How to Prep for Holiday Guests

With the holiday season comes joy, thanksgiving, and… houseguests. And whether you’re eagerly anticipating your family’s arrival or reticently accepting your in-laws request to visit, the secrets to hosting remain the same. From how to prep, what to stock, and the experts to tap, Frances King shares her tried and true tips for hosting like a pro, locally.

Not quite ready to host overnight guests in your home? Share our Knoxville Lodging Guide with your guests to help them pick a great local stay.

Start with a clean slate. Tap a household helper to get your house in order and make the “public” areas sparkle. My list always includes wiping down the baseboards and deep cleaning the bathrooms. Bonus points for sweeping the porch and blowing the yard!

Get organized! Too often, guest rooms function as landing places for donation piles, unfolded laundry, and unused exercise gear. Put simply, a room filled with relegated things is no place to host your guests, lest they feel like they too are unwelcome in your home. Tap our Scouted Expert, Help You Dwell, to jumpstart the decluttering essential to transforming your guest bedroom from a hideaway to a sanctuary.

Anticipate their needs. Whether it’s a forgetful in-law or a brother who refuses to check a bag, your guest might come unprepared for their stay. Anticipating their needs – from an extra toothbrush or moisturizer – is an easy way to make them feel at ease, as many guests won’t want to bother you for simple requests. In addition to providing little necessities (think: Advil, q-tips, and extra towels), we like to elevate the essentials with soap from The Happy Envelope and clean beauty products from the beauty mrkt.

Add a special touch. In addition to wiping down baseboards and de-cluttering, we take care to add special touches to the guest room. A bouquet of farm-fresh flowers from Little Mountain Flower Farm (pickup available at Three Rivers Market) fits the bill. Bonus points for placing a notecard with your wifi password next to them – on top of the latest volume of The Scout Guide Knoxville, of course!

Exceed expectations by offering thoughtful touches that, as we mentioned earlier, anticipate and meet your guests’ needs. Stock your guest bedroom with extra blankets, provide a robe and slippers in the bathroom, offer firm and soft pillows, and add an extra phone charger within arm’s reach. We always find the best goodies at The Village Exchange.

Stock the pantry. A well-fed guest is a happy guest, and this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase local fare. Before guests arrive, we pick up our favorites, which include baked goods from Wild Love Bakehouse, bagels from Paysan Bread & Bagels, coffee from Vienna Coffee CompanyBenton’s Bacon, a seasonal snack tin from Proper Popcorn, and specialty cheeses from Euphoric Cheese. For the holidays, tamales from Good Golly Tamale are a must.

Preset the table if hosting dinner guests. This will save an extra step and allow you to fully engage with your guests once they arrive. We love to pull out our tabletop favorites (from G&G Interiors, of course) and add an elegant touch with hand-lettered place cards courtesy of Brittany Ivey. If we’re also hosting littles, we opt for darling paper placemats from The Happy Envelope.

Know their drink orders and have all the ingredients to whip up their favorite cocktails on hand. A stop into Bob’s Wine + Liquor to re-stock the bar before guests’ arrival is always on our to-do list, whether we’re hosting for the evening, the weekend, or the holidays. Pro Tip: Always have champagne on hand.

Plan ahead. If you’re dining in, have all the ingredients stocked before your guest’s arrival – unless you think you might need a quick trip to the grocery store to maintain your sanity. If you’re dining out, make reservations at our favorite local spots in advance. And, if you’re hosting a larger group, tap By The Tracks Catering for a delicious, stress-free meal.

And above all, don’t forget to enjoy their company. Your guests have traveled to visit you, after all. Don’t wait until the last minute to prep, so you can enjoy every moment together.

Prepping for guests locally is an easy way to support small business and share the magic of our community with visitors. We encourage you to tap any and all of these Knoxville-owned businesses to help you welcome guests and hope you’ll tell them Scout sent you!