Often when we think about hosting guests, we have time on our side. With advance warning, we can ensure that we have everything that we need to guarantee a visit goes well. We can take into account preferences, think through problems, and obtain any extra items we might need to host visitors with as much grace as possible.

Unfortunately, these tactics don’t always work. There are times when we don’t have advance warning and instead, find ourselves scrabbling to host someone at very short notice. It might be for happy reasons – a sudden visit, friends from out of town making use of spare time for an impromptu visit – or because visitors arrive for less pleasant reasons. Whatever the cause, it’s incredibly difficult to find yourself suddenly needing to make all of those guest preparations – but with extremely limited time to do them in.

If you ever find yourself in such a situation, it’s helpful to know how you should organise yourself. Unless you are the kind of person to always have a spotless spare bedroom ready to go and your unexpected guests fit neatly into it, finding the time and space to prepare for a sudden visit can feel overwhelming. Rather than rush around like a headless chicken trying to catch up, the best way of coping is to set down a list of the tasks you need to do to get your home ready to host in double-quick time.

So, where to begin?


You won’t know anything about how much space you have until you have removed all unnecessary rubbish from your home. Now is the time for an express run through your house to declutter and remove any unnecessary junk. If you’re curious about what you do and don’t need to keep, then has a good guide to what should stay and what should go.

In some ways, the fact you’re having to do this at speed will help the process – you’re more likely to be make quick decisions, rather than umming and ahhing over whether you should keep something or send it to be recycled. Assemble a collection of rubbish and recycling materials, then either dispose of it yourself or call in the likes of to save you the trip. With all of the unnecessary mess cleared from your house, the space you have available for hosting is now revealed.


The most important thing that you need to do with the space is ensure everyone has somewhere to sleep. All of the other components of surprise hosting can be dealt with – somewhat, anyway – on the fly, but sleeping can’t.

If you find yourself exhausting the space that you have in actual beds, then you need to look to other items of furniture to see how they can be used. Couches and sofas in the living room are popular choices for unexpected guests, but they don’t tend to result in the best night of sleep. If you have got the time, a quick shopping trip for an inflatable air mattress might be the best option. Hopefully, your clearance of rubbish and junk will ensure you have somewhere to put it.

As for bedding, it’s far quicker to try and establish everyone with blankets rather than messing around with duvets and duvets covers. They don’t need to be luxury blankets made of the softest materials; something cheap and simple will do the job for a few sudden nights.

Always ensure that you have good quality pillows, too. Expecting someone just to be able to rest their head on the arm of a sofa or even their own folded arms is not a good hosting tactic. You’re almost certainly going to have to go on at least one shopping trip to deal with a sudden hosting need, so add pillows to the list – at least one per person, but preferably two.


Next, bathroom supplies. Keep it basic here; there’s no need for perfectly folded guest towels or little soaps in the shape of a shell. You do need to ensure every guest is able to clean themselves.

How thorough you have to be in this depends on how much notice you have – and how much notice your guests have. Are they going to be able to pack their own toiletries? Or will you need to supply them? Getting this question answered is imperative, so try and find the chance to solicit an answer.

If you do have to buy everything for them, then keep the costs down by opting for travel sizes of shampoo, shower gel, and toothpaste. You should also grab a few extra towels; one per person per night of their expected stay should suffice.


If people are told they have unexpected guests due to arrive, food is usually the first place that their mind will turn. This is actually not the priority; there is always the option of takeout if you don’t have chance to buy enough food. That’s why it’s important to deal with food last, as it does have a second option – the same cannot be said for ensuring everyone has somewhere to sleep!

While you may pride yourself on providing guests – under normal circumstances – with delicious cuisine, this might not be the time for that. Opt for canned and packet goods, preferably those that can be mixed and matched with one another to create a meal. Keep it simple and easy to store, especially if it’s hot out – you don’t want to run out of fridge space.

Also keep in mind drinking options. A few bottles of water are a good idea, as are a thorough coverage of tea and coffee options. There’s no need to focus on obtaining alcohol unless you know it’s going to be required; stick to simple, soft beverages instead.


Given the lack of time you have to prepare, being able to tick off all of the above is as much as you can be expected to do. You’ve guaranteed everyone has somewhere to sleep, the house isn’t full of junk to trip people over, and there’s going to be food options available. Everything else is just window dressing, so wait for your guests to arrive in the confidence you have done all you can.


Hey there! I'm a professional dreamer, part-time blogger and full-time mum. When I'm not writing about lifestyle related topics on my blog, Sash & Jayd, you can find me creating abstract paintings in my cozy little studio.

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