Preparing Your House for Holiday Guests

Schools are going on break, some offices are closing down for the holidays, and you have family coming to visit. If you are one of the lucky ones, you don’t have to brave the planes, trains, and automobiles, because your family or friends are traveling to you. All you have to do is make sure your house is guest-ready.

Note: you don’t have to turn your home into a hotel or showpiece. With just a few steps you can make your home inviting and comfortable so that you — and your guests — have a happy holiday visit

Clear the Way

You can start by systemically clearing out any clutter and making room for your guests. This may be as simple as emptying a closet and dresser and removing excess items from the bathroom counter to make room for their stuff. It may mean cleaning out a guest room that looks more like a storage unit or re-arranging the furniture in the living room to make the sleeper couch more accessible.

The trick to not getting overwhelmed with this task is to focus only on clearing. Don’t try to sort things or worry about whether to throw them out or get something fixed. Put items into boxes or even garbage bags that can be stowed away in the basement, garage, or other appropriate space. You can deal with permanent clutter solutions once your guests have returned to their homes. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for.

Clean and Comfortable

You will want to do as thorough a cleaning as you can for any areas your guests will be using regularly. Put fresh linens on the bed. Clean or vacuum the guest room floors. Scrub the bathroom and kitchen. If your family members or friends have allergies, be even more careful about the level of cleaning you do.

If you have the means, consider providing independent temperature controls, such as providing a space heater or ceiling fan in the guest room. Do your guests have hobbies that you share? Leave books or magazines on those topics on their bedside table. Be sure that extra toiletries and linens are easy to find and consider making a coffee or beverage station in your kitchen that will be easy for your guests to access without requiring your help.

Make it Safe

Your family knows your home inside and out, guests will not. Make sure that hallways, stairs, and dark corners have adequate lighting and that slippery floors have rugs or runners to prevent slipping. If your guests have toddlers and you do not, make sure to arrange for them to bring the necessary equipment to child-proof the house.

Other safety issues to address before your guests arrive include replacing the batteries in the smoke alarm, clearing the yard and driveway of possible hazards, and doing a quick safety check of any toys or play equipment that your kids will be sharing with other children.

Share Your Schedule

If you are like most people, you will not be able to devote 100% of your time to your visitors. You may have to work, take your kids to school events or simply have appointments and errands on your own. Before your guests arrive, make sure there is an up-to-date calendar of all these comings and goings in a common area. That may mean a family calendar posted on the fridge or an online calendar that you share with them — and that they can update too. Be sure to include large blocks of time that are devoted to specific activities together or just “hang out” time. Remember, they are coming all this way to spend time with you. Make sure they know they are your priority as well.

The key to a successful holiday visit is putting your guests first, whether that’s providing for the comfort and safety or simply giving them as much of your time as you can. Do that successfully and you’ll have lots of happy holiday memories.

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