I’m lucky and have a guest suite always ready for holiday guests. But even with a dedicated space, preparing my home for the annual onslaught of friends and family takes time and forethought.
Some preparations for holiday guests take only a few minutes; some take a lot longer. My advice: Start preparing your home for the holidays now.
The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now.
If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart.
Light the way: Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests can’t. Make sure outside lights are working so they don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets.
Child proofing: Ask parents to bring hardware that keeps their small ones safe, such as baby gates and cabinet locks. Transfer toxic cleaners and medicines from base to wall cabinets. Hide matches and lighters.
Fire prevention: If you didn’t freshen smoke detector batteries when you switched the clocks to Daylight Savings Time, change them now. After your guests arrive, run a quick fire drill: Make sure they can locate exits and fire extinguishers, and that they know how to open windows and doors.
Your home’s foyer is the first place guests see, so make a good first impression.
Upgrade exterior entry doors or give old doors a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks.
Remove scratches from hardwood floors, stairs, and wood railings. Place a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors from mud and snow.
Clear out shoes, umbrellas, and other clutter.
Add extra hooks to walls so guests can hang coats and hats.
Add a storage bench where guests can remove boots and shoes.
Your kitchen is command central during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready for guests and extra helpers.
To increase storage, install a pot rack to clear cooking items off countertops and ranges.
Move your coffee station into a family room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals.
If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can set a spell.
If you’ve got a guest room, replace the ceiling fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo, which helps guests customize their room temperature without fiddling with the thermostat for the entire house.
To carve sleeping space out of public areas, buy a folding screen or rolling bookcase, which will provide privacy for sleepers. Fold or roll it away in the morning.
Bring toilet paper, towels, and toiletries out of hiding, and place them on open shelves so guests can find them easily.
If you don’t have enough wall space for shelves, place these items in open baskets around the bathroom.
Also, outfit each tub with a bath mat (to avoid falls) and each toilet with a plunger (to avoid embarrassment).
Source: Lisa Kaplan Gordon, HouseLogic.com