The Essentials Basket You’ll Want to Keep on Hand for Overnight Guests

I knew that when my husband and I bought a house, we’d be having a lot of company—both of our parents live about four hours away, while his best friend and mine live in New York and Los Angeles, respectively. I was super excited to create a cute and cozy guest room filled with all the essentials; I love playing hostess and making friends and family feel at home in my home, and I’ve learned a lot about what makes a visit go smoothly for both guest and host. 

Whether your guests are crashing on the couch for a night or hanging out for several days in a guest room, you can make their stay even better with a few thoughtful touches. Think of the best hotel stay you’ve ever enjoyed and why it was so memorable—were there fancy toiletries, easily accessible necessities, maybe a guidebook of things to do? Try to duplicate that in your space to make your guests feel cared for and comfortable during their time with you and consider this list the “basket” of must-haves you should keep on hand for overnight guests.

Extra toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Even the most well-prepared guests can forget the most important items from time to time. Keep an extra toothbrush and tube of toothpaste on hand just in case mom misplaced hers.

A phone charger.

It never hurts to have an extra phone charger plugged in, especially if a few people are staying with you. I would definitely consider this an essential.

Pain relievers, Pepto, and antihistamines.

There’s nothing worse than when you don’t feel well on a trip. Help mitigate any minor illnesses, hangovers, or stomach upsets that may occur while your guests are visiting by keeping a small basket of ibuprofen, allergy and sinus relief medicines, and Pepto Bismol either in their room or where they can easily see it in the bathroom. 

Extra blankets and pillows.

Are your guests hot or cold sleepers? While we keep a lightweight comforter on the guest room bed throughout the year, I stash a variety of throws and quilts in the guest room so they can layer up if necessary. I also keep a few different kinds of pillows on hand for guests in case one likes a firm and flat pillow and another prefers something fluffy.

Earplugs and a sleep mask.

Is your guest sleeping on the couch? Do you have thin walls or noisy kids or pets? Are you an early riser and your guest likes to sleep late? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, pick up a box of earplugs and a sleep mask to help them snooze more soundly.

Their favorite coffee fixings.

I’m not super particular about the kind of coffee I drink, but I am pretty devoted to my vanilla coconut creamer. Sure, I can survive without it for a few days, but it makes the AM ritual so much better! Whenever someone stays with us, I make sure to ask what they like in their coffee and try to always have half and half, milk, and oat milk in our fridge alongside my coconut creamer just in case. It’s the little things that make it feel more like home sweet home.

A small bottle of lotion.

Lotion is a pain to pack, but it’s also a pain to be without. Make your guests’ lives easier by supplying a small bottle so they don’t have to worry about it exploding in their suitcase and damaging everything they own.

A chic candle and linen spray.

Set the mood as though your guest room is a fancy hotel by burning a fancy candle and misting the bedding with a complimentary linen spray they can enjoy when they slip between the sheets. (You know your guests best, of course, so if they’re sensitive to smells, maybe skip this step.) My current favorite candle is The Laundress’ No. 723, a rich rose that lends an aura of elegance and drama to the space. Crisp, clean sheets and a cozy, comfortable bed are key to getting a good night’s sleep away from home.

A good book.

If your guests are staying for a few days, provide some reading material for quiet moments and bedtime. We have books piled all over our house, including in the guest room, but if I were hosting a friend for a few days, I’d curate the stack specifically for them or thrift an extra copy of one of my favorites for them to read and take home as a memento of their visit.

Kara Nesvig grew up on a sugar beet farm in rural North Dakota and pretended to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz for about three full years. Things haven’t changed much, except she now lives in an adorable ’20s house in St. Paul with her husband, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dandelion and many, many pairs of shoes. Kara is a voracious reader, Britney Spears superfan and copywriter — in that order.

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