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Airbnb owners roll out red carpet to make guests feel at home over Christmas

Jay Nelson stands Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, behind the breakfast bar in the kitchenette of his Air B&B. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service1 / 4
Jay and Kristi Nelson stock the fridge with a variety of beverages for guests of their Air B&B. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service2 / 4
Jay and Kristi Nelson have several items to introduce guests of their Air B&B to Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service3 / 4
Jay and Kristi Nelson’s Air B&B has several unique touches such as these Christmas village decorations. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service4 / 4

FARGO—"Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go."

Over the next month, people will be hitting the road to spend the holidays with family and friends. As there's not always room at the inn, or Grandma's new condo, more and more people are looking to alternative short-term housing options like Airbnb.

While rental owners try to make their guests feel at home, some also try to strike a balance when it comes to holiday decor.

"I try to be sensitive to their customs. Just because I celebrate Christmas doesn't mean they do," says Pam Matchie-Thiede, who offers up a house in north Fargo. "I pretty much customize the experience for my people. So I know a little bit about why they're coming."

Last year a guest said she wanted to make cookies with her grandson and asked if Matchie-Thiede had the necessary baking gear. For the most part, she did, but she went out and bought new baking sheets for the guest to use.

"It's nice because then they come back. It becomes, 'This is the place Grandma stays when she comes to visit,'" she says.

When she asked the visiting grandmother if she'd like a Christmas tree put up, the guest declined.

"It's good to not assume," Matchie-Thiede says.

"Folks have the option of staying in hotels, but I think they're looking for something more personal or cozy when they opt for an Airbnb," says Rachael Steenholdt, who operates two north Fargo spots. "Growing up, my home was always seasonally decorated and it had an extra cozy feel when it was. I think — and hope — that is something that resonates with the guests as well."

She lays out flannel sheets and grandmother-made quilts, holiday throw pillows and seasonal wall art. The bigger space does feature a Christmas tree and lights twinkle outside.

This is the first year Jay and Kristi Nelson have opened up the second floor apartment of their south Fargo home to Airbnb, so they approached seasonal designing cautiously.

"We like to get in the holiday spirit without being overly Christmas," Jay says in the one bedroom, one bathroom flat.

He's standing next to a bookcase decorated with some of Kristi's collection of Department 56 wintry village scene.

Next to the bookcase is a decorative 3-foot-tall red Christmas tree. Across the room, behind the kitchen counter is a red-and-white floral arrangement.

The Nelsons add some regional touches, like leaving a package of lefse for guests.

"It's 50/50 on who will eat it," Jay says.

They stock the fridge with beverages, including cans from Fargo Brewing Company and Drekker Brewing Company so visitors can unwind.

"There's a nice, cold, Fargo beer in the fridge. They can dust off and relax Fargo-style," Jay says. "We want people to have a good Fargo experience. We want to know we made a difference in someone's life that day."