Preparing for Guests: 10 Ways to Get Your Home Holiday-Ready
Whether you’re hosting a cocktail party for friends or welcoming your family into your home for the holidays, it’s the season for guests. Getting your home ready for visitors can be a pleasure when you know where to start. Prepare for holiday house guests now, and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy their company when they arrive.
The first thing guests see when they arrive is your front door, so make it appealing with decorative lighting fixtures or a fresh coat of paint. Outdoor holiday decorations give a front porch a festive touch. If you live somewhere snowy, shovel the front walk before guests get there. Don’t forget a welcome mat that sets the mood.2. Make space in your coat closet. Whether they stay for an evening or a month, guests need somewhere to put their heavy outerwear while they visit. For smaller gatherings, you might go with a coat rack, but for large groups, plan on making more room.
3. Add touches of holiday cheer everywhere.
Think of all the parts of your home a guest is likely to see and focus your decorating attention there. A few holiday candles or scented soaps make a bath a welcoming place for guests. A blooming poinsettia or a strand of Christmas garland gracing a window treatment can transform a plain guest room into a holiday retreat.
4. Prepare for unexpected numbers of guests.
A friend who brings a date to the Christmas party or a cousin who couldn’t find a babysitter could mean you need extra hors d’oeuvres at a moment’s notice. Making more than you think your guests will eat at your dinner party or holiday get-together ensures that no one goes home hungry. If you wind up with fewer guests than you planned to host, send extra food home in containers; your guests will think fondly of you when they enjoy their midnight snacks.
5. Make a child-proofing sweep of your home.
Even if you aren’t expecting kids at your party, guests sometimes surprise you by bringing the whole family in tow. Placing fragile items out of harm’s way and spraying furniture with a protective coating will also keep adult mishaps from occurring. Grown-ups spill drinks or bump into delicate items too, so child-proofing also helps you guest-proof.
6. Rearrange your furniture to encourage conversation.
If your current furniture arrangement keeps to the walls, you leave the center of the room bare. Instead, bring everyone together with groupings that make it easy to chat. Face a loveseat or pair of chairs toward a sofa, and you create a conversation center for half a dozen people.
7. Consider buffet-style or family-style service for Thanksgiving dinner.
Plating each guest’s meal is a more formal way to serve, but it’s a tremendous amount of work for you. Instead, enjoy your guests and let them fill their own plates. When planning additional space on sideboards and tables for buffet-style service, go through the motions you would expect guests to follow to ensure the service flows well.
8. Get a serving cart.
Once a staple of every fashionable cocktail party, the hostess cart fell out of fashion for a time, but it’s back – and with good reason. A wheeled cart provides extra serving and storage space while letting you mingle with your guests. Use it to serve wine, spirits or coffee or as a dessert station for your buffet. When the party’s over, the cart becomes the perfect place to store seasonal items.
9. Create ambiance in guest bedrooms to make visitors feel welcome.
Any hotel can provide a bed, but your home appeals to all the senses. Cover beds with cozy throws, leave a few books on the nightstand and cover bare floors with plush area rugs to make a guest room feel like home. A night light is a thoughtful touch, especially when it’s also a wax warmer that fills the room with fragrance.
10. If you don’t have time to clean the whole house, do the finishing touches first.
When you clean, you probably save making the beds or arranging the guest towels for your final pass. Those are the things guests notice first, so if you haven’t had time to take a toothbrush to the grout, just close the shower curtain, wipe the sink and lay out fresh guest towels. No one will peek at the parts you haven’t yet had a chance to polish when everything guests need is already at hand.
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