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Be My Guest

Tips from the Pros for Making Visitors Feel Welcome


With Thanksgiving around the corner and December trailing just behind, the whir of the holiday season is upon us. When our homes fill up with guests, what’s the best way to slow down and make them feel comfortable? We asked seven tastemakers for their secret strategies.

“I usually put a mini bottle of Patrón Silver or champagne with a crystal glass on a small tray in the guestroom—and a bud vase with one singular stem of a seasonal flower. It shows a sense of humor and brings a festive feeling. Your guests will be excited and ready for a party!” –Cindy Rinfret, Rinfret, Ltd., Greenwich

“When we have guests, my wife makes a dinner that knocks their socks off! She’s the best chef around; everyone wants to come back for more. For Thanksgiving, she makes an amazing turkey that she gets special from Texas. I don’t let the guests take any home, but she sneaks them some anyway. We also have a welcoming party: our collies, Arjun and Sadev.” –Dinyar Wadia, Wadia Associates, New Canaan

As soon as I smelled Patch NYC’s Stag candle, I bought a dozen! It’s intoxicating and instantly gets me in the holiday spirit. I like to put one on nightstand in my guestroom so the warmth of the holiday decorations carries right upstairs. It’s cozy and festive, as if a bunch of fresh-cut pine branches were sitting by the bedside.” –Susan Bednar Long, S.B. Long Interiors, NYC/Connecticut

“Flowers are a special way to make a guest feel welcomed. Our Creamy Camellias and Peonies is the perfect bedside bouquet, and since artificial flowers have no scent, why not pair it with a winter-scented candle? Guests will feel so at home, they may never want to leave!” –Carolyn McDonough, Diane James Home, Norwalk

“I have a small pantry and refrigerator on the guestroom’s floor where I stock a chilled bottle of champagne with some stilton cheese and good crackers for the holidays. That way, if guests get the holiday munchies they do not have to go down three flights of steps to find the kitchen!” –Carolyne Roehm, Floral Designer/ Tastemaker/Author, NYC

“For overnight guests, I have these special baskets. I take the towels for them to use and roll them up really neatly, then place them in the baskets with a fragrant bar of soap. It gives the room a wonderful scent. Then, I put a real clock on the nightstand set to the right time. And of course, really neatly pressed sheets.” –Barbara Sallick, Co-Founder and SVP of Design, Waterworks, Danbury

“I like to hang a scented oval disc in the closet and in the drawers to give guests’ clothes a fresh soft scent. Baies from Diptyque Paris is my favorite. Spritzing the sheets with a lavender linen spray is an added bonus.” –Sara Gilbane, principal designer, Sara Gilbane Interiors, NYC