Don’t Host Overnight Guests Without Doing This

What You Need On Your Kitchen Counter When You’re Hosting Overnight Guests

Do you host overnight guests in your home?

I do, and since we moved to the lake, I do a lot of it.

Kitchen set up for guests to use easilyOvernight Guests Will Be More Comfy When You Do This

When hosting guests, most of us tend to focus on getting a guest room or sleeping space set up, making sure the bed/sofa/blow-up mattress is comfy and the bathroom is clean.

I have written a few of these types of posts, but there is one thing that many forget to include when hosting overnighters and that is making it really easy for guests to use your kitchen….

Snacks and food ideas for overnight guests placed on kitchen counter

…I am not talking about what to stock in your refrigerator, but making it easy for guests to feel comfortable to serve themselves in your kitchen.

How to keep a lot of overnight guests happy.

Two weeks ago, we had a houseful of Kelly and Roger’s friends to the house for 3 days of pre-wedding festivities. A house full of mostly 30 year olds, in-laws and friends made for a week of fun, but a little prep and planning on my part.

We have two guests rooms and we set up blow-up beds in the game room.  The living room sofa and recliners also were used for sleeping.

To keep meals simple, we ate out every night. I had cereal, bagels, eggs, bacon and juice for breakfast. For lunch, sandwiches, chips, pickles and drinks of all sorts.

Snacks and food ideas for overnight guests placed on kitchen counter

I also set up what I refer to as a Butler’s Station for Overnight Guests on the kitchen counter.

Most guests, even after you tell them to make themselves at home, will feel awkward looking through your cabinets to find a bowl for breakfast cereal. Avoid this scenario by setting up a Butler’s Station.

Why Set Up a Butler’s Station for Overnight Guests?

A butler’s station is kind of an expansion of a butler’s tray. It allows your guests to easily prep meals or food without having to ask you or go into your cabinets and or pantry for plates, glasses and utensils. Putting paper plates and snacks right out in the open makes it easy for them to simply grab what they need and then toss in the trash when done.

It also is a place for snacks for them to enjoy during the day between meals or in the middle of the night. It is a convenient entertaining essential for me.

Kitchen Snacks ideas and entertaining tips for overnight guests.

What to Put In a Butler’s Station for Overnight Guests

When guests are hungry, they won’t hesitate to make a simple meal or grab something to munch on between meals as they won’t have to ask as you for something to eat as you have made the station clearly there for them.

You may not need to have as many snacks as I had out, but for each visit, size and fill the Butler’s Station for the amount of days and guests staying with you.

  • Paper products make for easy clean up. Paper plates, bowls, hot and cold cups. For holiday occasions, use festive napkins.
  • Pre-packaged snacks – chips, popcorn, candy, nuts.
  • Granola Bars. I stocked the station with Kind Bar Mini’s. They were a big hit. I even went out to buy more since the contents of the first two boxes were gone after the first day.
  • Fresh fruit
  • Teabags
  • Sugar, salt and pepper.
  • At night you can set up boxes of cereal, bread and set the timer on the coffee maker to brew coffee to be ready in the morning for the early risers. Move items like eggs, milk, juice and condiments to the front of the fridge.

Kitchen Snacks ideas and entertaining tips for overnight guests.

I use different vessels to hold it all depending on the size of the crowd and how long they are staying.  Tray style baskets and wood boxes found at the thrift store work well.  In the past I have also used tiered trays and bowls.

Kitchen Snacks ideas and entertaining tips for overnight guests.

Make sure to have a few different types of snacks that will please all types of eaters.. junk food as well as a few healthy snacks.

Kitchen Snacks ideas and entertaining tips for overnight guests.

Cold drinks in the fridge and teabags for hot drink lovers.  The coffee maker is available on another section of the kitchen counter.

Decorating with glass canisters

I have even been known to set up a few snacks in the guest room for guests on a dresser…

Guest room decorating ideas

… and even on a chic DIY butler’s tray in a corner. Well fed guests are happy guests.

Kitchen Snacks ideas and entertaining tips for overnight guests.

Having a butler’s station set up in your kitchen somewhere will surely not only make your hosting duties easier, but your guest’s visit more enjoyable also.

Do you do anything special for overnight guests when they come to stay at your house?



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  1. Great idea. I always make sure the guest room has all the amenities, but now I will be adding this to the kitchen.

    Thank you.

  2. What a great idea! We have guests come up to our lakehouse and I was needing an idea just like this. thanks!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – Setting up your kitchen counter with snacks, plates, bowls etc is one of the best things I do for guests. They always feel more comfy in the kitchen and can grab something to eat without needing help from you -which allows both you and them a great time time.

  3. Emma Hancock says:

    Great Ideas! Thanks for the tips. It will help make hosting guests a lot easier.

  4. I love this idea, but if I had these items in our pantry for guest visits, my husband would eat them all before the next round of guests arrived! Do you have that problem?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Loryn – I don’t only because my husband is not a snacker. Drives me crazy! 3 meals a day and he is good to go. :-)

  5. Love this idea! We are having some family come and visit us for a few and days. I love this idea for breakfast and snacks.
    I probably won’t be using paper plates as it is just two guest this time.

