Everything You Need to Host Overnight Guests for the Holidays
A coffee maker, an air mattress, and other top products from CR's tests will make those in your 'pod' feel right at home
While the coronavirus pandemic may require that some holiday celebrations go virtual, some people may opt to shelter close family and friends for a quarantine-friendly extended stay.
You can help guests spending time away from their beds feel right at home under your roof.
No matter how long your guests are staying, listed below are some of the top-performing products from CR’s tests—including a reliable air mattress for a good night’s sleep and a great coffee maker for caffeinating a crowd—that are sure to keep them happy while you're all staying safe at home.
CR’s take: A great option for caffeinating a lot of people, the Cuisinart Coffee on Demand DCC-3000 is a self-serve coffee maker, meaning it forgoes a carafe and lets you fill a mug straight from its heated reservoir. Guests can brew a fresh cup on demand—and no one gets stuck with the dregs that have been sitting on the warmer all morning.
This model does well in our tests, and Cuisinart self-serve machines receive top marks for owner satisfaction. Features include a removable reservoir, a permanent filter, a water filter, a cleaning indicator, auto-shutoff, programming, and a small-batch setting.
For more options, read “Best Drip Coffee Makers From Consumer Reports’ Tests.”
CR’s take: The Oxo Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder is a fantastic grinder and one of the lower-priced models that does well in our tests. It receives strong scores in our grind performance tests, making it a good choice for any brew method you want to use. It also scores well for convenience, thanks to its clearly marked and easy-to-use controls. Our testers found it extremely easy to clean, too, because it has a removable hopper. It features 15 grind settings, a 12-ounce bean hopper (one of the largest), an auto-stop feature, and a timer.
For more options, read “Best and Worst Burr Coffee Grinders.”
CR’s take: The 7-cup Cuisinart PerfecTemp CPK-17 boils about as fast as most of the kettles we tested, but it’s pricey compared with the competition. That said, this stainless kettle has six preset temperature settings for making different types of teas or French-press coffee—whatever your guests like—and it boasts a three-year warranty. It performs well in our convenience tests; you’ll have no trouble reading the markings.
For more options, read “Best Electric Kettles From Consumer Reports’ Tests.”
CR’s take: The Hamilton Beach 6-slice 31411 did well in our reheating tests; food emerged evenly heated throughout. It's better at toasting a batch of toast than just one slice, however. It costs a fraction of most of the other toaster ovens in our tests. That’s why it’s pretty basic, with bake, broil, and warm functions, and three rack positions. This 1,440-watt toaster oven offers a temperature range of warm to 450° F.
For more options, read “Best Toaster Ovens From Consumer Reports’ Tests.”
CR’s take: This beast of a waffle maker weighs 15 pounds—double the weight of any other we tested—and takes up the most countertop real estate, too, measuring a foot wide and 16 inches deep. The Breville BWM640XL aced our tests, including top marks for even browning. Its large grid can fit twice the batter of a standard round iron, which means a full batch of piping hot waffles in half the time. It sounds an alert when waffles are done and is one of only two models we tested with a countdown timer. Another bonus: It comes with a batter cup, so you can pour the perfect amount of batter every time, without wasteful overflow.
For more options, read “Best Waffle Makers From Consumer Reports’ Tests.”
CR’s take: Keep your friends and family well-hydrated during their stay. This top-rated Brita pitcher does a good job of reducing flavor and odor. It filters as you pour, making its flow rate the quickest of the water filter pitchers we've tested.
For more options, check our water filter ratings and buying guide.
CR’s take: One of our highest-rated slow cookers, the 6-quart Crock-Pot Cook & Carry has a ceramic pot, a hinged lid that locks, and a handle on the lid, which makes it easier to carry. It performed superbly in our low-setting tests; it can serve up tender beef and veggies when it cooks low and long. It’s impressive on the high setting, too. You can program it for up to 20 hours, and once the cooking time ends, this cooker moves into keep-warm mode for up to 4 hours. Wrap the cord around the notches on the back of the cooker for neater storage.
For more options, read “Does Crock-Pot Still Make the Best Slow Cookers?”
CR’s take: A CR Best Buy for humidifying a small room (about 150 square feet), the Honeywell HUL520 earns top scores in almost all our tests, including those for output, convenience, noise, and efficiency. While it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, you can’t go wrong for the price.
For more options, read “Best Humidifiers of the Year.”
CR’s take: Keep your guests warm wherever they are in the house with this Vornado space heater, which has the best Overall Score of all the space heaters in our tests. It tops our spot-heating test, it’s one of the quieter models (if not the quietest), and it has smart safety features. It weighs 10 pounds and has a fan and remote control.
For more options, read “Best Space Heaters of 2019.”
CR’s take: You don’t have to pay triple digits for a great air mattress, and the 17-inch-high Hi-Loft from Simmons Beautyrest proves that. It’s a little more than half the cost of the most expensive air mattress in our ratings, and it performs better than pricier models in our recent tests. During the initial inflation in our convenience tests, we found that it took about 3 minutes to reach full firmness; it took 4 minutes to let all that air out. It snagged high scores in our deflection test, meaning this is an easier mattress to get up from once you’ve sat down. The Simmons comes with a storage bag, and it folds down to 6x12x17 inches, which is on the smaller end of those we tested.
For more options, read “Best and Worst Air Mattresses From Consumer Reports’ Tests.”
CR’s take: Sweet dreams are made of cozy sheets. This Brooklinen set will fit a 14-inch mattress or one that’s not as deep. These sheets don’t shrink as much as some other cotton sheets we've tested. The Brooklinen set scored well for fit and shrinkage, which means that even though they tend to get smaller during washes, they don’t change all that much over time. Luxe Core sheets are on the softer side based on our sensory test.
For more options, read “Best and Worst Sheets From Consumer Reports’ Tests.”
CR’s take: A good night’s sleep can go a long way when you’re spending a lot of time with family and friends. The foam Tuft & Needle Mattress earns high marks in our durability tests, which means it shows no signs of wear and tear after eight to 10 years of simulated use. It offers decent support for sleepers of all sizes, whether you prefer to sleep on your side or your back. In other words, it’s a crowd pleaser.
For more options, read “Best Mattresses for Guest Rooms.”