Here's How to Be the Very Best Host (or Guest) During the Holiday Season

Here's How to Be the Very Best Host (or Guest) During the Holiday Season

Famed interior design and entertaining expert, Francesco Bilotto has tips. Listen up. 


By Marianne Garvey

When it comes to the holidays, being with family can cause more heartburn than overeating. We love them, but sometimes we want to get them out of our house — forever.

Being a good host and being a good guest are crucial around the holidays in order to keep the peace, says interior design and entertaining expert, Francesco Bilotto.

He breaks down the rules for Personal Space:

How to be a good host is about anticipating your guest’s needs and not stressing yourself in the meantime, Bilotto says. “People don’t think ahead in terms of the dynamics of who’s coming,” he adds.

A few tips for hosting:

1. Create a “kids corner”

“A lot of times the kids become an afterthought, so create zones,” Bilotto says. “In a corner of a room put some board games, floor pillows, a place where you should be able to be a kid. Spent $50 to $100 bucks on a folding screen to make it a separate area where kids have a corner to color, someplace to hide.”

2. Treat your guests like celebrities

“It’s really important to treat people like celebrities, find out what their rider is,” Bilotto says. “Let’s discuss beforehand so I can anticipate your needs … what creamer do you use, what do you eat, the temperature control, ask do you require a fan … the guest feels uncomfortable asking while they are there. When you ask you won’t 'over buy,' it’s better to 'over ask.'”

3. Make welcome basket

“It’s actually a way to get your house rules across,” Bilotto says. “Put it on their bed, or foldout couch. Include snacks, local menus, maps, write in there the wi-fi code, alarm codes, special numbers … and say thank you for respecting our privacy and not putting our house on social media if that’s what you choose. And say help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge.”

4. Make your bathroom look like a hotel

When it comes down to your bathroom, clean it up. “Anticipate guest’s needs, put in room spray, matches, make them feel comfortable, luxe up your loo, towels, scents, tabloids, have a couple extra toothbrushes, loofahs, things people maybe forgot. It costs really not a lot of money versus if they forgot something, now you have to take them to the store,” says Bilotto.

5. Put a power strip in a designated spot

Good idea! “Put out a power strip and call it a charging station. The trick is to keep everyone out of the kitchen so you can do your thing, and they know where they can charge their phone, computer, etc.”

In order to be a guest that actually gets invited back:

1. Don’t be all up in the hosts' faces

“Don’t be so dependent on them, find your own activities,” says Bilotto.

2. Lighten their load

“Don’t ask over and over ‘what can I help with?’ Say ‘I’m here, whatever you need help with I’m here,’” says Bilotto.

3. Bring a gift

A nice candle, wine, or fresh flowers always works. After you leave, send a handwritten note.

4. Strip the bed

Take off the sheets and put them in a bundle in one of the pillowcases, and tell your host that you put everything in there that you used.

5. Pets

If you want to bring your dog or cat, you have to ask. “Not everyone loves dogs,” Bilotto says. And if you do bring Fido, make sure he or she behaves.

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