Holiday time is filled with joy and love and laughter. And hopefully good cheer and lots of presents. But if you're the one who hosts the festivities, it may also be filled with stress and pressure and endless trips to the market for things you forgot and a house-wide search for that one blanket that seems to have disappeared into the abyss. If you're looking for ways to be a great host without losing your mind, read on for a few tips.
Make them feel at home
"Take steps to make them feel welcome, always. Give them enough privacy, and never act like they're imposing (even if they are). Be happy when they're around, and even if something bothers you (like their belongings start taking over your living room), keep in mind that the visit will come to an end sooner than you realize," said PopSugar. "Especially with foreign guests, understand that their cultures and habits may be different than what you're used to, and that's totally OK."
Make the bed
Even if you have an older mattress, you can still set a nice bed with an inexpensive mattress pad or topper. Check out Huffington Post for a guide to the best choices. Now is also a great time to take advantage of deals on bedding at places like Tuesday Morning, Macy's, and T.J. Maxx.
Or, if your house is like ours over the holidays, with people sleeping in every nook and cranny, you can still make it inviting for them with soft sheets, warm blankets, and new pillows transforming couches into comfy sleeping zones. If you need to bring in extra sleeping surfaces, Best Air Mattress Guide is a good place to start.
Clear some space
If the closet in your guest room is crammed full of stuff, make sure you clear some space to make your guests feel welcome and allow them to unpack.
If guests are staying for more than a day, it's also a nice touch to clear out a drawer. Simply throw your stuff into a box and place in your closet for the time being so it can be easily returned when your house gets back to normal.
Leaving a goodie basket in the guest room is a nice touch that will make your guests feel at home. Pack up a gift bag with few treats, a favorite book, a sleep mask, and necessary items like Kleenex, lotion, and Chapstick. Want to really be a killer host? Give your guests an early Christmas present of a plush robe and slippers or flannel PJs the day they arrive. They'll feel as taken care of as if they were staying at a five-star hotel.
Set up a kid space
If you'll have pint-size guests in your house for the holidays, you'll want to make sure that they're entertained. Designating a room with interactive toys and games, an Xbox, a TV with Netflix and comfortable seating is a great way to make sure the kids are having as much fun as you are.
Entertaining the little ones won't be the only priority. "If your guests include babies or small children, be sure to store away any potentially harmful objects or decor in your home, and do any necessary childproofing of furniture," said Martha Stewart. "In the same way that parents will likely arrive prepared, visitors with pets will probably also pack everything they need. Still, a nice gesture would be to ask if they need any extra pet necessities or food."
Freshen up the bathroom
Take a good look at your guest bath and freshen it up before anyone arrives. Ditch near-empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner and soap slivers and put out new ones. Place a package of toothbrushes and a tube of toothpaste, along with mouthwash and dental floss, in the bathroom drawer. Lay out fresh towels and add a new air freshener (it's a good idea to add one to the powder bath guests might be using throughout their stay as well). Simple touches like this will make it easier to manage a house full of people.
Stock basic essentials
A guest who runs out of toilet paper in the middle of the night and doesn't know where to look for more may feel a tad awkward. Stuff your bathrooms cabinets full of TP, plus Q-tips, cotton balls, makeup remover and basic first aid supplies like Neosporin, Band-Aids, and pain reliever. A night light in the bath or hallway can help them navigate at night without disturbing anyone.
Do some basic upkeep
Making sure the house and the guest space is spic-n-span goes without saying. Paying attention to light bulbs that might need changing and remote control batteries that might be low is also helpful.
Make a Costco run
It's a great place to get that mega-pack of TP, plus paper towels, water, soda/juice, family-size meals and snacks, sandwich fixins' and alcohol. Having ample supplies and a fridge/pantry stocked with food will minimize the potential of having to run out in the middle of your gathering. Asking guests ahead of time about their favorite foods is a good tip so you can make sure you take care of picky eaters.
The Speckled Dog
Create an Information Station
Martha Stewart recommends creating an "information station" where any pertinent information like Wi-Fi passwords, home alarm codes, and any other essential household information can be found. It's also a good idea to have phone chargers available here for anyone who forgot one.
Get in the spirit of the season
Seasonal entertainment and crafts will bring everyone together and inspire new holiday traditions. If you don't already have Home Alone, Elf, and Christmas Vacation, it's time to get them. Even if they're only on in the background while the family is cooking and hanging out, it will impart some fun holiday.
Stay on a budget
"We all know it's easy to go overboard during the holiday," said US News. "But the last thing you want to do is overextend yourself and start the new year with credit card debt. To avoid overspending, always head to the store with a budget and a list of everything you need for the holiday -- and not just food. Make room in your budget for tableware, decor, wine, beer and even toiletries for your family members staying over. You can find most of the party tableware, décor and toiletries at your local dollar store. You can also buy in bulk at Costco or Sam's Club."