How to Make Guests Feel Welcome in Your Home

Naomi Irons
8 min readJan 1, 2018

[Originally published on the My Fair Olinda blog.]

I love hosting. I love to make guests feel welcome in my home. I love everything about throwing a party, having a gathering and welcoming others into my home. It makes me so happy to create a warm, welcome space to invite others into. I want every guest to feel comfortable and relaxed in my house.

I went to a group of ladies I admire for their gifts of hospitality and asked them their favorite things to do as hostesses, tips on making others feel welcome in their homes, how they create a welcoming space and what key things they do in preparation to hosting. They blew me away with their hearts for hospitality and all their awesome tips.

Use these nine tips to make guests feel welcome in your home:

Make it Cozy:

The most important part of entertaining for me is making my home warm and welcoming to my guests. I want them to feel invited in, comfortable and relaxed. Creating a cozy atmosphere is a wonderful way to put guests at ease in your home. It’s hard to know what the rules are in someone else’s home. A cozy space sets the tone for a relaxed get together.Think about what kind of lighting fits your event. Are you using candles, lamps, overhead lighting, stringed lights? Different levels of light will affect the atmosphere. Julia’s favorite thing to do as a hostess is to create a cozy place where people feel at home.

I love lighting candles, having music in the background, blankets close by the couch for a cozy chat, and a hot drink (tea, chai, etc…) at the ready. Munchies nearby on the coffee table are always fun too.

Making sure the space is tidy but not necessarily perfectly clean. I want people to feel like they can come in and just be themselves. Sometimes being in an overly clean space makes me feel less comfortable or open… like I might mess something up. Other things I love: blankets and candles (can’t mention these enough, hahah), fresh flowers, etc… Also having the windows open if the weather is nice makes a space really inviting. -Julia

Set the Tone:

Pay attention to the space you are inviting your guests into. Lighting, music, and even the way you arrange your furniture all play into the atmosphere in your house. I love lighting candles, playing a relaxing spotify playist and arranging my furniture to cultivate community. Similar to making it cozy. Both the physical space and the atmosphere set the tone for your gathering. Focus on how you want people to feel in your space.

I pay attention to always having an air of relaxing abundance — plenty of everything. Sparkly and moody lighting, fluffy and holiday towels, fun outside space so guests can step outside for air and still feel part of the party and lovely music. Live music is always a nice touch. — Shannon

My life ministry with hospitality is to make people feel safe, valued, connected, and “at home”. I LOVE watching relationships develop or deepen. I LOVE helping to create a place where lives are impacted and transformed through relationship as well as shared experience. — Linda

Prepare Ahead of Time:

The more preparation you do in advance the more relaxed you’ll be the day of your event. I like having my house as guest ready as possible in general, but let’s be honest, that’s not always real life. Getting a head start of the cleaning is key. Deep clean a few days ahead of your event so that all you have to do is a quick tidy up the day of. Put all unnecessary items away to declutter your home. Clear clutter from your coffee table, side tables, kitchen and bathroom counters. Have clean towels for your bathrooms and kitchen ready to change out. In addition to soap I like to have lotion, kleenex and easily accessible tp for guests. I also pull out serving dishes and platters as well as do most of my food prep the night before.

I like to be as prepared ahead of time as possible so that I can feel relaxed and attentive to my friends and family as they come into my home. If I’m relaxed, my home will feel more relaxed, peaceful, and inviting. — Linda

Cultivate Conversation:

One of the most intimidating elements of attending and even hosting an event can be making conversation. I definitely worry about having good conversations when I am a guest. As a host you have the advantage of knowing your guests, but they may not always know each other. Be sure to introduce your guests to each other, but don’t just stop there. When introducing people give them a few talking points. Maybe they share a hobby or have similar tastes in music. Be creative, skip the job descriptions and get to the good stuff. Does your guest have a unique hidden talent? Share what your favorite character quality about them is. Help your guests get launched into a conversation before leaving them to fend for themselves. Be intentional about having, creating and cultivating conversations. It’s also important to me that every single one of my guests is included. If someone isn’t engaging in a group conversation I’ll encourage them directly to chime in by asking them a question related to the topic the group is on. I also love playing a group game to loosen things up and provide everyone with a shared experience.

