Getting the guest bathroom ready for the holiday hordes

Each year, all efforts to deck the halls tend to fall on the dinner table, the front door and the mantel, leaving the humble guest bath woefully ignored.

And considering there are few among us who can designate an entire bathroom to guest status 365 days a year, chances are you’re directing guests to use a regularly in-rotation bathroom.

Even more reason to turn your attention to sprucing up the space in the name of company.

We’ll admit: It’s hardly as festive and fun to decorate as some of the more holiday-themed spaces, but it’s time to dress it up for style and substance. Guests will thank you —  maybe not to your face, but that doesn’t mean the gratitude is any less real. Here are some tips for getting the bathroom ready for guests:


Soap dispenser

Forget the bar of soap, which can be prone to stuck-on hair or an unappealing sheen. Replace it with a pump bottle of festive-smelling soap. Buy one that comes in an attractive bottle and you’ve saved yourself the additional step of pouring it into a pricey dispenser. Pink Persimmon hand wash by Rebecca Atwood for Method, $3.50 at

Extra toilet paper — in clear sight

We don’t have to tell you to put your toilet paper on a holder, do we? (One offbeat one we like is the Pop Perf toilet paper holder by Eric Trine, $38 at But you’re bound to run out over the course of a party, and hidden TP is known to cause momentary panic attacks. Luckily, some designers are smart enough to create products that showcase an extra stash of toilet paper, such as this basket: It comes in a set of three, so you can use the other two around the house to store blankets or firewood. Elements by Erin Gates 3-piece basket set, $64 at


Plunger. Also within sight

We know you know why. Good Grips Toilet Plunger by Oxo, $40 at

Mirror guests can get up close and personal with

You probably already have a mirror behind the sink, but if guests can’t get right up next to it to properly examine their teeth, invest in a second one with nothing to block it. Metal & Leather Mirror by Threshold, $50 at

Use-and-toss towels

Not the greenest move, but an excellent alternative for guests icked out by too-communal terry towels. Splatterware Gold Paper Guest Towels by Caspari, $7 for 15 at

The right candle

Skip the spray, the plug-in or anything else that screams, “I’m here to cover bathroom odors.” A minimalist candle —  both in sight and scent —  goes a long way. Montecito Candle by Hudson Grace, $65 at


Covered wastebasket

The “covered” part is key. Save the open ones for your desk. Oval Step Trash Can, $24 at

Piece of art

It says, “Hey, we made an effort in here.” By no means should it be a family photograph. Above the Sea framed art print by Molly Goodman, $44 at

An appropriate bath rug

Not the curly, fuzzy damp one you may have in this room regularly that’s sure to make guests feel like they’re intruding (also, do you really want everyone’s shoes all over your bath mat?) Swap in something more elegant, like the Mendocino by Quiet Town Home, $62 at

Rescue box

It should be pretty, small, lidded and filled with a sampling of anything a guest would rather not ask you for audibly. Bandages, safety pins, floss and eye drops, as well as individually packaged aspirin, Tums and breath mints. Large Black and White Striped Box, $29 at


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