They have been called many things – hotel guest gift, overnight visitor gift, guest gift basket, etc. – but they all come down to the same idea: when you have overnight guests stay (at a hotel or in your home), it’s a nice gesture to provide them with a few things to make their visit easier. It takes some of the stress of travel and being away from their own bed out of the picture. For you as the host, it can help you anticipate some of your guests’ needs, and you can make up a few in advance to have on hand for unexpected guests. It’s a win-win for both sides!

Like most things, gift baskets can be as affordable or as expensive as you make them. We try to err on the side of affordable, but feel free to go crazy if you have the resources and money! Nothing says “please come back again” like the deluxe treatment.

Considering that most gift baskets contain items you think your guests might need when you aren’t readily available to provide (or they are too shy to ask you), here are some of our suggestions:

Travel-sized or individual packets of medicine. If you have a lot of guests or are also stocking first aid kits, you can get boxes of individual packets like the kind you see in pre-assembled first aid kits and at doctors’ offices. The easiest way to purchase them is online at retail giants like Amazon. You can also find them sometimes at bulk warehouses like Sam’s or Costco. Don’t have that many guests? In that case just get the travel-sized version as it’s cheaper. The medications that we find useful are:

  • allergy relief / antihistamine
  • antacids
  • anti-diarrheal
  • anti-nausea
  • pain relief (acetaminophen, aspirin, and / or ibuprofen)

Facial tissue. It’s great for a runny nose, removing make-up, and cleaning up small messes. Travel packets are the best because your guest can take them when they leave, but a larger box that stays in the room is also fine. I have never known a box of tissues to go to waste.

Bottle of water and a small snack. For tight spaces and a low budget, a plastic cup and easy access to a sink can replace a bottle of water if you prefer. Otherwise, guests enjoy bottled water, especially when it’s not the $20 bottles available for purchase at hotels. When it comes to a snack, something simple like a pack of saltines (the two-cracker packs that come with your meal work well) or a pack of nuts fits the bill. Some of the blogs I have read suggested sparkling water, fancy chocolates, gourmet cheeses, and WHOA. Slow down. If your guest is so hungry they want all of that, they need a meal, not a night time snack.

Travel-sized toiletries. It seems inevitable that everyone forgets something when they travel, and that something is often toothpaste, shampoo, etc. Finding travel-sized toiletries is a breeze as they are widely available at most grocery and drug stores. (My personal favorite is pre-pasted disposable toothbrushes, which are also good for keeping at the office, in your lunchbox, and in your travel bags. You can find them online, but they do cost more; stick with an inexpensive spare toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste to keep the cost down.) TIP: When buying toiletries for guests, avoid those that are heavily perfumed or overtly feminine or masculine. You will get more use out of neutral toiletries that everyone can use.  Here is our list of suggested toiletries:

  • toothpaste & toothbrush (optional: mouthwash and / or floss)
  • soap
  • shampoo & conditioner
  • lotion
  • razor

Entertainment. I see a lot of blogs saying you should have magazines and books on hands for guests. Boy, that can get expensive. It also doesn’t always make sense in today’s digital environment when most people have smart phones, tablets, etc. and the average household has multiple televisions and / or internet service. If you feel strongly about it or have older guests, the latest version of the local newspaper is a cheaper option with a variety of article topics. If you have the time, you can also see if there are free newsletters available from your local tourism bureau, historical society, chamber of commerce, or business bureau. These can double as advertisements for places to see and things to do if your guests want to tour the area.

A custom touch. To take your gift basket a step further, add something personalized to your visitor. If your best friend loves cashews, then make the snack a small tin of cashews. If your mother prefers epsom salts with her bath, then include a bag of epsom salts. Wowing your guests doesn’t mean spending more money; it means tailoring the gift basket to them because it shows you were thinking of them and what they like. It helps make your home feel more like their home.

And that is the most welcoming gift of all.