say, “Thank you. I’ve been looking for a reason to replace that old thing.” Throwing a fit will create a more awkward situation, and your guest will be grateful for saving them the embarrassment. They’ll probably offer to replace it!

Bring a Hostess Gift When It’s Not Your Party

Living With Style: Hostess Gifts

Thoughtful hostess gifts, like a beautiful and easy to maintain succulent arrangement, are always welcome!

When the roles are reversed, don’t forget to bring a gift for the hostess.

A good rule of thumb for hostess gifts is to choose something that represents their activities and interests. If they have dogs, get gourmet doggie treats wrapped in a pretty bow. A bottle of infused olive oil is perfect for the consummate cook. For a green-thumbed friend, bring a gardening tool or nice gloves. Whatever it is, choose something that is unique to their personality and avoid clichés.

Whether you are hosting friends and family for a long stay or just a night, use these tips to keep your nest as cozy as possible in the bustling holiday season. Cheers!

Sasha Witte can be reached at or (562) 434-8824.


Meet Sasha Witte


  • Facebook (Sasha Witte Design)

  • Google+

  • Yelp

Sasha's Gazettes Column