Christmas and New Year are the busiest times for socialising and whether you like it or not, you’ll probably be accommodating family and friends at some stage during the festivities.
Take the stress out of being the hostess by making your home guest-ready well in advance, leaving you to enjoy the holiday.
Pre-Christmas and the run-up to winter is the perfect time for decluttering. With the changing seasons and colder weather on the horizon, you’ll be thinking about taking out the winter woollies along with the Christmas decorations.
With this in mind, spend a weekend having a good clear out and store away those summer clothes that are taking up valuable space in the wardrobe. This is also a good time for getting rid of any unused or broken toys in readiness for the new influx of Christmas gifts.
Get any major cleaning or fixing done now. You probably won’t have time once December is underway and are busy doing the Christmas shopping and ferrying children to and from festive parties.
Being practical is the way forward
Getting organised with practicalities may not be exciting but doing this now will free up your time later on and reduce stress levels. Stock up on batteries for toys and cameras, extra light bulbs and additional plasters or paracetamol for the first aid box.
There will always be a shop open somewhere over Christmas but it’s no fun having to leave your guests to venture out into the cold for a box of ibuprofen on Boxing Day.
Extra people usually means more seating and tableware are needed. Make sure you have enough mugs, cups or glasses – borrow if you have to or think of alternatives – perhaps a buffet dinner that doesn’t require additional cutlery?
Dig out and dust down the fold-up chairs stored in the garage; if you don’t have any perhaps re-purpose an ottoman and use as a bench at the dining table. Buy a stash of paper napkins or double up on the kitchen roll in your next shop, also add extra soap and make sure you have a stack of clean, fluffy hand towels for the bathroom.
What will your guests need to make them feel comfortable?
You won’t be able to think of everything but providing at least the basics will be a good start.
If you’re planning on hosting overnight guests have some spare toothbrushes or travel sized toiletries to hand, your guests will be grateful should they forget something!
If serving food, check any dietary requirements in advance, that way you won’t be stumped should someone announce they have a wheat intolerance or have become vegan.
Guests with children will probably bring toys to keep the little ones amused, but why not be extra thoughtful and set up a separate play area? Having a few more toys, family DVDs or activity packs ready will be welcomed and should leave you free to catch up with their parents uninterrupted.
Deck the halls
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the décor so add plenty of seasonal sparkle. But don’t forget the cosy touches too that will help your guests to relax as soon as they arrive.
Add a pretty wreath to the front door and perhaps some outdoor lights to greet guests.
Inside, use layered lighting such as lamps to set the mood in living areas, and put out scented candles or diffusers, there are plenty available with seasonal scents to add to the overall atmosphere.
Put extra throws and cushions out in the living room to match your décor and dress up footstools and ottomans as extra seating in a corner. Add some magazines, books or even an iPad to keep people entertained.
Make your guests feel at home by popping nibbles and drinks out on a kitchen counter for them to help themselves without feeling they have to bother you.
Being organised now will save you tons of time and stress alongside making you look like a thoughtful hostess with a knack for making guests feel truly welcome. Those little touches will be remembered and you never know, next year you might get an invite to stay elsewhere and not have to worry about organising Christmas at all!