Sometimes brainstorm some conversation topics or think about what’s been happening in their life so I can ask good questions. Also, sometimes prepping myself and thinking about what’s happening in my life so I can give good answers and not boring ones like “life is gooood” “Things are about the same” etc… — Julia

I want folks to feel at ease so I like to introduce people I know will be care taking or encouraging to each other. I’m an introvert so I pay extra attention to paring guests with extroverts! — Shannon

I like to use table questions as conversation starters that allow and encourage everyone’s participation. Creating an atmosphere of fun, where people linger around the table, enjoying laughter and meaningful conversation, is the most rewarding part of hospitality for me. — Linda

Surprise and Delight:

It’s so much fun to surprise and delight your guests! I love giving my guests WOW moments. From little to big things you might be surprised how easy this is to do. Your surprises can be theme inspired or customized to your guests. Create an experience for your guests to remember. Whether it’s making them laugh, having all their favorite foods prepared or sending them home with a little party favor going the extra mile for them is always worth it.

I always like to do or have something unexpected, like a silly game or sweet take home prize or raffle. — Shannon

Use What You Have:

Hostessing shouldn’t be stressful or about putting on a show. It’s all about being, abiding, together. Using what you have takes a lot of pressure off of you as the host. Plus this tip will save you money! I love playing around with what I have to come up with something new or different. It’s so much fun! From seasonal to holiday just start pulling things out and trying ideas out. Your creative juices will be flowing in no time.

Use what you have. I have tried to follow this practice whenever I have guests now. Whether it is in creating a dinner menu or the centerpiece of the table setting, I look at what I already have available to me. This saves me time running around from store to store, as well as money, and forces me to be creative. — Linda

Accept help:

I love it when a guest offers to help. It’s more than just a nice gesture. It makes me feel so considered and blessed by my guest. I don’t rely on having help, but if I can use it then I accept it. It’s amazing the things that can be left undone as guest arrive. Even with preparation time can get away from us the day of. Things like lighting candles, helping with the finishing touches on the food or setting the table are great ways to let your guests help you. Even better yet are the few guests at the end of the event who offer to help clean up!

I am learning to accept an offer to help. That’s really how I came to learn and love hospitality. I asked if I could help and the cook put me to work. I loved it! It’s fun to work together in the kitchen! It’s a great way to learn new skills, get better acquainted, and enjoy serving others together. — Linda

Fresh Flowers:

It’s no secret I love fresh flowers in my home. And I know I’m not alone! Flowers add an instant elegance to your home. Not only are they welcoming, but they gracefully dress up and brighten any space. Nothing beats beautiful fresh flowers. For me they are an everyday staple. Flowers really make me happy. They make wonderful centerpieces and bring such a lovely element of nature in. Fresh flowers are definitely a must. Flowers can be all the decorating you need to do and they look lovely.

I have a collection of small perfume vases. I love to put one or two fresh flowers in each and set one by everyone’s plate. I also like to put a small vase of fresh flowers in the guest bathroom. — Rosalie

Serving and Presentation:

No matter how much prep I do in advance I always seem to have one or two more things do as guests are arriving. Whether I’m hosting a party or having friends over for dinner appetizers are key. Having something for guests to munch on right away is a huge stress reliever for me. I like putting together a simple cheese and meat tray or having chips and salsa out. My guests can snack and chat and I won’t feel stressed over finishing up my last minute touches or the fact that dinner is still cooking.

I’m big on pretty presentation appetizer trays, especially Italian ones & then comfort food meals followed by a light dessert such as homemade cobblers or a tray of gourmet chocolate with an apperitivo such as homemade limoncello. — Shannon

I hope these tips give you lots of ideas and help you make guests feel welcome in your home!

What’s your favorite thing to do as a hostess? How you make others feel welcome in your home? What do you do to create a welcoming space? What are key things you do in preparation?



Naomi Irons

Do It Yourself projects enthusiast. Celebrating creativity everyday. I’ve been killing it in the organization arena for over 10 years.