The Best Gear for Holiday Hosting

Updated December 2018

When family and friends arrive for longer stays, you’ll need a few extra supplies—especially if the spares you keep in the back of the linen closet are worn, or not sturdy enough for pint-sized guests. Keeping a few key comforts on hand will give your guests the independence to make themselves at home. We’ve collected some of our favorite bed, bath, and kitchen gear to help you anticipate common houseguest needs and make your home feel more inviting. Our picks reflect hundreds of hours of research and testing, and we’ve focused primarily on budget-friendly options. You probably don’t need everything on this list, but covering the basics will allow you and your guests to focus on what matters: spending time together.



Pillows

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

Stocking up on a few pillows just for guests will save you from pulling your own favorites from your bed in the name of hospitality. Plus, guests will appreciate having a pillow that is actually comfortable and hasn’t flattened over years of use. After spending a combined 459 nights sleeping on 45 pillows and talking with a half-dozen sleep and industry experts, we’ve concluded that the best pillow for most people is the Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow. The Xtreme Comforts was the only pillow in our tests that suited a variety of sleep positions—side, back, and stomach. Everyone loved how it was supportive without being too stiff or firm. And for around $49.97 right now (less for the slim version), it’s pretty affordable.


Air mattress

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

After researching dozens of guest-bed options (including camping pads and futons) and spending five nights sleeping on four air mattresses, we think the SoundAsleep Dream Series air mattress is the bed you’ll want to make up for your overnight guests. It also rolls up into a compact package for easy storage.


Power strip

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

Last update on 2018-12-07 PST - Details

Providing a power station for visitors, whether they’re staying for a few hours or a few days, will save them from wandering your house in search of an outlet for their phone, tablet, or computer. After researching dozens of models, we like the Accell Home or Away Power Station and the Tripp Lite Protect It 3-Outlet Surge Protector because of their small size and affordable price. Unlike larger power strips, either can fit in the tiniest of guest spaces but can still accommodate even the bulkiest AC adapters. Guests will be grateful for the three outlets and two USB ports, too—the surge protector should be able to keep a couple’s devices powered up at once. Plus, you can pack up this portable power station the next time you take a trip. Since these two models are the same device sold under different brands, just get whichever is cheapest.


Fan

If you live in a building with out-of-control radiators, a fan can cool an overheated bedroom or provide white noise to help visitors sleep soundly. After close to 60 hours of fan research (and nearly a week of testing), we found that the Seville Classics UltraSlimLine 40-Inch Tower Fan was the best fan for most people. The Seville simply circulated more air than any other fan we tested, and it has a compact footprint and a stable design. It comes with the best remote control in our test group and an oscillating mode that lets you easily share the breezy wealth with whoever needs it. This model wasn’t the quietest fan we found, but if you’re looking for white noise in addition to cool air, that may be a plus.


Earplugs

Light sleepers will appreciate good earplugs when a closed door just isn’t enough to block out noise. We tested 25 top-rated earplug models while sleeping in a house next to an airport, and we found that Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs are the best earplugs for most people. Their 37-decibel noise-reduction rating was one of the highest among the models we tested. According to Cooper Safety, that’s enough to reduce the volume of a gas lawn mower to that of a normal conversation. Compared with the other earplugs we tried, the Mack’s were more comfortable (thanks to their tapered design), and they stayed in our tester’s ears better throughout the night.


Coffee and tea setup

An easy-to-use coffee and tea setup means your guests can brew their own beverages without waiting for you to wake up, and they can retreat for a pick-me-up at any time of day. For brewing tea, we recommend the simple design of the Finum Brewing Basket. It steeps tea without getting any particles into the pot or mug, and it made some of the best tea of the 15 infusers we tried. For brewing coffee, we think guests will appreciate the AeroPress. This easy-to-use coffee maker comes with filters and makes even cheap coffee taste good. In our tests, we preferred the flavor that some other pour-over methods produced, but we think the simple, all-in-one design of the AeroPress is more practical for guests who just want a cup of coffee without a lot of fuss.


Electric kettle

Last update on 2018-12-08 PST - Details

If you’d like to set up a brewing station atop a bedroom dresser or in a special kitchen guest nook, get an electric kettle for boiling water. Our top pick, the Cuisinart CPK-17, bested all the other electric kettles we tried, thanks to a winning combination of speed, accuracy, and ease of use.


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