Enlisting the Five Senses for Making Your Guests Feel Welcome

Tips on Making Guests Feel Welcome in Your Home

How to Use All Five Senses to Make Your Guests Feel Welcome During the Holidays

We are here in November, and if you haven’t already started preparing for the holiday season, chances are you will begin soon.  Celebrating the holidays can inspire get-togethers, and spending time with family undoubtedly means that your home will see its fair share of guests.

Love to entertain but no room?  Our team would love to help you find the right home to handle all your glitz, glitter, and get-togethers!  Set up a customizable property search on our website, or contact one of our experienced agents for more information!

Want to welcome your guests with open arms, even the unexpected ones? 

Here are a few ways to make every guest who walks across your threshold feel welcome.

Much like in home selling, first impressions make a difference, especially if you are expecting company that hasn’t seen your home before. While it is normal to want to put your best foot forward and give a great first expression, you may be at a loss on how to do so. The simple answer is when welcoming guests into your home, cater to their senses.

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The Sense of Scents

When walking into a home, senses are on alert - and one of those most important senses?  Smell.  Having a good-smelling home can give a good impression, and also make people feel immediately at ease.  Being REALTORS Ⓡ, we have walked in on a few homes that have some “unique” odors, if you understand our meaning. The short of it is, that no one sets out having an unpleasant-smelling home, and it certainly doesn’t lend itself to making guests feel welcome.

One of the issues with maintaining a good-smelling home, is that being noseblind to your own home is a real thing. While spending significant time within your home’s four walls you tend to get used to its various scents and odors. The odors in particular that you may not notice, are those that come from pets. Other powerful odors can be from cooking, smoke, shoes, dampness, garbage, diapers, etc.  Also if you have a home that has a large amount of carpet, drapery, and soft furnishings, all of these items can help hold and trap the odors of your home you most likely want to get rid of.

So the first step to making people who visit your home feel welcome, is to make sure your home smells pleasant. There are various ways to do so, without overwhelming the senses the other way - yes, it is possible to have too much of a good scent.  The trick is to not overpower by masking odors with artificial scents, but to reach a balance between diffusing and addressing the source of the odors.

  • Clean - giving your home a once over when expecting guests is a great way to take care of any typical odors. A once-over with a vacuum after sprinkling baking powder or a deodorizer on a carpet can give an overall pleasant scent.  Some people may opt to give their home a professional carpet cleaning in preparation for the holidays, especially if they are the main host.
  • Air purifiers - investing in an air purification system, even a small one can help the overall air quality in your home. Air purifiers can help with scents and allergens from pet dander, smoke, dust, mold, and other allergens.
  • A quick light spray from odor-catching sprays like Febreze, can “lock in” odors quickly, but be careful not to saturate, or overwhelm.
  • An essential oils air diffuser disperses aromatic essential oils into the air. It can fill a room with fragrance. The diffuser breaks your oil and water mixture into microscopic particles so they can enter the air. Some guests may be sensitive to fragrances. In that case, an evaporative diffuser may be most effective. Keep your diffuser away from food and drinks, or in another room entirely, to keep the air subtly fragrant without overwhelming anyone. One of the most important benefits of a diffuser is that it’s a safer alternative to chemical-laden room fresheners.
  • Get rid of moisture in your home by using a dehumidifier. The smell of mold or dampness can be a smell that can not only affect your sensitive guests but also be hazardous to your health over time.  Mold is a particular allergen that many people are sensitive to.  Having a dehumidifier running in your home can help alleviate the troublesome moisture that breeds mold.
  • Fix the obvious odor sources.  Before expecting guests, empty your garbage cans, change the litter box, and put away sneakers or sports equipment from common areas.
  • Having a simmer pot full of the season's scents like cranberry, apple or cinnamon is a great way to adhere a pleasant aroma in your home. A simple concoction of fruit and spice in a pot of water simmering on your stove is a great way to achieve some great scents.
  • Bake something.  Nothing is more pleasant and welcoming than the scent of something delicious wafting from the kitchen. This also is beneficial two-fold as it provides something delectable for your guests to partake in as well.

Seeing is Believing

The next sense that is on alert when someone walks into a new place is sight. As a person is greeted at the door, their sight, like their smell, is already on high alert. The walk to your doorway, the brief wait as they ring the bell, the opening of the door.  Your guests have already been taking in what they see.  Having a clean and tidy entryway, and approach to your home, gives the subtle messages “We were expecting you” and “Come right in”.  If your guests have to traipse through an icy walkway, an unshoveled path, or a kid's bicycle just to get to your front door, they may feel less than welcome.  Remove all obstacles, both physical and visual for a clear path to your front door.

