Not Your Typical House Guest Gift Basket

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overhead view of blue basket with tag saying "We're so glad you're here! Please make yourself at home." filled with cleaning supplies next to roll of paper towels and toilet paper on white wood table

As a military family, we’re always stationed hours (and often time zones) away from our families. It’s our tradition for our extended families to come visit over the holidays. Because we live so far from our families, whenever they come to visit it’s for a longer visit. I love having family stay with us for as long as they can and I want to make them feel welcome. Because my family members are not typical house guests (they’re family after all, not guests), I make them feel at home with a not-your-typical house guest gift basket.

I come from a long line of get it done kinda folks. We’re not ones to sit around and watch someone else do a job – we jump in and help. Fortunately, I married into a similar kind of family. When I first got married and hosted our families at our home, I did my best to spoil my guests and take wonderful care of them. But my family fought me the entire time. They just kept wanting to help straighten up and clean up after themselves (I know poor, poor me, right?). Telling them, “No, thank you.” didn’t help. Hiding the cleaning supplies didn’t help (they’re not shy, they’ll ask or just go looking under the kitchen sink for what they need). I finally realized that my family feels most at home and most welcomed when they can act like they’re at home and part of that is helping to clean up their guest room and bathroom. So rather than playing an elaborate keep-them-from-cleaning game, I’ve found that providing a not-your-typical house guest gift basket makes everyone happy.

close up label on blue basket filled with containers. Label says "We're so glad you're here/ Please make yourself at home."

Before you start judging me and thinking, “Why doesn’t she just put a ‘Glad You’re Here, Don’t Be a Slob’ label on this gift basket?” I give my other house guests a more traditional gift basket. You know, the kind filled with little soaps, little shampoos, lovely chocolate and fancy coffee. So don’t worry that I’ll expect you to clean up if you come to visit, you’ll get the fancy chocolate gift basket. 

I include the basics that allow my family to take care of their own laundry, bedroom and bathroom.

House Guest Gift Basket Supplies

Paper Towels –  I mainly use reusable cloths for cleaning around my home, but there are just some cleaning tasks that require paper towels.

Disinfecting Wipes – I like to decorate the wipes container to make it a bit more welcoming. 

Baking Soda Cleanser – Baking soda cleanser is my favorite all-purpose natural way to clean. 

Scrubby Sponge – A little elbow grease and a scrubby sponge can tackle anything. 

Microfiber Cloth – A cloth is an easy way to wipe down the shower walls and chrome handles to prevent water spots. 

Duster Wand – A Swiffer duster wand is great for dusting delicate pieces as well as hard-to-reach spots. 

overhead view of blue sponge, blue cloth, white canister with floral label, 2 jars with handwritten labels, roll of paper towels and duster with yellow handle

Laundry Detergent – A small individual container of laundry detergent allows my family to do their laundry when they need to. 

overhead view of white piece of paper, blue marker, 2 glass jars and blue circle punch

There’s something so much more charming about small containers. Creating guest-sized containers is easy. I start with a repurposed spice jar and a small 1 to 2 cup sized jar. I specifically chose jars with lids that coordinated with each other and my cleaning supplies to make the gift basket more attractive (it is a gift basket after all). You’ll also need white card stock paper, a marker, a circle punch, decoupage glue and a sponge brush.

overhead view of bottle of with yellow label, sponge brush and 2 jars with round handwritten labels sitting slightly ajar on top

I made labels for each jar and decoupaged them to the lids of the containers.

overhead view of blue cloth, bottle with red lid that says "baking soda cleanser" and glass jar with red and white lid that says "laundry detergent"

Creating guest-sized jars for cleanser and laundry detergent just seems much more welcoming and less like I’m putting my guests to work. 

overhead view of bottle with red shaker lid next to glass jar with small blue scoop and red checked lid that says "laundry detergent"

I made sure to use a spice jar for the cleanser so that it’s easy to sprinkle the cleanser where you need it. I also add a small scoop to the jar of laundry detergent for my guests’ smaller loads of laundry. 

overhead view of blue basket with tag saying "We're so glad you're here! Please make yourself at home." filled with cleaning supplies next to roll of paper towels and toilet paper on wood table

I place all the cleaning products in a basket to keep under the sink with the paper towels in the guest bath. Of course, I provide a replenishment stock of toilet tissue, too. There’s nothing more embarrassing, as a guest, than to need more toilet paper and not be able to find it (trust me).

Since we’ll be having guests for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, I figured I’d stock up on cleaning supplies this week. With so many guests coming and a busy two months, I purposefully stocked up so I wouldn’t run out of key products. Don’t get caught without is my holiday motto. 

overhead view of blue basket with tag saying "We're so glad you're here! Please make yourself at home." filled with cleaning supplies next to roll of paper towels and toilet paper on white wood table

Be sure to stock up on supplies and while you’re there, be sure to get what you need to make your own not-your-typical house guest gift basket.

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  1. Hi Susan. Family is family and I can see why they would feel more at home by pitching in and helping themselves. Love your house guest gift basket.Best wishes, Darlene

  2. My mom would love this kind of gift basket. She was just here this week and is definitely a pitch in and help kind of guest. I also do not like home supply shopping so getting everything I need to last a long time is definitely the way to go. #client

  3. This is such a great idea. I am always trying to spoil my Mom and not let her do anything. I will have to make up a basket like this so she can at least feel responsible for her bathroom and bedroom. I love Costco and have many favorites there – I get lost in the food section! I think my favorite section is the cheese area!

  4. I love this! We have a detached garage with an apartment where we put up guests. I just leave the detergent out but I need to make up these little baskets make guests feel more welcome. Thanks Susan!

  5. This is such a great idea to make guests feel completely at home and invite them to use your washing machine. Inspired by your post, I’m making up one of these baskets now for my son who will be coming home next month for the holidays.

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