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As the holidays approach, most people are making plans to spend extra time with friends and family. While it’s a wonderful time to make memories and enjoy each other’s company, it can also be stressful for the hosts. You’ve decorated and cleaned; now what? Here are some tips to help you get your house ready for the winter and all the guests it brings:
A warm welcome
First impressions matter, so pay extra attention to your entryway. Use a welcome mat or rug to keep guests from tracking in snow or mud, and clear out unneeded shoes or coats so your visitors have a designated spot for their own items while they stay with you. (If you don’t have a designated dropping point for shoes and coats, now is a good time to set one up.) And don’t be afraid to dress up the space a little. If you have room for a small table or shelf, decorate it with a small Christmas tree or holiday plant. If there’s only wall space, add a fragrant wreath or string of lights so the first thing people see is welcoming and festive.
Clean and declutter
Once you’ve cleared out the entryway, take a look at what you can remove from other rooms. Go room by room to keep from getting overwhelmed. In the living room, clear surfaces of anything extraneous. To keep things cozy, have extra blankets in a cute basket or arrangement so they’re easy for guests to grab. If you have a guest room, make sure there is space in the closet for clothes and shoes, and clear a spot for folks to put their luggage. In the kitchen and bathroom, same concept: clear out anything you don’t need on a daily basis to make space for your guests and their things.
Set the mood
A classic trick to make your home smell nice is by baking a treat, like an apple pie. If you don’t have time for that, buy a couple of seasonal candles and use them to freshen up a room. Music can be a great mood setter, too. For those who are a little more old-school, dig out your Christmas CDs (or records, for the truly retro) and keep them easily accessible so you can rotate through your favorites. For the more modern, make a playlist and stream Christmas classics to your heart’s content. And if you have a fireplace, stock up on firewood and kindling so you can enjoy some cozy family time around the fire.
In the kitchen
Meals tend to be a big part of holiday gatherings, so don’t forget to do some kitchen prep before everyone arrives. Clean off surfaces and make some extra cupboard space in case guests bring their own food. Stock up on drinks and snacks you know your guests might like — hot chocolate, coffee, tea, etc. If there will be children, grab some marshmallows or candy canes to make their hot chocolate extra festive. And for coffee drinkers, even if you prefer yours black, make sure you have sugar and cream on hand for people who like their java a little sweeter.
If you have the space, set up extra chairs to make it easy for people to sit and visit during meal prep. If space is limited, consider having a designated spot in the next room where people can congregate that won’t clog up the main kitchen area.
If you have a designated guest room, declutter as mentioned and clear surfaces to make space for their items. Make sure guests have room for clothes, shoes and other personal items. Nightstands are a nice touch, complete with a lamp and alarm clock. You can also provide reading material, like magazines or some specially selected books. For an extra personal touch, a gift can really make your guest feel at home. It doesn’t have to be extravagant — even just a pretty card with a piece of holiday candy telling them how happy you to see them can leave a lasting impression. Or put together a small basket with some snack foods, like a bag of pretzels or peanuts, with a couple bottles of water.
Keep different temperature preferences in mind, too. If there’s no ceiling fan, keep a small plug-in fan in the room and make sure the guests know it’s there. Also keep extra blankets somewhere easily accessible, whether on a spare chair or in an easy-to-reach corner of their closet. If guests will have to travel to get to the bathroom, install a nightlight so they can easily navigate their way without stubbing toes or turning on lights and disturbing others.
If your guests won’t have a room all to themselves, consider getting a folding screen or roll-away shelf that can give them added privacy during the night. And still clear a space so they have a designated spot to put their clothes and personal items, and give them somewhere specific to change clothes so they’re not awkwardly wandering around waiting for a room to open up.
The bathroom is one of the most high-traffic areas when you’re housing extra guests, so make sure it’s fully stocked. Keep toilet paper, towels and washcloths visible and easy to reach so your guests don’t have to rummage around or ask where they can find more. Also stock up on extras so you can accommodate your guests if they forget something or run out. Toothbrushes, lotion, shampoo, conditioner — arrange them in a cute basket or container for your guests so they feel pampered.
Make them feel at home in Annapolis, Maryland
More than the decorations, food and accommodations, the most important part of making guests feel at home is to fully welcome them into your routines. Jot down your wifi password and security codes and keep them somewhere easily spotted by your guests. If they’ll be staying for a while, consider giving them a spare key (strung on a festive holiday ribbon) so they can come and go as they like. If your entertainment system takes three remotes and an engineering degree to operate, jot down some instructions and keep them on the coffee table where everyone can grab them. And make sure to tell them the best winter activities in Anne Arundel, Maryland.
If you don't feel you have enough room for guests in your home, or that the space is not open and inviting enough, consider a design build remodel for your Annapolis home.