Upon entering your home, their eyes greet you first, and then perhaps glance around their immediate surroundings. Make an immediate good impression, by:

  • Having a clean and tidy home. Again, make the path into your home clear for walking. It is possible for some guests to feel uneasy if your home is “too clean’ - as it gives off a sterile appearance, as opposed to a welcoming one. Guests themselves as well as their belongings feel like clutter in a too pristine environment. So when preparing for guests, a clean but but not too clean home is appealing.
  • Give your guests a place to set their things. A spot that is reserved for their coat, or bag will again make them feel like they were expected, or that their presence is not an inconvenience. Even taking their coat, and things can be another gesture to show that they are welcome, and also give the indication that you would like them to settle in.
  • In addition to showing them where they can put their coat and belongings, (or where you have put them), show your guests where the necessities are.  By letting them know where the bathroom is, and where their personal effects are, will remove any awkwardness they may feel if they have to ask you later, or take out any mystery of which bathroom or bathrooms you are comfortable with them using.


You could be a hugger.  If so, you may greet your guests with a warm embrace as they enter your door.  This is especially likely if it has been a while between visits. That is certainly an immediate way to make people feel like you are happy to see them and happy to have them in your home. However, not everyone who enters your home will be a hugger.  While it may be hard for a hugger to imagine that everyone doesn’t like a warm embrace - it is definitely true, so put to use one of the other ways to make someone feel welcome by focusing on the sense of touch that they do feel comfortable with.

Embrace them with your words.  A warm welcome can be administered through meaningful words, that are heartfelt. Give them a comfortable place to relax, and feel at home. A comfortable chair or spot by the warm fireplace is especially welcoming when coming in from the cold.  A chair with a beautiful view of the outdoors, or of the shining Christmas tree says subtly, “Welcome, I have saved the best spot for you.”  Meeting your guest's physical comfort needs is especially important to make them feel at ease.  Letting them keep their shoes on, or offering a pair of cozy guest slippers in place of wet footwear, is an extra special touch. An offering of a blanket, or to have one nearby is another way to make sure that your guest's needs are met.


“Make yourself at home.”  When welcoming people into our homes, this phrase is often used.  What does it mean to you? While you probably don’t mean - go ahead change into a pair of my sweatpants, snuggle into my comfy bed, watch Netflix, and eat all my snacks, you probably do mean “Relax, please feel comfortable, and please be at ease around me and my home”.

  • One way to ensure that your guests feel welcome is to make them a priority. Even if you have things to do, focus on their presence.
  • Turn off the TV, and put down the phone. In short, spend time in their presence, not in your electronic devices. It is very easy to get distracted by other things, so taking a phone or a TV out of the equation is a good idea.
  • Listen, then talk. You can make a person feel welcome by doing more listening than talking.  Giving someone your attention, and being a good listener is sometimes worth 100 of the words you could say back.

Depending on the situation, you may not be able to give them your full undivided attention, but in that case, include them in conversation with others, and introduce them to people they may not know. Pull up a stool to the kitchen island if you need to tend to matters in the kitchen.  Above all, do not leave them floundering as to what they should do next, or where they should be.

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Having your guests feel welcome, and making them feel like they are not an inconvenience is to give the impression you were expecting them.  One surefire way to do that is to have refreshments on hand.

  • Have quick and easy prep snacks on hand during peak visitation times in the case of unexpected visitors.  It is also a good idea to have a gluten-free option in case there is a dietary preference.
  • If you are expecting guests, having something baking always exudes the feeling of homeyness
  • Offer a warm or cold beverage, and be sure to offer more than once.
  • Make them feel comfortable eating as well, by partaking in refreshments alongside your guests.  No one likes to eat or drink alone.
  • Make it easy for them.  Give a napkin, a coaster, the proper utensils, and a nearby table to set things upon.
  • Even if you don’t have time or the energy for a homecooked treat, store-bought cookies or a box of chocolates can look just as appealing if presented on a pretty or festive plate.

As They Go

One of the best ways to make your guests feel welcomed into your home, not just during the holiday season, but at any time is to extend the invitation for a future visit. If you are able, send them a text message or give them a call afterward, to express to them how much you enjoyed seeing them. It will also make them feel that your offer to come again, was genuine and sincere.

The holidays are also a time when out-of-town guests come for a visit, or perhaps you are the one who is doing the visiting.  If you are looking to move closer to your family or friends we can help no matter where you want to be.  Our team has a vast network of trusted REALTORS Ⓡ all across the globe, who can help get you in just the right home and neighborhood for all those holidays to come! Contact us using the form below, or by giving us a call at (816) 268-4033!

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