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December 19, 2017

Preparing for Holiday Houseguests

Here they come! It’s only a few days before the holidays, and you’re wondering now how you’re ever going to be ready in time. Inviting family and friends to visit back in October sounded like such a good idea…but now the stress is starting to get to you. Don’t worry – take a deep breath and follow our quick list for making sure you’ll be the host with the most or the hostess with the mostest!
  1. Free Up Some Room in Your Rooms
Since you’ll be pressed for space, make sure you declutter your common rooms by stashing furniture you won’t use in the garage or pushing it against the walls. Ditching coffee tables, end tables or decorative (delicate, white or uncomfortable pieces come to mind) furniture can stretch your space more than you’d think. You may want to set up airbeds or sleeping bags on the floors, so it’s best to be ready if the need arises.
  1. Recycle or Pitch Some Clutter
Recycle newspapers, catalogs and junk mail you’ve been stashing wherever…even if you’ve been meaning to get to it someday. Get some storage bins for items that you can’t bear to part with, but don’t have the time to sort through right now. Tuck the bins away, but make sure to highlight a date within the month of January on your calendar to pull them out and deal with them once and for all. If you tend to collect items at the base of your stairs to “go up with me next time”, now is the next time. Take them upstairs and put the items away.
  1. Become a Clean Machine
If you have a day or two of time to devote to off-season “spring cleaning” before the guests arrive, hop to it. If not, don’t be afraid to bring in the “Big Guns”…hire a cleaning service for the big jobs such as cleaning windows, bathrooms, kitchens and going over dusty spare bedrooms. If necessary, have your carpets cleaned professionally. Check local publications and the Internet for coupons – many carpet cleaners offer great deals to convince new customers to give them a try. Have older children pitch in when it comes to chores such as vacuuming, getting all the laundry done and tidying up their rooms. This is especially important if your guests have children that will be bunking in with your own.
  1. Take Care of Little Repairs
Squeaky doors, leaky faucets and toilets that run for what seems like hours can be annoying for guests. Task the handiest person in your family with handling these little frustrations prior to the visit. If time is at a premium, consider bringing someone in to take care of these issues.
  1. Roll Out the Welcome Wagon
A few nice touches can go a long way. Make sure a few drawers are emptied in guest rooms for visitor’s clothing and add some empty hangers to the rod in the closet. Make sure there’s a place for the guests to put their luggage, whether it’s a luggage rack or a clean area under the bed or in the closet. Be sure the guest towels and sheets are freshly laundered and of decent quality. While you don’t need to go overboard, soft, absorbent towels and sleek sheets can make a simple stay a mini vacation for your guests. Stock their bathroom with basic toiletries, in case they don’t check a bag at the airport or run out of something they need. Make sure there’s plenty of replacement TP, too!
  1. Childproof – Just in Case
If babies or young children will be staying in your home, be sure to secure cleaning supplies, medications, sharp tools and other hazards safely in cupboards, closets or drawers that little hands can’t open. Remove breakables from tables, shelves, bookcases or other flat surfaces. Put them away for a few days – better safe than sorry. Make sure all of your holiday decorations are safe for kids. Use outlet covers to prevent shocks and have a couple of baby gates available. If you have a pool, make sure the area surrounding it can be secured in some way to prevent children from falling in.
  1. Plan Your Menus
Lay in bulk supplies for quick, easy dinners such as spaghetti, chili, beef stew or a huge casserole. Keep lunches simple by having a variety of cold cuts, cheeses and breads available for sandwiches, along with a healthy supply of PB & J and some popular soups. Snacks such as jerky, nuts, cheese and crackers, fruit and Christmas cookies will keep peckish appetites satisfied between meals. Keep breakfasts easy with breakfast casseroles such as strata, or offer cereals, hard boiled eggs, yogurt and pastries, so that everyone can eat at whatever time they choose to get up. Avoid the stress of pancakes or individually prepared eggs. Make sure early risers know where the coffee supplies are and how to use the appliance of their choice. Ask your guests if anyone has a food allergy or sensitivity before finalizing your menus. When your guests arrive, give them a quick tour of the kitchen and pantry, so they know where things are and can help themselves to anything they need without having to ask.
  1. Play by the Rules
If you have certain guidelines you’d like your guests to follow, make sure you give them a heads-up before they arrive…in a light-hearted way. Let them know if smoking is forbidden in your home, what the shower schedules are, or if someone will be working odd hours and will need to catch up on their sleep while others will be active. If you would prefer that they remove their shoes while indoors, provide a variety of slipper socks in mixed sizes for cozy tiptoeing around your house…they’ll keep your guest’s feet toasty while your carpets stay clean. An added bonus…they’re another handy gift your guests can take home!
  1. Keep your Holiday Décor Simple
As part of your childproofing, you’ve removed fragile items or those that aren’t in secure areas. Stick with the theme by keeping your decorations minimal and safety-centric. Avoid items with small parts that can be choking hazards or décor with an open flame, such as candles or fireplaces without safety screens.
  1. Check Your Itineraries
Make sure you know exactly when your guests are to arrive, especially if you’ll be picking them up when they get into town.
  1. Keep Your Guests in the Loop
If you’ll be dressing up for New Year’s Eve or donning ugly Christmas sweaters one night for fun, make sure you tell your guests in advance so they can pack the right things. Likewise, if you’re planning activities that require being outside, make sure they bring appropriate outerwear and the proper shoes. Let your guests know in advance if their pets will be welcome, and if so, find out what accommodations will be required to keep them comfortable as well.
  1. Set the Parameters of the Visit
Make sure you have a start and end date for each guest’s stay. Not only will you need to make sure you have adequate accommodations for everyone, you’ll want to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the length of the visit. You’ll want to make sure you maintain the quality of your relationships by making sure no-one overstays their welcome! And last but not least…don’t try to be perfect! Do whatever you can and let the rest go. Enjoy having friends and family with you for the holidays – don’t sweat the small stuff. Your sister probably won’t care if the plates don’t match – she just wants to connect with you!
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