In a word: don’t.

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If you are a person with family, friends, or colleagues, it’s likely that at some point you have either been or hosted a houseguest. Whether you are the host or the guest, you’re bound to learn a lot about yourself in these situations. You discover just how firm you like a pillow, and that you don’t like someone else “borrowing” your shampoo. You find that you really don’t want to dry off with your significant other's friend’s used towel after a shower (yes, that happened to me) and that even the most polite of guests sometimes set 4 a.m. alarms. The one thing you’re very likely to run into when being or hosting a houseguest is breakfast. Whether you’re hosting your in-laws or your best friend, breakfast can set the stage for a lot of potential complications. After years of experiencing both sides of the houseguest conundrum, I have finally figured out how best to make breakfast in these situations: don’t.


If you’ve agreed to put someone up, providing breakfast might seem like part of the job. Miss Manners would likely agree, but I think it’s more complex than that. As a host, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed. Here are a couple things you can do:

Prepare coffee the night before. Set up the drip coffee maker or espresso machine before bed and make it known that whoever is the first up can press start. Ask your guests if they prefer tea, and show them where you keep the hot water heater. Have milk (and maybe a dairy-free option for the lactose-intolerant) in the fridge. Don’t feel like you’re responsible for making your guest their morning adaptogen-enhanced hand-whisked matcha, unless of course that’s what you’re planning to have.

Provide low-maintenance food options.Tell your guests they should feel comfortable helping themselves to anything in the kitchen, (maybe hide the $40 jam you brought back from France) but show them where to find cereal, granola, yogurt, bread, and fruit. If you’re not awake or have to run out before your guests wake up, they won’t feel weird eating your food without you.


As a guest, you’re probably feeling all sorts of things in the morning. You’ve spent the night in someone else’s space, so you’re likely both physically and emotionally uncomfortable. If you’re an early riser, you might feel as though you have to stay in bed for an extra 2 hours, stomach growling, until you hear the sound of others getting up. If you sleep late, you’re worrying about the Sleeping Beauty jokes you’re likely to be the butt of upon rising. Here are some things you can do:

Bring your own instant coffee or tea bags if you prefer something specific. For all you know, your host loves their vanilla-flavored coffee and only drinks decaf herbal tea. If you have a preference, bring your own. You can even present your host with a gift of your favorite coffee or tea when you arrive. That way, they don’t have to buy anything special, and you get to drink what you want. It’s a win-win. The BYO rule also applies to specific granola bars and your preferred type of nut butter.

Offer to take your host out for breakfast. If you know you’ll both be around in the morning, ask your host if you can buy them breakfast at a nearby restaurant as a thank you. You can also do a bit of research and see if a local bagel place delivers, and have a nice spread sent over.

Run out for something to go. If you’re one of those aforementioned early-risers, it’s completely OK for you to pop out to a nearby cafe for a latte and a moment to yourself before your host gets up. However, if you plan on returning, you should definitely bring back muffins for everyone to enjoy.