It is officially acceptable to be in holiday mode because the holidays are in full swing. For those planning on hosting a dinner or even more demanding, family, the time to plan is now. It isn’t enough to make Thanksgiving grocery lists and Christmas shopping lists to prepare for your guests’ arrival; you must make them feel comfortable as well.
Organizing expert Jill Pollack weighs in on how to get your home ready for house guests during the holiday season without losing your cool.
“Start thinking about your guests impending arrival about one month before they come because you never know what you’ll need,” said Pollack. “Figure out what you need in terms of extra purchases, and don’t wait until the last minute.”
The added factor of you still needing to live in your own home and carry out daily activities can be stressful, but Pollack said that thoughtful little gestures will go a long way in easing the process.
“Make space in your medicine cabinet and provide a cup for their toothbrush if your guests are staying for more than a few days. Find out if they have allergies and make sure all of the peanuts are gone,” said Pollack, adding that taking the time to do a good cleaning will make a world of difference. “Make it as comfortable as you can for them because it’s a hassle to have someone else in your space and you don’t want anyone feeling unwelcome.”
Mentally preparing is part of the preparation and according to Pollack, it involves stocking up on items, making lists and being flexible.
“They can have their own guest room and bathroom, if your house permits, but if not, give them their own space. It’s more than just blowing up the air mattress,” she said. “They don’t know where your stuff is so anticipate their needs as you do your own and it will be more enjoyable. Make sure your family is clear about what they need to do, so delegate responsibilities.”
As for sleeping arrangements, while forfeiting your bedroom is a generous offer, it’s still your house and you don’t want to be uncomfortable.
“Let kids sleep on the floor in sleeping bags or bunk up two or three to a bed. If grandpa can’t go up the stairs then he needs to sleep on a main level,” said Pollack. “You have to get creative with your space and make your guests feel at home so borrow folding chairs from the neighbors, invest in a rolling drawer, storage bins or hanging shelves for extra storage because some people don’t want to live out of a suitcase if they’re staying a while.”
Buying paper towels, toilet paper and water bottles in bulk is a smart idea as is putting empty garbage bags at the bottom of the pail and putting out hotel toiletries so guests can use them. When it comes to food, a good cleanout out of the hall closet, pantry and refrigerators is a great idea.
“These are high traffic areas that you need room for. If you’re lucky to have an extra fridge, great. If not, you’ll have to make trips to the market,” said Pollack, adding that this is the perfect time to ask your guests for some help. “Most people want to be a good guest so they will help. Make a list of things that need to be done and don’t be afraid to assign a dish or chore for them to do.”
Have a full refrigerator ready for guests, but factor in added expenses into your budget, including extra food, spending money on having your house cleaned and build in higher costs for heating, electric and water bills.
“There are some hosts who feel like they have to take everything on, so be more organized and plan an itinerary allowing yourself time to relax,” said Pollack. “Ask in advance what movies they like or plan an activity.”
But what about the host? Pollack suggests limiting the major work ahead of time and destress by hiring a cleaner before and after, as well as splurging on a much needed massage.
“Create space for your guests literally and emotionally. They really will appreciate it, but at the same time, don’t try to do everything,” she said. “Enjoy the meal and wine and company and the more you do in advance the more you’ll enjoy yourself, your guests and the time they are there.”