‘Tis the season to celebrate – with all that entails, including the annual influx of out-of-town guests and holiday visitors.
Whether you’re hosting family, friends or colleagues, the key to a successful holiday gathering lies in the thoughtful preparation of your home with your visitors’ comfort in mind. The goal is always to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere that puts your guests at ease and keeps everybody happy (including you).
Where do you even start? Let’s break it all down:
1. Clean and Declutter: Make Room for Your Guests
A clean, organized home is automatically more inviting than one that’s cluttered and chaotic, so go on a “de-cluttering mission.” Rid the common areas and guest spaces of unnecessary items and the usual collection of mail, papers, bags, stray books and other things that tend to gather near the doors or on flat surfaces. Vacuum the carpets, sweep the floors and make sure that everything is dusted. (If you don’t have time to do it yourself, call a cleaning service.)
2. Create a Welcoming Entryway: Setting the Tone from the Start
The entryway serves as the initial impression your guests have of your home, so make it a good one! Put away stray scarves and spare coats and make sure the area has room for your guests to drop their boots and shoes. This is another spot you may want to adorn with a small tree decorated with lights or a nutcracker or two, just to make the holiday magic clearer.
3. Use Ambient Lighting: Set the Perfect Atmosphere
Never underestimate the role of your lighting when it comes to creating a festive and friendly atmosphere. Opt for soft, warm-toned lighting in common areas, and consider the addition of candles or fairy lights for a seasonal touch. You may want to add a few small automatic LED plug-in lights in your hallways so that your guests won’t struggle to navigate unfamiliar areas on their way to a bedroom or bath.
4. Add Decorations: Infuse Your Home With Some Holiday Spirit
Nothing says “welcome” quite like festive holiday decor. Embellish your home with holiday-themed decorations to infuse the space with the spirit of the season. Adorn the front door with a wreath or pine bows, hang twinkling lights around the windows and place other seasonal decorations throughout the house. If you have winter throw pillows and cozy blankets, pull them out and use them to add warmth to the living room.
5. Tackle the Guest Room: Ensure the Comfort of Your Overnight Guests
For those hosting overnight guests, pay special attention to the guest bedroom. Create a retreat by ensuring bedding is fresh, clean, and inviting. Add extra pillows and blankets to the bed, transforming it into a cozy sanctuary. Consider placing a small tray on the bedside table stocked with water, glasses, and perhaps a few snacks, offering a touch of hospitality that goes a long way in making your guests feel pampered and valued.
6. Stock Up on Essentials: Anticipate Your Guests’ Minimum Needs
Anticipate your guests’ needs by providing essential amenities. Stock up on mini toiletries and add extra towels to the bathrooms so that your guests have everything they need to clean up. Make it easy for them to find items like tissues, hand sanitizer and extra blankets. By eliminating any need for your guests to search for necessities, you can create a home-away-from-home atmosphere.
7. Plan Easy-to-Serve Meals: Make It Easy on Yourself
Food is usually the centerpiece of most holiday gatherings, so plan your menu in advance. Ask your guests about their dietary restrictions or food allergies before they come, so that you can accommodate any special needs. Then, opt for dishes that can be prepared ahead of time or “one pot” meals – like casseroles, salads, roasts and stews. Make a self-serve station for coffee, tea and hot cocoa, as well as any alcoholic spirits you’re serving. That way, you can spend more time with your guests than you do in the kitchen.
8. Look at Your Seating: Foster Better Connections
Holiday gatherings are all about reconnecting with your family and friends and catching up on everything you’ve missed. Make sure that there’s plenty of seating and do your best to arrange things so that people can group together for conversations. If your space is limited, consider using throw pillows and blankets to create comfortable perches on the floor.
9. Add Entertainment: Look for More Holiday Cheer
There are plenty of holiday channels that you can use to stream Christmas music, so get that playlist going. There’s also nothing wrong with putting family-friendly movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Story” on the television in the game room or den for anybody who needs a break or the kids. Feel free to pull out your stack of board games and, if kids are coming, have a designated play area with crayons, coloring books and other age-appropriate toys.
10. Use Thoughtful Touches: Elevate the Whole Experience
Never underestimate the power of small, thoughtful touches when it comes to creating a great holiday mood. Consider leaving a personalized note for your guests expressing your joy over their visit. Small gestures, such as a basket of snacks in the guest room, small token gifts of candy or a hot cocoa station, can make your guests feel both welcomed and genuinely appreciated. Thoughtful touches elevate the guest experience, turning a stay in your home into a memorable and cherished part of their holiday season – and something to look back on with fondness.
Celebrating the holidays with your loved ones doesn’t have to be stressful or a chore. A little bit of pre-planning and some quick decorative touches can make your home a festive retreat for everybody who comes through your door. So, embrace the spirit of the season, share the joy of togetherness and revel in the magic of the holidays in comfort!