Happy guests come back.

Amanda is coming to Utah tonight!


One of the best things about living in a destination town (like Durango or Park City) is that people like to visit. John and I love a full house! It’s important to me that our guests are comfortable when they stay with us. Over years of playing hostess, I’ve learned a few simple things that make our loved ones feel welcome (while keeping our own stress levels down).

Before guests arrive, I like to ask what I can do to make them more comfortable. Find out if they have particular preferences that are easy for you to provide. John’s brother likes the ambient noise of a fan at night, so there’s one in the closet. I drink my coffee black, but the fridge is stocked with Amanda’s hazelnut creamer. My dad likes a specific kind of peanut butter, so I make sure it’s in the pantry. It’s also good to know about any allergies or dietary restrictions ahead of time.

I take a little extra time to prepare the guest room to make it extra cozy. If you’re like us, any available closet ends up being used for storage. I make sure to clear space for my guests, with plenty of hangers available. I like to add personal touches, like a photo of myself with the guest or a scented sachet in the closet. In bedside tables, I’ll stash a few magazines, an extra phone charger, and a headlamp (just in case). We have a book about Mount Timpanogos that we use as a guest book, asking our loved ones to leave us notes in its pages to remember their visits.

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In the bathroom, I put together a little collection of travel-sized items, just in case my guest forgets something- extra soap, lotion, deodorant, a nail file, Q-tips and cotton balls, tissue.  Little thoughtful things go a long way to make your loved ones feel at home. For example, when my folks visit, I light a gardenia candle in the guest room- the scent is my mom’s favorite. Fresh flowers always make a space feel welcoming.

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When guests arrive, I’ve found that it’s helpful to give them the lay of the land. A little tour will make them feel more at ease during their stay. In the guest room, I point out where to find things like extra toilet paper or fresh towels. I offer additional pillows and show them where warm blankets are stored. I make sure they know how to use the TV and ceiling fan remote controls. And then I leave them to their little home away from home; a bit of privacy is always appreciated when in someone else’s space.

For Amanda, I found a few photos of us over the years and lined the bathroom mirror. I put together a little welcome basket. She’s not used to cold weather, so I included a cozy scarf and a pair of slippers. She is looking forward to uninterrupted sleep, so I added an eye mask and earplugs. Her kids have been sick, so I tossed in some Vitamin C to keep her healthy. I also picked up a few fun things to make her smile: cocktail napkins and a magnet with cute sayings. Last, I found a pretty picture frame- we will snap a photo for it during her visit!

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There’s nothing worse than being hungry or thirsty and feeling unsure if it’s rude to ask for a sandwich. I keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter and stock up on healthy snacks (and show guests where to find them). I point out where to find the wine opener, silverware, coffee mugs- and let guests know to truly feel at home and help themselves.

I’ve found that the trickiest time of day with a house full of people is in the morning. People wake up at different times and have unique routines. John preps the coffee the night before, so it’s ready for whoever happens to be up first. Some people like to eat something right away. Some wait until the coffee’s kicked in (ahem). Unless we have a plan to make a big breakfast, I’ll usually provide plenty of different options: yogurt and granola, cereal, fresh fruit, toast and jam, juice. I might make some muffins so there’s something homemade available. It makes me happy to see guests help themselves and feel comfortable doing their own thing.

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For a planner like me, it’s hard not to have a packed itinerary ready to go for a full house of guests. I want them to have the Best! Vacation! EVER! I try to remember that people go on vacation to relax, not be entertained 24-7 by me. It’s smart to have a loose itinerary and suggestions for activities, but to be flexible. Maybe someone wants to see everything your town has to offer, but doesn’t know what those things are; I’ll pick up local publications to have on hand for ideas. Another might want to take advantage a vacation schedule: the joy of sleeping in, or curling up with a book, or savoring a rare moment of quiet.

I usually make a reservation for an evening out, but truly, our guests come to spend time with us. I think of the best times I’ve had when visiting family or friends- most had nothing to do with WHAT we did. It was about being together. As hostess, my favorite full-house memories aren’t planned events. The most fun we can have includes making dinner for (or with) friends, laughing around the dining room table with full bellies and our favorite wines.

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Sometimes having many visitors can feel a little stressful. Planning ahead with a few simple things can change that, and it’s important to remember what really matters: time together. For our guests, I want a stay in our home to be easy and comfortable, because it means that they’ll be back.

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A full house is a happy house.

More of our home

One year ago: I made scrumptious potato soup!


  1. You have thought of simply everything, Amber! I hope to one day be even the smidgen of the hostess you are. I’m sure your guests are blown away by the thoughtfulness and care you have put into every detail. It’s truly amazing! I hope you and Amanda have a wonderful visit together. 🙂

  2. And my guests are lucky to get clean sheets! I’ll not show them this post. LOL

    Seriously, I could learn a thing or two. You make me want to come through Park City just to crash for a night. Enjoy your sister’s visit. I know how much she means to you — it’ll be like no time has passed!

    1. Someday those guest rooms will be full of babies (we hope) so it might not be as easy to have a comfy spot for our guests all the time! We had a fun time together- thanks, Shannon!

  3. I’m ashamed to say that I forget how much I enjoy your blog, so I’m glad you liked my latest post to spark my memory! I’ll do better to get over here regularly. I love this post bc we are extreeeemely like-minded hosts … we make sure we have people’s fave things and go to great lengths to make anyone who stays feel so comfortable and pampered and it means SO MUCH to them! (I love making sure the guest bathrooms are loaded with things anyone may have forgotten) My mom says she’s coming to the “resort” more often and has even called it the spa … along with a couple of friends. That brings me JOY! Great post … I even got some more ideas! 🙂

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