How to Design a Festive Guest Bedroom for the Holidays

The right bedding and décor accents can help guests feel right at home.

A guest bedroom decorated to celebrate Christmas and the holidays: A bed with two pillows and dark bedding, a string of decorative stars over the headboard, and garland with lights.
Maryna Terletska / Getty Images

The holiday season is here, and with it comes an influx of out-of-towners ready to settle into your guest room, air mattress, or spare nook. The holidays are notoriously stressful, and when combined with travels, it can be hard to unwind and settle in.

The key to hosting visitors is making sure that guests are comfortable and can feel at home — whether overnight or for long winter naps. After all, the season is about enjoying quality time with loved ones near and far, and creating memories that will last for years to come.

We’ve outlined four key tips for making the guest bedroom as warm and welcoming as possible during the holidays, this year and in the future.

1. Dress the bed

Make Aunt Jane feel like she’s checking into a winter wonderland that has all of the comfort of a five-star hotel by paying extra attention to how you style the bed. It doesn’t matter whether guests will be sleeping in a twin or a king — it’s truly all about presentation here!

To make the guest room feel cheery, opt for bed linens that reflect the colors and textures of the season. Go for a mix of red, green, and white fabrics, and don’t be shy about leaning into anything plaid or flannel.

Designer Liza Kuhn suggests dressing the bed with layers. “Add one to two throws to the foot of the bed, and place a decorative holiday lumbar or bolster pillow in front of the shams,” she advises. Keep in mind that hotel beds are full of pillows galore — the more cushions, the merrier!

And note that truly seasonal textiles aren’t just for kids — a pillow or blanket depicting snowflakes, evergreen trees, or even a festive tartan will help guests get into the festive spirit as soon as they unpack their suitcase.

2. Help guests get warm and cozy

Kuhn notes that placing a robe or pair of slippers at the bedside is an “extra special gesture of hospitality.” If you reside in a cold-weather locale and have guests visiting from warmer cities, you may wish to also set out a new pair of fuzzy socks that visitors can slip on prior to bedtime or while lounging around the house.

If you wish to present your visitors with a little something extra, place these items in a festive gift basket. It is the season of giving, after all! Want to really nail the welcoming experience? Add small, affordable trinkets, such as a tiny nutcracker or dreidel, your visitor’s favorite holiday candy, or some savory snacks so that they have something to munch. A Bluetooth speaker could help them dial up the holiday tunes, or leave a Fraiser fir-scented candle or two, along with a matchbook.

Take it to the next level: If you have a spare humidifier, add it to the room, particularly if your visitors are traveling from a more humid locale. It can be difficult for everyone to get quality Zzz’s during the holidays, especially when traveling to a new environment.

3. Add seasonal décor 

Holiday décor ideas for the guest bedroom. Garland and seasonal figurines are arranged in front of a gold-trimmed mirror.
Lauren Zillinger / Laura Metzler Photography

By no means do you need to decorate your guest room so that it resembles Santa’s workshop, but a few holiday touches will once again help guests feel nice and celebratory and wake up with a pep in their step. All you need to do is place a petite faux Christmas tree in the corner, or set a menorah or a little village display atop the dresser.

Don’t forget about the bedside table, either. Make sure that it is equipped with a working lamp, an alarm clock, and a few welcoming accent pieces — think hand cream, linen spray, or a holiday welcome card. If you know that your guests don’t have any aversions to fragrance, you can also set a balsam-scented candle and some matches atop their nightstand and they’ll truly feel like they’re relaxing in a winter wonderland.

Take it to the next level: Hang a wreath above the headboard, string garland over the closet, or place a cluster of battery-operated candles atop the nightstand so that guests can unwind in peace each evening.

4. Add entertainment

Guest bedroom decor for the holidays. A framed picture of a woman hangs above a nightstand dressed with a petit faux Christmas tress, a stack of books with a candle on top, and a reindeer.
Lauren Zillinger / Laura Metzler Photography

Holidays tend to revolve around togetherness, but even the most extroverted guest will enjoy retreating to their sleep area for a break from the holiday hubbub. Leave them a few books or holiday magazines to leaf through.

Little ones may enjoy curling up with a holiday-themed coloring book or watching a holiday classic like Elf or Home Alone, so be sure to write down the password for any streaming services, too!

If you know that your guest isn’t a bookworm, setting out a book of crosswords or an album of old holiday cards will still keep them entertained.

So, there you have it! All it takes to welcome visitors into your home this season is incorporating a mix of practical and aesthetically pleasing touches into the guest room. Don’t be surprised if you end up hosting for the long haul!