  6. Melissa Milligan says:

    Love this idea, especiallyfor my dad who is an all night snacker at my house because of his alzheimers.

  7. Diane Henkler, How do you handle the wet towels?

  8. Perfect timing! I have guests coming this weekend, and I’ve never thought of this! Been thinking only of clean sheets and bathrooms. Thank you, Diane!

  9. Gail Vernali says:

    Wonderful idea,!This would really make hosting guests so much easier and our guests so much more comfortable.

  10. Since it’s Plastic FREE July, I wouldn’t use anything plastic. I know it can be a pain, but for our environment it’s totally worth it. Use melamine plates instead of plastic/paper ( I know they require washing, but again worth it), use metal straws, cloth napkins etc………. XOXO Check out on IG : dot & army, bee wraps, kidskonserve

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Susan –

      I don’t like using paper products, but they are easy, but I totally understand your point of view. I will check out the IG accts you mentioned. :-)

  11. What a great idea! I definitely will pin this for future reference.

  12. Great idea with making your kitchen comfortable since i’m hosting a lot of guest to I need to think about this.

  13. LaurieRae says:

    My teen grandkids come for the day and with them a host of friends. I have learned to set up a snack station so I am not constantly playing waitress. Unfortunately, when my brother came for a week, I didn’t think to do it for him, so thanks for giving me an Ahuh moment

  14. Great suggestions! It will help me from going around asking people if they want something to eat. I will definitely try this the next time i have guests!

  15. Everything looks great! But just – why to use disposable in your kitchen?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mari – I use disposable to make it easy for guests to clean up after themselves. It also depends on how many guests are staying. If only one or two, I would not use disposable. I had a crowd and the dishwasher would have been filled and running 2 x a day. Paper products make it easy for everyone.

  16. always have Mini muffins, trail mix & sugar free treats.I keep the Brita Water Pitcher out for people that don’t use Plastic or bottled water. have a ice chest/cooler on Back Deck for can soda or juices.

  17. How do you handle the wet towels? I never have space to hang them all until they are washed : (

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carol –

      Wet towels are a big deal even when you only have a few guests staying. I have two hooks on the back of each guest room door for each occupant of the room to hang their wet towel. I also have three hooks on the back of the bathroom door just for towels. I also give each guest a different color towel so towels don’t get mixed up. If towels are really wet, then I ask them to bring them to the laundry room where I will dry them in the dryer, but this hardly ever happens.

      The upstairs bathroom in my house is only used by guests. The bathroom used by guests in my previous house had to be shared with my daughters. To keep the wet towel situation under control, I made the corner of the guest room a wet towel hanging place complete with the word TOWELS so that the guests towels would not be confused with the bathroom towels that my daughters used.

  18. Joanne B. says:

    Another one of those posts where I smack myself on the forehead for not thinking of this myself! Brilliant! Reminds me of the set up we were provided when we stayed at Air B n B’s in Italy on a recent trip. So perfect! Will definitely do this when my daughter comes with her beau- she of course makes herself at home but the BF is hesitant to go into the pantry for a snack. And we all know men are always looking for a snack!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Joanne – :-) Men and even some shy guests simply won’t ask where things are, they just go without. Putting it all out where they can see it seems to take that shyness away.

  19. I LOVE all your ideas! You are truly inspirational in so many, many ways.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you so much Sheryl. Having a blog is the best way I know to share my ideas and more. Thanks for reading.

  20. Thanks for this great idea, Diane, Happy 4th!

  21. Mary Boger says:

    When can I come and sta y? There days, promise I won’t be any trouble! I’ll even pay for dinners. I need a break, lol ?

  22. This is one of the best ideas I’ve ever seen on the Internet! Thanks. Happy 4th. ??????

  23. Excellent idea! Have not done this but will put into action soon.

  24. This is a wonderful idea! I even have a coffee maker in my guest room, with a pur pitcher and a basket full of toiletries in my guest bathroom. I’m so happy to have a place to invite guests to. Just stopping by from BlogLovin.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Heather – That is an excellent idea… to have a coffeemaker in the guest room. :-) Will have to figure out a way to do it in my house. Thanks for stopping by from Bloglovin. I love that app.

  25. Toni Ellington says:

    Great idea for feeding your house guests! I always put a basket or tin with travel size toiletries in the guest bathroom. I use toiletries we collect when we stay in hotels, or buy them in local dollar stores.

  26. Deb Wostmann says:

    What a great idea. Wish I had thought of that. We have many guests and on several occasions family reunions hosted in our home. This will be the first thing I set up next time. Thank you for such a useful idea.

  27. I love this idea! I’m already thinking of how I can set this up next holiday season.

  28. Debbie Feeney says:

    Fantastic ideas!! Thanks♥️♥️

  29. romeogirl says:

    Great idea. I just had guests and only focused on bedroom and bath. That made food fixins a little stressful.