The Holiday Season is upon us and for many that can mean opening up your home and hosting gatherings with family or friends. Whether you are hosting a simple family dinner or multiple parties, getting your home in shape early can help you truly enjoy the event and spend time with loved ones. Get your home hosting ready for the holiday season with these tips and ideas:
Declutter and forget the dust
You will likely need as much surface space for food preparation, dinning, games and decorations over the holidays so take care of the stacks and piles of stuff that have been building up in your home. Don’t worry too much about dust or doing a deep clean every time someone comes over, rather keep things in continuous decent condition. This will prevent stress and free up time for food preparation or to enjoy company.
Take care of what you’ve been putting off – as far in advance as possible, change the burnt out bulbs, fix the broken table leg and figure out or replace the appliance that isn’t working. Fill gaping wall holes if you please or finally get around to hanging up that painting that’s been sitting on the floor. Make sure you are proud of your home and that it’s a reflection of you but don’t start any major renovations or projects you can’t complete within sight of your gatherings.
Spare sleepers– if you are likely to have overnight guests during the season, get your spare bedroom in shape or borrow an air mattress if need be. Your guests should be gracious for whatever bedding you can spare them, but try to get them as comfortable as possible. Get kids to share a room if you can spare a separate room for longer-staying guest and always plan for unexpected sleepers after a party with great wine. Wash extra bedding or purchase new sheets and pillows ahead for the ultimate comfort. Always have extra pillows and blankets available for guests who like to cozy up during the night. If you truly want guests to feel cared for, offer up your master suite and spend a night bunking with the kids.
Bathroom essentials – make sure your bathroom is stocked for day or overnight guests with everything you can image them needing. Freshly laundered bath and hand towels, beautiful smelling soaps and mini toilet trees are all must-haves. Keep feminine products hidden but available for those that need. Ensure you have a lined garbage can for any bathroom waste. To make guests feel pampered include individual lotions, soaps, cloths and towels in baskets or glass jars. If you have only one bathroom or will be sharing, clear away as much of your family’s products as possible to allow guests room for their things.
Entryway – hosting means guests will be coming and going. Your entryway will get a lot of use during this season so ensure you have a functioning and beautiful greeting to your home. Space to hang coats and store guest shoes are a must. Decorate your entryway with holiday trimmings to ensure guests feel a festive welcome. Click here to read my Entryway Must Have post to ensure you have the best functioning space.
Seating – somewhere for each guest to sit when visiting is a must! Whether you are hosting a dinner party or large family event, ensure there is at least one seat per person. It is not essential for all seats to be in one room or at one table. For formal gatherings, you will likely want everyone to be able to sit at one table. Bring chairs from extra rooms and mix them with your formal chairs for an eclectic look. For potlucks or larger family gatherings, consider casual seats in family rooms, island stools or separate small kids tables. If a meal is complete and the party has moved to a more comfortable space, move extra dinning chairs to the living room so everyone has a seat.
Ambiance – the holidays are full of a joyous spirit and festive spark but you can definitely enhance this in your space by paying attention to a few things:
- SMELL – add some homey and festive smells in your house with lightly scented candles, diffuser, home cooking or baking. Don’t overpower a space by mixing scents in different rooms or going with a strong unfamiliar scent.
- LIGHTING – make sure you consider what your lighting needs are depending on the type of function and time of day. Intimate dinner parties demand candlelight whereas large family gatherings can benefit from multiple light sources. The right lighting can make a dinner party linger or totally break an intended ambiance.
- ATTITUDE – a host’s attitude determines the feel of the gathering. If you are prone to be overcome by stress easily, perhaps hosting a large gathering is not the best choice. Acknowledge what you are or aren’t comfortable with and outsource where necessary. A gracious host should be able to welcome guests while completing last-minute tasks with a calm attitude to set the party up in fine form.
- COMFORT– no one enjoys a rock-hard chair for a meal that carries on for a few hours. If your dinning chairs are hard, consider adding seat cushions for much-needed comfort. Ensure lounge spaces have cozy throws to warm up chilled guests and have large pillows lying around for kids to take a seat on the floor for large gatherings.
- SOUND– the ultimate kick-start for any gathering is picking the right soundtrack. If you have large gatherings and family members are musically talented, encourage some live caroling for the group. For lively affairs pick a soundtrack that has an appropriate tempo. For more intimate affairs, a classic jazz soundtrack played softly in the background often is a good choice.Stock the pantry – nothing is worse than having to drive out to the store last-minute to pick up a necessary ingredient for that dinner recipe. Stock up early and with more than you think you’ll need on not only baking and cooking staples, but snacks and drinks and household goods and staples too.
Prepare for the unexpected – you can probably plan to need an extra party gift (or 3) or have an unexpected guest pop by at some point over the holidays so prepare for it. Stock up some of your favourite bottles of wine with cute wrappings or bags. Prepare a few gift baskets for hosts or family members who dropped off your Christmas list. Fill your freezer with premade cookies and casseroles for extra lunches or snacks during the holiday season. Prepare whatever way you can imagine for meals that have yet to be planned and guests you have yet to invite.
Traditions – don’t forget to stay true to holiday traditions you love. If a tradition is stressful or way too costly, forgive yourself (or obliging family members) and let it go. If you have way too much going, try combining events by having a girlfriend gathering that doubles as a holiday cookie exchange or a family photo shoot while picking out or decorating your Christmas tree.
Get everyone involved – write out tasks ahead of time and get the whole family or some of your close friends to help you. Kids love decorating cookies and sisters are perfect to plan dinner menus with. Decorate your home with your mom or mutually help neighbours with your outdoor Christmas lights. These may even become new traditions.
The holidays can be a stressful time of year but they sure as heck don’t have to be. If you prepare your home and plan for events accordingly, you can be sure to love the events you work so hard to host and actually enjoy the time you spend with loved ones this season.